Conservation Groups Announce Protection of Wagon Wheel Farm in Goshen, NY

Scenic Hudson and the Orange County Land Trust have partnered to protect 58-acre Wagon Wheel Farm, located in the Town of Goshen. The conservation easement, which was finalized on Tuesday, August 29, keeps the farm in active agriculture and its high-quality soils permanently protected from non-agricultural development.

Wagon Wheel Farm is a family farm specializing in produce and hay located off Sarah Wells Trail in Goshen. Co-owner Jason Touw, who had been leasing portions of farmland since 2001 from Joan Kozareski, continued expanding operations along with his wife, and farm co-owner, Kristin Touw.

Upon Joan Kozareski’s passing, the farmland was marketed for its subdivisional value, and local residents united in a show of strong support for the Touw family and sustaining local agriculture in their community.

photo courtesy: Wagon Wheel Farm

In 2020, the beneficiaries of Kozareski’s estate ultimately decided to sell the property to the Touws, enabling them to continue operating their farming business and living on the land.

The farm was a priority of Scenic Hudson’s Hudson Valley-New York City Foodshed Conservation Plan, a blueprint for ramping up the protection of agricultural land to meet rising demand for fresh, local food in the region and city.

To fund the purchase of the conservation easement, Scenic Hudson secured a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s NRCS Agricultural Land Easement Program. Scenic Hudson provided 50% of the matching funds required by the grant, which came from the organization’s Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Hudson Valley Land Preservation Endowment. The Orange County Land Trust will hold the conservation easement in perpetuity.

The Touw family said: “We consider ourselves stewards of the land and are grateful for the organizations and community members that came together to make this project a success.”

Executive Director of The Scenic Hudson Land Trust and Land Programs Seth McKee said: “Conserving farms like Wagon Wheel has become even more critical as the valley faces mounting development pressures. Scenic Hudson was delighted to partner with the Orange County Land Trust and U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure these productive fields will remain available for the Touw family — and future generations of farmers — to sustain their operations and continue providing Goshen residents with the freshest, most nutritious food.”

Orange County Land Trust Executive Director Jim Delaune said: “What makes the protection of Wagon Wheel Farm especially meaningful is the fact that saving the farm had become a rallying point for the community. Their collective voice and the perseverance of the Touw family ultimately took development off the table. As one of the last remaining working farms just outside the Village of Goshen, we are extremely proud to have worked with the Touw family and Scenic Hudson to permanently protect Wagon Wheel Farm.”

Kim Farrell, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist – Easements, commented: “The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easements protects the long-term viability of working farms by removing the risk of conversion to non-agricultural uses. Protecting Wagon Wheel Farm would not have been possible without the voluntary participation of the Touw family and their vision to conserve agricultural lands. NRCS values its partnership with Orange County Land Trust and Scenic Hudson to keep valuable farmland as working land within the Hudson Valley. NRCS looks forward to continuing this partnership to protect additional farmland in the future.”

Wagon Wheel Farm is a family operated hay, egg and produce business that strives to balance agricultural quality with environmental sustainability, preserve a way of life, and maintain the rural bucolic character at the heart of Orange County. Its farmstand, located at 363 Sarah Wells Trail in Goshen, is open daily from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. For farmer’s market locations, events, and more information, click here.