Orange County Land Trust and Windfall Farms, a 142-acre farm specializing in mixed vegetables in the Town of Hamptonburgh, have finalized a conservation easement resulting in the farm’s permanent protection.
According to Orange County Land Trust Director of Conservation and Stewardship Matt Decker, the purpose of the conservation easement is to conserve viable agricultural land by preventing the conversion of the property to non-farm uses, ensuring Windfall Farms will be forever reserved for continued agricultural use.
The farm is situated in the Northern Wallkill Priority Area designated for farmland protection, as cited in the Land Trust’s Strategic Conservation Plan. The 2016 New York State Open Space Conservation Plan refers to this area as “Wallkill River Valley Priority farmland,” a critical region within the New York City/Hudson Valley foodshed. The farm also contains important natural resources, including wetlands and a tributary of the Otter Kill, known as Beaverdam Brook.
In 2014, OCLT received a Farmland Protection Implementation Grant for $931,800 from the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to make the preservation of the farm possible. Scenic Hudson Land Trust also contributed $303,750 towards the project.
“Orange County Land Trust is pleased to have led this effort to conserve Windfall Farms” said Executive Director Jim Delaune. “Protecting this farmland exemplifies the Land Trust’s Strategic Conservation vision and our commitment to the future of agriculture in Orange County. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball for supporting this vital project, as well as County Executive Steven Neuhaus, the Orange County legislature, Scenic Hudson, especially Cari Watkins-Bates, and the Town of Hamptonburgh.”
Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said: “Once again, The Orange County Land Trust has taken important steps to preserve Orange County for future generations to enjoy. This is a project that Windfall Farms will benefit from and that we can all be proud of. I appreciate the continuing work that the Land Trust has done in preserving our beautiful County.”
Farmer and Windfall Farms owner Morse Pitts said: “As I watched neighboring farms disappear over time, I became growingly concerned that my farm would face a similar fate. Fortunately, I found the Orange County Land Trust and worked with them and Scenic Hudson to conserve the farm and keep the soil alive.”
Now that the 142-acre farm is conserved, Morse Pitts intends on working with GrowNYC and FARMroots to bring new farmers in to cultivate the land. “Windfall Farms will become a place where many new farmers can make a living, build equity, succeed, and preserve more farmland” stated Pitts.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets administers the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program, the funding for which is allocated from New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).