Kim Elliman's Your Environment podcast on the Mid-Hudson News - May 4, 2012
Farming in New York is a huge enterprise—the industry had sales of over $4 billion in 2007 and nearly a quarter of the state’s total land area is utilized as farmland.
The preservation of farmland protects our scenic landscapes. It also boosts local economies. When you buy local food, you keep dollars closer to home, avoid the use of fossil fuels needed to ship food long distances, and you assure yourself of healthy food. In many cases, farms also provide critical riparian buffers which protect wildlife habitat, as well as drinking water and high quality soils.
Between restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets, the demand for locally grown food has steadily risen. However, land costs are also high, and farmers are often priced off their own land. OSI uses conservation easements or the purchase of development rights to protect farmland and farmers so they can help meet the demand for local food.
In the Hudson Valley, OSI preserves farms primarily in several focus areas: in the towns of Warwick, Crawford and Montgomery in Orange County, in the Kinderhook Creek Corridor in Columbia County, and in the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys in Ulster County.
In Warwick, we’ve protected two farms already this year. Warwick is one of only a handful of communities in New York State that has enacted a dedicated fund to support open space protection, and OSI has developed a great partnership with the town based on its agricultural preservation goals.
In the Kinderhook Corridor, OSI’s efforts have preserved both agriculture and history on some of New York’s most fertile soils, centered on Martin Van Buren’s historic farm, a National Park site.
OSI has also invested more than $5 million in the protection of farms in the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys. In 2007, OSI launched the Two Valleys Campaign, which expanded our conservation focus to the agricultural communities that flank the Shawangunks: the Wallkill Valley to the southeast and the Rondout Valley to the northwest. This protects our investment in the ridge and maintains the charm and character for which the Valley’s farming communities are famous.
OSI supports well-managed small farms that utilize innovative marketing practices and offer locally grown, organic and other specialized products to consumers. The Hudson Valley’s farms create a wealth of these products—from fruit and vegetables to milk and wine—that contribute generously to the local and regional economy.
Remember to support local farms and local economies with your dollars by buying local. For much more information on OSI’s work, visit our website at www.osiny.org.
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