Dutchess County pro­tects 87.5 acres of farm­land

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­line.com pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter

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.

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