Three farms that are partnering with Equity Trust’s Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program were among 28 farms awarded grants under New York State’s first-ever regionally targeted grant program for farmland protection. The $20 million in awards announced May 3, 2016 provides funding for preservation of agricultural lands, protecting more than 5,600 acres of active farmland in seven counties through permanent conservation easements.
- Artemis Farm: Equity Trust played a significant role in this project, acquiring a portion of the property through the Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Fund to facilitate the protection of the land for agricultural purposes. Now that Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) has been awarded $78,250 to permanently protect the property, Equity Trust will transfer the protected farm to farmer ownership. Equity Trust has committed to cover the additional cost to acquire a Preemptive Purchase Right on the farm to ensure it will be sold in the future to a farmer at agricultural value. Operated as Artemis Farm, this 120-acre enterprise breeds and sells Randall Cattle, a rare but hardy breed of indigenous cattle. The farm also lies within a priority area designated for protection by Scenic Hudson within the Hudson Valley / New York City “foodshed.” Scenic Hudson will contribute $120,500 towards this project and it has also already received an award from the Federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to cover 50% of the purchase price of this conservation easement.
- Featherbed Farm: Saratoga PLAN was awarded $185,936 to permanently protect the 59-acre property currently owned by Local Farms Fund and leased to the farmer with the intention to transfer the protected farm to farmer ownership. This property will support a unique operation with a horse-powered year-round Community Supported Agriculture enterprise. Saratoga County will contribute $35,900 and the RSF Local Initiatives Fund will contribute $15,000 toward this project. Additionally, Equity Trust has committed to covering the additional cost to acquire a Preemptive Purchase Right on the farm to ensure it will be sold in the future to a farmer at agricultural value.
- The Farm at Miller’s Crossing: Equity Trust has committed to cover the additional cost to acquire a Preemptive Purchase Right on the farm to ensure it will be sold in the future to a farmer at agricultural value. This will enhance the $1,108,175 award CLC received to permanently protect The Farm at Miller’s Crossing, owned by Breathe Deep Farm LLP. This 397-acre property is used to (1) grow certified organic vegetables as well as bedding plants, small grains, hay and straw; (2) raise grass-fed beef; and (3) produce maple syrup. The farm also lies within a highest priority area designated for protection by Scenic Hudson within the Hudson Valley / New York City “foodshed.” Scenic Hudson will contribute $320,200 toward this project.
Equity Trust’s Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program complements the public funding through the Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program which provides funding to local partners, such as municipalities, counties, soil and water conservation districts, and land trusts, to help landowners in the region protect viable farmland from being used for purposes other than farming. The Governor’s press release made note of the financial resources being brought to these projects and emphasized the importance of preserving affordability: this grant program “has been widely supported by a diverse group of financing partners whose involvement will enable some beginning farmers to buy portions of this protected farmland at an affordable price.”
Peter Paden, Executive Director of the CLC, said: “We are pleased and honored that so many wonderful farm projects have been awarded funding through the Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program in our County. We are grateful to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and to our farmland protection project partner Scenic Hudson Land Trust. We are also especially glad to have been able to partner with Equity Trust on two of the awarded projects, and credit all of the farmers who have been awarded funding through this program for their vision and commitment to protecting our region’s agricultural future.”