Approaches to Farmland Preservation in the Northeast, 4/29

Black dirt farm in Chester, NY

Wednesday April 29

11:30am – 2pm

Woodcock Foundation
6 West 48th St, 10th floor

Lunch will be served!

Register here by 4/27

This is a funder-only event with invited guests.
This event will be livestreamed (contact adam@northstarfund.org for login info)

[UPDATE: A video recording of this briefing is now available online]

Farmland throughout the nation is disappearing due to more lucrative opportunities for land use, such as commercial or housing development and private estates.  This is especially true in our region.  Loss of land and high land prices are preventing small farmers from accessing farmable land, and creates an incentive for established farmers to sell their land for non-agricultural uses.  This situation presents a problem for conservation, local food access, and farmers’ livelihoods.

Philanthropic funds, loans, and equity investments are all avenues to support the preservation of farmland in the Northeast.  Programs or managing organizations that can leverage agricultural and conservation expertise to effectively deploy these different types of funds are necessary to ensure that land is best put to use with a combination of environmental, social, and financial goals in mind.

Join us for a funder briefing where we will hear from three such groups working towards these goals.  This is the second briefing offered by CFF’s new Farmland Access & Preservation Working Group, following one held last November.

PRESENTERS

  • Steve Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, Scenic Hudson, and Executive Director, The Scenic Hudson Land Trust
  • Bob Bernstein, Manager, Chester Agricultural Center, and Managing Director, Northeast Farm Access
  • Jim Oldham, Executive Director, Equity Trust, and Manager, Equity Trust Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Fund

More about the presenting organizations

Fresh, local food improves our health, sustains our economy, feeds our culture and increases our resiliency. NYC’s annual unmet demand for regionally-produced food is nearly $1 billion.  Yet, Scenic Hudson’s NYC/Hudson Valley Foodshed Conservation Plan found that 89% of the valley’s farmland—a dependable supplier of local food to city farmers markets, restaurants, CSA’s and food pantries—is at risk of development. To secure its water supply, the city launched an innovative program in the 1990s to conserve land around its upstate reservoirs. Now the city can be a national leader by partnering with public and philanthropic stakeholders to protect the nearby farmland supplying its local food. Steve will brief the group on Scenic Hudson’s strategic plan and collaborative campaign to conserve the city’s regional foodshed and strengthen the region’s agricultural productivity.

Northeast Farm Access, LLC brings together farmers and social investors to revive and transform sustainable agriculture—yielding not just abundant clean, local food, but also a new generation of successful organic farmers. Our innovative projects create long-term access to farmland while also growing farmer and investor equity. With investor support, we buy land, transition it to organic, and lease it long-term and affordably to intermediate-level farmers. This year, Chester Agricultural Center, LLC, with the help of Northeast Farm Access, is breaking ground on 270 acres of black dirt. The Center’s four experienced farm operations signed 30-year renewable leases, ensuring affordable, enduring access to agricultural land.

The Equity Trust Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program promotes a focused regional effort to keep farms affordable and accessible to farmers, building on two decades of pioneering work nationally. Equity Trust has developed two models for permanently preserving farm affordability, derived from the broad concepts of conservation easements and community land trusts. Each model was designed to serve the goal of protecting not just farmland, but active food production, farmer housing, and long-term affordability based on an understanding that farming involves not just the land but also the human activity on, the community benefit from, and the stewardship of, that land. The Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program offers these tools, together with a combination of short term investment funds to secure access to land, and grant money to subsidize permanent affordability, to working farm projects being carried out in partnership with farmers, land trusts, and local communities in fifteen New York State counties.

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