American Farmland Trust brought a delegation from New York City’s watershed to Suffolk County on Long Island this week. For over a century, New York City’s drinking water has come from reservoirs in the Catskill region. In the early 1990s, a voluntary program was established in the watershed to help farmers protect water quality, allowing the city to avoid filtering its water at a potential cost of billions of dollars. “This group will share valuable lessons learned about protecting New York City’s water supply by conserving farmland and help farmer use sound farming practices. In essence, farmland acts as a natural water filter for over 9 million people,” said David Haight, New York State director for American Farmland Trust. The farm tour and public forum is part of an initiative American Farmland Trust is undertaking in partnership to help farmers protect water quality by adopting cutting edge nutrient management and soil health practices.
“Riverhead farmer Phil Schmitt details conservation efforts at his farm” – Riverhead News-Review – June 22, 2014
A farm leasing workshop for farmers and landowners, co-hosted by American Farmland Trust, will be held on June 26. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, farmers rent nearly two million acres of farmland in New York. Real estate development in places like the Hudson Valley is making farmland available for rent more scarce. “With fierce competition and dwindling farmland resources in Saratoga County, conserving farmland and maintaining access is more important than ever,” said Maria Trabka, executive director of Saratoga PLAN. The workshop is part of a series offered by the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network, a partnership of organizations, coordinated by American Farmland Trust, dedicated to facilitating farm transfers and making farmland accessible to the next generation of farmers in the Hudson Valley. To pre-register call (518) 895-8995 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Funding for this workshop is provided by the USDA Risk Management Agency.
American Farmland Trust’s New York Council traveled to New York City this month to visit the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House with GrowNYC. “Our visit was extremely educational,” said New York Council member Peter Ten Eyck. “We learned about the challenges foodservice workers are facing as they try to get fresh healthy produce out of the farm fields and onto the plates of urban people in need.” Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, based in Manhattan, provides 300,000 healthy meals to people in need, including children, homeless and formerly homeless adults and seniors, as well as offers education about healthier options for cooking at home along with fresh vegetables and fruits from their Community Supported Agriculture program. Lenox Hill Neighborhood House is now partnering with GrowNYC’s Fresh Food Box Program to allow underserved communities and individuals to purchase healthy, locally-grown produce in pre-packed boxes containing the best of what is seasonally available from regional farms.
Last Wednesday Governor Cuomo announced the availability of $20.5 million to protect working farms for future generations. “Protecting and maintaining farmland is vital to supporting the continued growth of New York’s robust agricultural industries,” said Governor Cuomo. Along with this announcement, the state issued a request for proposals for farmland protection funding for the first time since the state’s fiscal crisis in 2008. For the past five years American Farmland Trust has worked closely with farmers, land trusts, local governments and others to restart this critical program, lobbying state leaders, writing op-eds, and testifying at legislative hearings. “American Farmland Trust applauds Governor Cuomo for restarting New York’s Farmland Protection Program,” said David Haight, New York State Director for American Farmland Trust. “This program helps the next generation of New York farmers secure land and protects the farmland that is critical to local food security and the continued growth of our farm and food economy.”
The Hudson Valley Farmlink Network (HVFN), is hosting a series of workshops focusing on farmland leasing, farm transfer and estate planning. Recent workshops have been held in Washington, Ulster and Orange counties. “In these workshops farmers and landowners are getting to hear from their peers as well as professionals in farmland leasing and farm transfer,” said Tim Biello, New York Field Representative for American Farmland Trust, who is coordinating the workshops. “This enables farmers and landowners to expand their knowledge and resource networks, which helps landowners interested in leasing find farmers to work their land and assists farmers in establishing secure farmland access.” Additional workshops are scheduled in Saratoga County on June 26 , in Dutchess County on September 13, and in Columbia County on September 24, as well as a workshop in Westchester County, date to be announced. This workshop series is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency.