The Columbia Land Conservancy knows it’s not just about open space, but what one does with that open space. In this beautiful county of ours, they have been really wonderful supporters of the agricultural community.
Martin Ping, Hawthorne Valley Association
WORKING FARMS ARE ENDANGERED
According to the American Farmland Trust, in New York State, we lose a farm every 3 days. From 2002 to 2007, Columbia County lost over 13,000 acres in working farmland. These farms are important to our region. As of 2007, there were 554 farms in Columbia County, which generated $66,000,000 in annual revenue. Farming maintains open spaces, provides wildlife habitat, and helps protect vital natural resources. When quality farmland is developed it is extremely difficult to bring it back. CLC is dedicated to ensuring that agriculture remains a dynamic part of Columbia County’s identity and economy.
HOW DOES CLC HELP FARMERS?
- The Farmer Landowner Match Program connects landowners looking to have their land farmed with farmers seeking land. In mid-2013, the program expanded into Dutchess County through a collaboration with the Dutchess Land Conservancy (DLC). The farm operations involved with these matches include meat, vegetables, and crops. As of July 2013, CLC has had 25 successful matches, farming on over 1,000 acres of land.
- The Conserve a Local Farm (CALF) Program connects sellers of active farmland with conservation-minded buyers, helping to ensure that the remaining farmland in Columbia County is accessible to farmers. CLC partners with the local real estate community to find positive matches, and then explores next-step opportunities to assist farmers and landowners, and ensure the protection of farmland and working farms.
- The Farmer Adviser program provides landowners and new farmers the opportunity to get guidance from an experienced farmer. The advisers discuss land’s agricultural potential, assist with lease discussions, as well as provide general advice.
- CLC also works with landowners who wish to voluntarily protect their farms with conservation easements. Approximately one-third of the 20,000 acres CLC has protected with such easements is working farmland. Recent projects include protecting 1,265 acres in a multi-county project, 233 acres at the Johannis L. Van Alen Farm, 297 acres at the Catskill View Farm, and 166 acres at Monkshood Nursery.
- CLC has also secured more than $7 million in federal, state, and private funding on behalf of towns and local farmers, ensuring the protection of approximately 5,800 acres of working farmland.
- A coalition made up of the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) and Columbia Land Conservancy is now working with the County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board to craft a plan to support and promote local agriculture.
- CLC serves as a resource to farmers by organizing and hosting events, creating and collecting resource information, and collecting relevant facts about why farming is so important to Columbia County.