Dutchess County protects 87.5 acres of farmland
MILAN >> A farm in this Northern Dutchess town that hosts a 110-member community-supported agriculture operation has become the first Dutchess County farm since 2008 to be forever protected from development under the county’s Partnership for Managemable Growth program since 2008.
County Executive Marc Molinaro on Monday announced the county had purchased the development rights to the 87.5acre property owned by Larry and Betti Steele.
“This particular farm continues an effort to protect what is a series of farm properties in the Red Hook and Milan area that have already been preserved and are active farmlands,” Molinaro said Tuesday.
Dutchess County paid $115,750 toward the purchase price of $463,600. The state Department of Agriculture and Markets provided the remaining $347,850.
From 1999 to 2008, the county embarked on an aggressive campaign to purchase the development rights of farmland throughout the county, protecting more than 3,000 acres that were at risk of being developed.
The program then went unfunded until 2016, when $1 million was included in the budget for farmland protection.
Molinaro said that in addition to the Steele Farm, the county will purchase the development rights to five other farms in Dutchess County for a total of $936,000. Among them is the 175-acre Chaseholm Farm in Pine Plains.
In reviving the program, Molinaro said he also revamped it slightly to shift the focus to ensure the continued vitality of the farming operation itself.
“It’s not simply the preservation of farmland, it’s whether we have a viable farm business that with these dollars would continue to be viable,” he said.
In addition to the Great Song Farm communitysupported agriculture operation, the Steele Farm includes a 30-beehive apiary, and pasture land for chickens, cows and draft horses. There also is a farm store on the property where community agriculture operation members can purchase items from other area farms.