Lewis Waite Farm produces grass-fed beef and pork and runs a “CSA Extras Program,” aggregating and distributing local farm products. Owners Nancy and Alan Brown felt strongly that they wanted to conserve their 450 acres of farmland for active agricultural production and ensure that it remain affordable to future farmers. They worked with the Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA) and Equity Trust to make this happen: Our Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program provided essential funding that made an agricultural conservation easement possible, and helped to create resale restrictions that ensure that future sales of the land will be to farmers at an affordable price.
The farm is located in the Towns of Jackson and Cambridge in Washington County, New York, where Alan has farmed since 1968 and Nancy since 1999. The large, hilly property has 38 Certified Organic pastures in which to rotate the herd of beef cattle, encouraging the growth of native forage and healthy soils. The Browns, with their son Colin, also raise pigs, producing pork that is all natural and GMO-free. Their animals are processed at a local, family-run USDA-inspected facility.
The Lewis Waite Farm serves customers at weekly farmers’ markets and through stores in the region. The CSA Extras program has grown with cooperative spirit, selling the farm’s own beef and pork as well as products from other local farms. It plays an important role in connecting those small farms with a sizeable community, by distributing to over 40 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and buying clubs in the NYC metro area, the Capital District, and the Hudson Valley.
For years, the Browns had hoped to protect the farm from being divided and developed for its views. Equity Trust’s involvement and funding was crucial to making the project happen after ASA secured partial easement funding from the USDA’s Grasslands Reserve Program. With an additional contribution from local fundraising, and a donation of value by the owners, in January 2020, the property was protected from future development and established as a permanently affordable farm. Having successfully led the protection effort, ASA now holds the easement and will steward the farm in perpetuity.
Together with two adjacent properties, conserved previously by ASA, the Lewis Waite Farm is now part of a 734-acre corridor of contiguous working farm and forest land. The terms of the conservation easement protect the farm and its future agricultural viability, and also ensure the permanent affordability of the two residences on the property. This is the third working farm, after Laughing Earth Farm in Rensselaer County and Hepatica Farm in Washington County, that Equity Trust and ASA have joined together to protect in this way.