Poughkeepsie… More than 80 additional acres in the Town of Red Hook will remain forever green as part of Dutchess County’s Partnership for Manageable Growth Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program. The purchase of a conservation easement on Mead Orchards from landowners Charles and Linda Mead was completed today.
“Success comes from great partnerships,” said Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus. “We are thrilled to celebrate the preservation of more than 80 acres of farmland in the heart of the Red Hook Breadbasket. Thanks to the successful partnership of the Mead family, Dutchess County, New York State Ag & Markets, the Town of Red Hook and the Dutchess Land Conservancy, this land is protected for the generations of both today and tomorrow to treasure.”
This is Dutchess County’s second Farmland Protection Implementation Grant for Mead Orchards. The Mead family used the proceeds from the 2002 sale of the development rights on their original 100-acre farm to purchase this neighboring property and double the size of their pick-your-own orchard and farm market operation in the critical Red Hook Breadbasket area. Mead Orchards is part of the network of farm and farmers’ markets that make a significant contribution to the Town of Red Hook’s and Dutchess County’s agricultural and tourism industries.
The Mead Orchards conservation easement purchase was made possible by combining resources from numerous partners. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets provided a Farmland Protection Implementation Grant of $427,819, or 75% of the cost of purchasing the agricultural conservation easement on the 82-acre Mead Orchard property. Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth/Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program provided a $71,836 (13%) matching grant, the Town of Red Hook provided an additional $56,400 toward the purchase, with Dutchess Land Conservancy contributing $12,500 in in-kind services.
Financial participation by the local municipality is essential to the success of this program. County Executive Steinhaus has designed the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth/Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program to be the last money in to attract other funds, therefore assuring local support. The Town of Red Hook was among the first in Dutchess to respond to the County Executive’s call for municipal support of the County’s open space and farmland protection initiative, approving a $3.5 million funding program.
“We are pleased to have been a partner with the County from the very beginning of this successful program,” said Town of Red Hook Supervisor Sue Crane. “Together we have been able to protect key farmland assets that represent the heart of our farm industry and preserve Red Hook’s unique rural character. Our sincerest gratitude goes to the Mead Orchard family, who for generations have lived by proud, informed values that arise from working the land. Their legacy will enrich our region for generations to come.”
In November 2009, Dutchess County completed acquisition of a conservation easement on the neighboring Wil-Hi Farm on Scism Road. Together these easements secure more than 1,500 feet of frontage on Route 9 at the northern gateway to Dutchess, and add to the critical mass of protected farmland in the Red Hook Breadbasket.
Since Dutchess County’s Partnership for Manageable Growth Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program was initiated in 2000, New York State grants totaling more than $8.3 million have been committed to Dutchess County projects. When all pending projects have been completed, the County will have leveraged its $6.6 million investment to protect approximately 3,200 acres of invaluable resources valued at more than $24 million.
“We are blessed in Dutchess County to have landowners such as Charles and Linda Mead, supportive local municipalities, and non-profit land conservancies who believe in the vision of what we are doing, who believe in the beauty of the land and will work together with us to preserve these treasures for years to come,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.