Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus signed legislation today to acquire an agricultural conservation easement for the Steiner Farm in Red Hook under the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth/Open Space and Farmland Protection Program. The County will contribute $652,000, or 50 percent of the funding needed to purchase the development rights on the farm. The matching 50 percent was approved unanimously by the Town of Red Hook Town Board, and will be the first funding provided by the Red Hook Open Space Program.
County Executive Steinhaus stated, “The Steiner Farm acquisition represents an important milestone for the County and for the Town of Red Hook. Our Matching Grant Program was the first County initiative of its kind in the Hudson Valley; Red Hook’s $3.5 million Farmland Protection Fund is the first dedicated municipal fund in Dutchess County. I think it’s a success, and we hope to see other municipalities follow Red Hook’s lead.”
Steiner Farm is a 228-acre farm complex at 324 Budds Corners Road in the Town of Red Hook. This area contains some of the most productive farm soils in the Hudson Valley, and has been the historic site of prosperous broad-scale farming operations. One hundred fifty-two acres on the Steiner property are prime soils, and are part of a much larger area designated as the Red Hook ‘Breadbasket’. Steiner Farm adjoins the active farm operation at Linden Farms, which was also acquired with funds from the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth/Open Space and Farmland Protection Program earlier this year.
Rebecca Thornton, Executive Director of the Dutchess Land Conservancy stated, “The Steiner project is unlike any other in Dutchess County. For the first time ever we are seeing a partnership between the Town of Red Hook and the County to protect important farmland. This project will be the first use of Red Hook's bond, approved by voters last fall, to preserve farmland in the town. With the County's matching grant, and with the assistance of Dutchess Land Conservancy, the protection of Mr. Steiner's 224-acre farm will be more than just a dream - it will become a legacy.”
Owner John Steiner, whose home on the property dates from 1790, said that he wanted to prevent any future non-farm development on his farm, adding, “We want to stay here, but would not want to look at rows of houses instead of these beautiful fields.”
County Executive Steinhaus added, “The Dutchess Land Conservancy has also been an invaluable partner in its efforts to protect the Red Hook ‘Breadbasket’. The Steiner Farm acquisition represents one of the key initiatives of our Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program, which is to create partnerships, and in this case with a municipality, to leverage funds to protect our scenic and agricultural resources.”
“By matching Town of Red Hook funds Dutchess County has once again displayed our commitment to the preservation of vital farmland. The protection of the Steiner Farm is a testament to our bold, creative and successful partnership for manageable growth,” Marcus Molinaro, Dutchess County Legislator (T/Red Hook).
The County Legislature approved the award of $652,171 to the Town of Red Hook at its October 13th Board Meeting.
Since the establishment of the Matching Grant Program the Dutchess County Planning Board has recommended approximately $3.9 million for open space and farmland proposals that would protect 1,790 acres. The Board anticipates an increase in applications as communities commit to local participation. The County Executive has committed $7 million to the program to date, with the goal of protecting at least 10,000 acres of resources over the coming decade.