OSI Shawangunk Farm and Viewshed Projects

Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

Shawangunk Farms and Viewshed Projects

Appeldoorn Farm (Sykes)

Van Dienst Appledoorn Farm

The purchase and preservation of the nearly 300-year-old, 140-acre Appeldoorn Farm, also known locally as the Sykes Farm is located in Accord, NY. It has an extensive history that is intertwined with the history of the Schoonmaker family, which has been farming the fertile fields of the Rondout Valley for 330 years.

According to the Friends of Historic Rochester, the original Schoonmaker to settle in the Rondout Valley, Jochem Schoonmaker, helped his son Benjamin build a dwelling on the Appeldoorn property in 1722. Five generations of Schoonmakers owned and farmed the property before it was inherited by two Schoonmaker nephews, Howard and Edward Sykes, in 1931. The Sykes nephews substantially expanded the old farmhouse into the manor house that it is today, and sold the property in 2003.

The property also includes 140 acres of productive farmland and woods, running along Route 209 and stretching from Whitfield Road over the Airport Road, which currently supports a beef cattle operation that is run by Wayne and Cathy Brooks. From Airport Road, the property (which includes an old runway used for crop dusting) has extensive views of the Shawangunk Ridge and the Rondout Valley.

Brach and Hawkings Farms

Brach Hawkins Farms

Together, the two farms consist of 483 acres, separating the Village of Montgomery and the Village of Walden, NY. The eastern border of both farms is the Wallkill River with approximately 6,610 feet of river frontage. That amounts to 1 ¼ miles of waterfront. Due to the terrain, the significant river frontage and the ability to sustain all types of agricultural and non-agricultural endeavors, these properties stood out as a substantial block of property vulnerable to pressures for subdivision and development. Thanks to OSI and State funding, these properties will remain in perpetuity as productive farmland.

Brooks Farm (Misner)

Brooks (Misner) Farm

In 2007, OSI was able to quickly respond to a direct threat of farmland loss by acquiring the 54-acre historic Misner Farm. Without OSI’s direct acquisition, this property, which is adjacent to the Davenport Farm and claims more than 40 acres of productive farm fields, could have been sold for residential subdivision and development.

In 2008, OSI sold approximately 45 acres of the Misner Farm in Marbletown to Frank and Cyndi Brooks. This Ulster County farm is protected by a conservation easement, which permanently limits development on the property except for expanded agricultural use.

The Brooks own the nearby 167-acre Generation Farm. The fields border the Esopus Creek, which flows out of the Catskill Mountains and is a significant freshwater tributary of the Hudson River. supporting an abundance of trout fishing enjoyed by anglers.


Davenport Farm

Davenport Farm Field

The Davenports have farmed in the Town of Marbletown for five generations. Isaiah Davenport arrived in the 1840s, and today three great-grandsons continue the tradition. Davenports—located in Stone Ridge, New York, a short drive from Kingston and New Paltz in the Hudson Valley—sells fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods and specialty foods from a roadside stand, maintains greenhouses, U-pick vegetables and a corn maze.

The farm lies in the immediate viewshed of the Shawangunk Ridge—one of the most notable of OSI's ongoing preservation regions—where we have protected over 25,000 acres. 

OSI and our partner Scenic Hudson have purchased a conservation easement on 325 acres of the Davenport Farm to ensure that the land remains available for farming and is not developed. Boasting highly prized soils (rated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as prime, the highest rating), the land yields high volumes of sweet corn, melons, pumpkins, and a variety of vegetables. The New York State Farmland Protection Program provided funding for 75 percent of the project, which closed in 2007, while the Open Space Conservancy (OSC), the land acquisition affiliate of OSI, and Scenic Hudson each contributed 12.5 percent.

Davis Arrowhead Farm

Davis Arrowhead Farm

In June of 2008, OSI and the Ulster County Farmland Protection Board announced the permanent protection of the 346-acre Arrowhead (Davis) Farm on Route 209 in the Towns of Rochester and Wawarsing, Ulster County, New York, by OSC. The farm is located just north of Kerhonkson.

The Davis Farm anchors some of the Rondout Valley’s finest agricultural land. The farm occupies a key geographic position in the center of the Valley, nestled between the Catskill Mountains and the Shawangunk Ridge and running along the Rondout Creek. Gently rolling hills, prime soils which provide excellent drainage, sweeping scenic vistas and significant frontage along NYS Route 209 make the Davis Farm one of the most scenic and important farms in Ulster County. The farm had been highly sought after for development due to its extremely desirable qualities. 

With the funds from the sale of the agricultural easement the Davis are able to turn their farm into a diversified agricultural business, ensuring that residents of the Rondout Valley have greater access to locally grown, safe, fresh and nutritious food, and additionally ensuring that their family farm and heritage will be preserved forever.


DeVries Seldomrest Farm

Devries Seldom Rest Farm

Seldomrest Farm is located in the Town of Crawford and has been in continuous operation for more than 100 years, surrounded on all sides by active agricultural operations.  The 144-acre farm produces 2.5 million pounds of milk per year and as one of New York State’s most productive dairy operations, it is referred to as “Dairy of Distinction.”

In recent years, dairy farms have felt enormous pressure from developers. There are two dairy farms still operating in the Town of Crawford in Orange County. Back when Henry Devries bought the “Seldom Rest Farm” in 1972, there were close to forty.

On June 22nd 2003, the Open Space Institute, with a suite of funding partners, acquired a conservation easement that guarantees that “Seldom Rest” will never become part of a vanishing rural landscape. Since acquiring the farm 41 years ago, Mr. Devries has raised 11 children there. His oldest son took over 15 years ago. “He's the boss now. I report to him,” said Devries, reassured that the farm, in operation for more than a century, has a new steward. “We've been waiting for this to happen for some time. This will always be the family farm. We'll stay here as long as we can afford the taxes,” said Devries.

With this easement, many natural resources were conserved at once—productive farmland, an ecologically significant stream, and scenic views of the Shawangunk Ridge.

Domino Farm

Domino Farm by Brett Cole

In partnership with the town of Rochester, the Open Space Institute (OSI) announced today the acquisition of a conservation easement on the 149-acre Domino dairy farm on Airport Road in the town of Rochester. The easement allows for dairy operations to continue on the historic farm, but ensures that the land, owned by Margaret DeWitt and managed by the DeWitt family, will not be developed. The preservation project is part of OSI’s ongoing Two Valleys Campaign, which focuses protection efforts on working farms in the Rondout and Wallkill valleys, an area of scenic beauty and abundant farmland.

In addition, an adjoining landowner in 2011 donated a conservation easement on his property—which he currently leases to the DeWitts—protecting 93 more acres, bringing the amount of protected land to approximately 242 acres. The easement was donated by landowners Robert and Eileen Rominger and will be held by the Rondout Esopus Land Conservancy and OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy.

The 54-year-old farm is situated in the foothills of the Shawangunk Ridge at the edge of the Catskill Mountains and enjoys a spectacular view of the Sky Top Tower and lands of the Mohonk Preserve. 

Hector Farm

Hector Farm

The 166-acre Hector farm, located just five miles south of Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center, lies within the Callicoon Creek Watershed and contains soils of statewide significance. The farm is currently being leased for hay and corn production and will ultimately be purchased with its lands incorporated into an adjacent dairy operation.


Hodgson Farm

Hodgeson Farm

In 2007, OSI placed a a conservation easement on the 51-acre Hodgson Farm located in the Town of Montgomery, Orange County, New York. For more than half a century, Rich and Melissa Hodgson have been working the land, first as chicken farmers and now as growers of fruits, vegetables and flowers. For the last 30 years, they’ve sold their farm-fresh products at New York City’s Greenmarket, their colorful abundant stand a fixture in Union Square and three other locations that are currently coordinated by the Hodgson’s daughter. The conservation easement protects the historical farm from development, ensuring its continued agricultural use for generations into the future.

The Hodgson Farm stands out not only due to its incredible success with diversification of farming initiatives (a corn maze, u-pick pumpkin and strawberry patches, a petting zoo, 4-H Club involvement and a strong role in the Greenmarket program), but also because of the enormous development pressure faced by the farm. Boasting over 1,500 feet of frontage on two major arteries in the Town of Montgomery and zoned “Highway Commercial,” the farm was a prime target to conversion to a non-agricultural use. Despite this pressure, the Hodgson family wished to continue farming for future generations. With the conservation easement, this hope has now been secured.

The Hodgson’s family story, from farm to market, was captured by legendary author John McPhee in his book, Giving Good Weight, an excerpt of which appeared in The New Yorker in 1978.

Hoekstra Family Farm
Farm in the Shawangunks Brett Cole

With commanding panoramic views of the Shawangunk Range, the 166-acre Hoekstra Family Farm spans both sides of a charming rural road. Possibly the site of an Indian village, the farm was originally settled in the late 1870s. The barn built in 1881 is still used in daily farming operations which include the production of 100,000 pounds of milk each day plus corn and hay fields.

The southeast corner of the farm is designated wetlands by New York State. The farm’s western periphery is graced by the Muddy Kill. Together, the wetland and the stream provide habitat for migratory birds, fish and many other species of wildlife. The permanent protection of the Hoekstra Family Farm in Orange County, New York, was secured in October 2003 by OSI. 

Because the Hoekstra Family’s four children all agreed that protecting the farm was a priority, they were unrelenting in their quest for perpetual farmland protection that was legal and binding. They learned that a Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) would encumber the farm and negate the possibility of subdivision or development, even if the farm changed hands. When they were turned down for a State Farmland Protection grant, the siblings sought municipal support and were please to discover that the Town of Montgomery was eager to help on the condition that other funding was leveraged.

Kiernan Farm

Greg Miller View to High Top Shawangunks

140-acre Kiernan Farm sits at the base of the Shawangunk Ridge. OSI acquired a conservation easement in 2011 that protects the three-century-old Kiernan farm, relying on partnerships with the Town of Gardiner and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In early 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded OSI a Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program grant that will cover approximately fifty percent of the purchase price for the conservation easement.

The easement on the Kiernan farm prohibits subdivision and limits future development while allowing farming to continue on the land, which has been in continuous agricultural production since it was part of the larger Gertrude Bruyn patent of 1682. Marty and Thelma Kiernan’s 65-cow grass-fed beef operation is one of the several farms that locals have dubbed the “Gardiner Beef Belt,” a critical mass of 1,300 acres of beef farming along County Route 7. Presently, the Kiernans are fixtures at the New Paltz, Ossining and Westchester farmers’ markets.

Menendez Sprucegate Farm

The next generation in Menedez Dairy Farm in the Barn

Dating back to the early 1880s, the 113-acre Sprucegate Farm has provided a breathtaking landscape of rolling farm field and open meadows. Since 1928, the Menendez family has operated the dairy, producing more than 1.8 million pounds of milk per year.

There are about 15 acres of wetlands on the property that provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. The farm’s eastern border contains nearly 2,100 feet of frontage on the Wallkill River as it flows north into Ulster County. “This land has been in our family for 80 years,” said Carol Menendez, who operates Sprucegate Farm along with her niece. “We wanted to preserve the livelihood that has sustained us for so long. We’re excited to be able to conserve the beauty of our area’s rural setting.”


Osterhoudt Farm

Osterhoudt Farm

The Osterhoudt family began farming this property located in the Town of Marbletown, Ulster County, in the early eighteenth century and has been a careful steward of the land for nearly three hundred years. In 2008, OSI secured a conservation easement on 95 acres of prime agricultural land belonging to Claude and Holly Osterhoudt. 

The easement allows the continued use of the existing farm complex, prohibits subdivision, and restricts the construction of additional structures. While the farm has been a successful beef operation for decades, the funds generated by the easement will allow the Osterhoudt’s to make substantial capital improvements to their farm, helping them face the economic challenges of farmers in the Hudson River Valley. 

NYS Route 213, a highway that runs through the Rondout Valley, bisects the Osterhoudt Farm, making the farm’s extensive frontage extremely attractive for residential development that would have profoundly disrupted the majestic views of the Shawangunk Ridge and Catskill Mountains that define this region.

The farm also sits atop the aquifer serving the Town of Marbletown’s principal drinking water supply and is located within the Marbletown Natural Heritage Plan’s core farming zone, making preservation of the land a high priority for the entire community. This conservation easement is part of OSI’s Two Valleys Campaign.

Demonstrating their support for land protection, voters in the Town of Marbletown approved a $2 million bond act to preserve open space in November 2006. The bond act campaign prominently featured the Osterhoudt Farm, known throughout the community. Since that time, OSI staff has assisted town officials in creating the requisite legislation and open space program to use these bond act funds most effectively.

OSI continues to work with the Osterhoudt family to protect the remaining acreage of their farm, an additional 120-acre parcel also located in the Town of Marbletown along Route 213.


Paul Farm

Paul's Farm

Originally a dairy operation, this second-generation farm in Hurley, New York is now devoted to growing sweet corn.

Protection of the 268-acre Paul's Farm was a high priority for the local town and state. Paul's Farm is highly productive with top quality soils, and was the first farm in Ulster County to be funded by the Department of Agriculture and Markets in the State Farmland Protection Program grants (PDRs) —A conservation easement which does not allow development and keeps the farm in agricultural production forever. (See below)

OSI, Scenic Hudson and the Town of Hurley stepped in to match the State’s contribution of 75% for the cost of the easement.

The farm forms a natural resource buffer along the bordering Esopus Creek with critical wildlife habitat for birds such as osprey on their spring migration path. The river is habitat for freshwater fish like the Shortnose Sturgeon. The DEC calls the Esopus “a wildlife rarity as a freshwater tributary of the Hudson River.”


Pastyik Vinegar Hill Farm

Pastyik Farm

The 95-acre Pastyik Farm on Vinegar Hill Road in the Town of Shawangunk,Ulster County includes a scenic landscape of hayfields, woods, streams, marshes and ponds. The wetland flows directly into the Shawangunk Kill and supports diverse bird species.

For the past 35 years, it has been hayed by a local farmer and now is regularly hayed by Thornedale Farms, a dairy operation in neighboring Sullivan County. The two previous owners actively farmed the property and ran an orchard until 1955 when it was then converted into a pheasant breeding operation. The name Vinegar Hill comes from the orchard’s operations in the late 1800s: a cart of apples being taken down the road from the farm overturned. The pile of apples left behind fermented in the hot sun and the smell lingered for months.


Phillies Bridge Farm

Phillies Bridge Farm

Phillies Bridge Farm, located in Gardiner, Ulster County, is one of the oldest working farms in New York State. First established in 1743 by descendants of the original French Huguenot settlers, the land is part of the fertile farmlands that lie east of the Shawangunk Ridge, outside of New Paltz in the Town of Gardiner.

Ten generations farmed the land until 1968 when it was sold outside of the family. In 1995, the picturesque land amidst the rolling fields and open meadows of Ulster County was donated by its owners to the Phillies Bridge Farm Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to agricultural education.

In 2003, as part of its ongoing effort to protect farmland in the Hudson Valley, OSI worked with its partners, the Wallkill Valley Land Trust and the Phillies Bridge Farm Project, to permanently protect this irreplaceable 65-acre farm with a conservation easement. A critical community effort to support farming as an important part of the local economy and the rural environment led to the success of the campaign. Today, Phillies Bridge Farm runs a CSA as well as provides food to hundreds of school children and local families each year.


Siegel Glen Haven Farm

Siegel Farm Scottish Highland Cattle

The 113-acre Siegel farm includes two components: a hot-house orchid operation that produces prize-winning flowers and Glen Haven Farm, which raises champion Gelbvieh and Scottish Highland breeding cattle stock. The farm sits atop an aquifer that is the main source of water for the Town of Crawford, and is in the viewshed of the Shawangunk Scenic Byway, the Mohonk Preserve and the Shawangunk and Schunnemunk Mountains. The farm also borders the Seldomrest Farm and is proximate to the Vellenga Farm as well.


Smiley and Van Alst

Smiley Property photo Greg Miller

The enormously scenic and historic Smiley Brothers lands, acquired from the owners of the famed Mohonk Mountain House, were acquired in September of 2011 in two separate parcels. The first, which includes the four-story stone Testimonial Gateway at the intersection of Gatehouse Road and Route 299, is an 857-acre expanse along Route 299, Butterville Road, Gatehouse Road and Pine Road west of the village of New Paltz. The second Smiley parcel is a 17-acre tract of forested land located near the entrance to Minnewaska State Park Preserve in the town of Rochester. This parcel includes the last stretch of historic, Victorian-era carriage road connecting the Mohonk Preserve and the Minnewaska State Park Preserve that is still in private ownership.

In 2011, 144 acres of additional farmland, located on the vast agricultural flats west of the Village of New Paltz and farmed for hundreds of years, were acquired by OSI from the Watchtower Society . 

Together, the Smiley and Watchtower acquisitions will not only protect one of the last large tracts of open space on the Shawangunk Ridge, but also account for (and protect) more than 30 percent of the active farmland in the 12,000-resident town of New Paltz. The now permanently preserved landscape forms much of the open space for the western portion of the town of New Paltz, and represents one of the largest and most high-profile land transfers in the Hudson Valley in recent years.



Vellenga Dairy Farm

Vellenga Farm View to the Shawangunks

The Vellenga family has been in farming for 150 years, operating a Dutch dairy that is now one of the largest in Orange County. Their farm is less than a half-mile from the Seldomrest Farm, which OSI preserved in 2006 using a PDR grant, and, now that it is protected, will provide an important buffer to the Dwaar Kill, which runs along the eastern border of the property for nearly a mile.


Wright Farm

Wright Farm with Sugarloaf Mountain

Located along a lengthy, visible stretch of Kings Highway, the  family farm is well known in the Warwick community and will provide a green entry into the historic town. The farm is comprised of meadows and fields of productive agricultural land containing rich soils. It is visited by the public seasonally for mixed produce, grass-fed beef, autumn festivities such as pumpkin picking, hay rides and a corn maze, as well as for Christmas trees in the winter. Every fall, hundreds of school children and their families visit the farm, as well as weekend "peepers" from across the New York metropolitan area.


Zylstra Farm
Hanehan Dairy Farm by Jim Newton

243-acre Zylstra Family Farm in the Town of Montgomery in Orange County, New York dates back to the 1800s and contains some of the best soils in Orange County, the state's fastest growing county. The Farm is also the site of state designated wetlands and on its western border, the Muddy Kill passes through the farm. These two water resources provide critical habitat for numerous wildlife.

Recognizing the importance of the Zylstra Farm, the Town of Montgomery applied for and received a grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, which makes farmland protection grants for the purchase of development rights (PDR).

The historic dairy farm has more than 4,700 feet of road frontage, making it an obvious development target. There is overwhelming development pressure in this area, with a great deal of demand for homes and home sites, and that places farms like the Zylstra Family Farm at serious risk.  


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