David Rowley working in greenhouse
We believe Columbia County is singularly well positioned to take advantage of the surge of interest in healthy and locally grown food, and that a resurgent and viable farm economy would, among other things, be an excellent conservation achievement. Scenic Hudson has been an invaluable partner in furthering this vision.
CLC Executive Director Peter Paden
Scenic Hudson and the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) have partnered to purchase development rights on an 82-acre farm in the Town of Stuyvesant, guaranteeing that it will continue contributing to the community’s agriculture-based economy and rural charm. By protecting the farm, which contains 57 acres of USDA Prime Soils and Soils of Statewide Significance, the organizations have made it economically feasible for the land’s former leaseholder, Monkshood Nursery, to purchase the property.
Vernal Pools in Permanent Conservation
Conserved Land is adjacent to Stuyvesant Town Hall and as a public park
In a related transaction, the owner of 84 adjacent agricultural acres donated a conservation easement to CLC and entered into a long-term lease with Monkshood, increasing the permanently preserved land available to the farm operation for its continued growth.
A certified organic grower of herbs, greens and mixed vegetables, Monkshood Nursery plans to expand its greenhouses and increase the amount of land in cultivation. The farm currently sells at local and New York City greenmarkets and through a community supported agriculture (CSA) model, in which participants buy a share of the produce grown each year.
Protecting farmland is a high priority for both organizations. Collectively, they have conserved more than 18,000 agricultural acres in Columbia County.
Development pressure makes Hudson Valley farms especially vulnerable, right at a time when it’s imperative to increase the acreage of productive farmland to secure a sustainable ‘foodshed’ for the region and New York City. By preserving these properties, Scenic Hudson works with local farmers to ensure that their fields are always available to provide fresh produce and support Stuyvesant’s agricultural economy. I thank the landowners and Columbia Land Conservancy for making these successes possible.
Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan
This Scenic Hudson and Columbia Land Conservancy collaboration required not only organizational cooperation but cooperation of multiple families. The Phillips family sold the land to the Rowleys (who now have the long-term security they need and were seeking to expand Monkshood Nursery). The Goodwins donated an easement that will further support the farm operation. Collectively, the result is 166 acres of land that is now permanently available to a growing working farm.
I would like to thank everyone that has been involved with the Monkshood nursery, gardens and CSA project. Before, we were expecting to have to move to another location to meet the growing needs of our community and vendors. Now we have a firm footing on which to continue to build a site-specific farming operation and continue our growth in every aspect of our work. I want to especially thank the Columbia Land Conservancy, Scenic Hudson and the Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation for all their wonderful work, and to everyone that makes projects like this possible. Without them all, what would we be eating?
David Rowley, co-owner of Monkshood Nursery
We are pleased to have been able to help leverage the conservation of this valuable and productive farmland. We look forward to having our own land put back into productive agriculture and applaud the efforts of the Columbia Land Conservancy and Scenic Hudson for their roles in helping farmers like David and Melinda Rowley achieve a more stable land base from which to grow on.
Kieran Goodwin and Catherine Rocco, who donated the 84-acre easement to CLC
Funds for the transactions came from Scenic Hudson’s Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Hudson Valley Land Preservation Endowment.
Conservation has strong economic, ecological, and health upsides
The conservation easements preserve landscapes that contribute to the Hudson Valley’s $4.7-billion tourism economy that sustains 80,000 jobs, as well as its $810-million agricultural economy. The market value of produce grown on Columbia County farms exceeds $50 million annually. (More on the value of farms)
Protecting large, contiguous landscapes safeguards the interconnected network of diverse habitats on which many wildlife species depend. Increasing the acreage of protected open space also offers myriad human health benefits. Trees sequester pollutants that contribute to asthma, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease, while releasing oxygen. Farms, woodlands and wetlands collect and purify water that filters into the ground to recharge local aquifers, which communities depend on for drinking water. Vegetation and wetlands also intercept rainfall, preventing it from flowing into streams where it could cause flooding. Safeguarding prime wildlife habitats helps maintain biodiversity, which plays an important role in preventing diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease.