Equity Trust is pleased to report that two Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program projects recently closed, helping to protect the farmers’ continued access to their land as well as the affordability of the land through future transfers. Both projects involved partnership with Scenic Hudson and Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC).
In June 2015, we supported the acquisition of an innovative conservation easement on the Zapp family’s 83-acre Delapenta Farm in Taghkanic, NY, a third-generation dairy farm. The easement ensures the land’s permanent availability for agricultural use and includes terms that will keep the land affordable for future farmers. This inclusion of resale restrictions is a first for an easement held by CLC and one of the first in New York State. One of the goals of Equity Trust’s Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program is to make such restrictions more common in New York, as they have become in Massachusetts and Vermont.
By protecting their land in this way, the Zapps not only ensured that their land would be farmed forever, but also provided long-term stability for their business. Funds from the conservation easement and additional restrictions helped the family retire debt and will support the farm’s transition to certified organic production and marketing through Organic Valley (CROPP Coop), making it more sustainable, both economically and environmentally.
In a second project, we are assisting heritage cattle breeder Cynthia Creech in the purchase of land she’d been renting in New Lebanon, NY, which together with land she already owns will eventually be protected forever as a working farm affordable to farmers.
Artemis Farm is home to Cynthia’s Randall cattle, a rare breed she helped restore to a stable level through careful breeding and genetic monitoring. Cynthia has operated Artemis Farm on 120 acres since 2011, but she had only been able to purchase 62 of those acres. In May 2015, Equity Trust’s Farm Affordability Fund bought the neighboring 57-acre parcel she’d been renting to secure the land and is leasing it to Cynthia pending the sale of an easement, which will make the farm affordable for her to purchase.
Later, when conservation funding is secured by Scenic Hudson and CLC, Cynthia will purchase the property and simultaneously sell an easement. At the same time, the Farm Affordability Program will make a grant to pay for additional restrictions that will ensure future sales of the property will be to farmers at a price they can pay out of farm earnings.