Jeffersonville, NY – Augmenting a $5,000 grant from the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, Sullivan County will funnel nearly half a million dollars in New York State funds to a Jeffersonville farm to preserve agricultural land, protect a municipal water supply and boost agritourism.
“Like Sullivan County, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets recognize that local, small-scale farms are worth protecting,” noted Sullivan County Planning Commissioner Freda Eisenberg. “We are thrilled that the State is giving $491,250 to Hilly Acres Farm so that this family operation can continue to grow and future generations can enjoy clean water and wholesome food.”
In 2017, the Sullivan County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board issued public notices seeking farms interested in applying for a future round of the NYS Agriculture and Markets’ Farmland Protection Implementation Grant, which provides local governments, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and land trusts with grants to offset costs of conservation easements to protect viable agricultural land from being converted to non-agricultural use.
The six farms that applied were ranked based on criteria listed in the 2014 Sullivan County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan. Hilly Acres Farm ranked high due to its proximity to important natural resources and long-term sustainability, and thus the County submitted an application to the State, in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County, the Delaware Highlands Conservancy and the Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board.
This particular grant will protect 233 acres owned and actively managed by Andrew and Tanya Hahn, proprietors of Hilly Acres Farm, which raises a variety of livestock and sells beef, pork, lamb and poultry products at farmers’ markets. With son Michael, the couple hosts an annual “Farm Fest,” a successful agritourism initiative.
“The farm is located next to the Village of Jeffersonville’s water supply and thus is a crucial buffer zone to ensure clean drinking water for the municipality,” explained District 4 Legislator Catherine Owens, chair of the Sullivan County Legislature’s Parks, Agriculture and Sustainability Policy Committee. “The property also contains 1% prime soils and 61% statewide important soils and is a highest-priority farm designated for protection by Sullivan County’s Open Space Plan, Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan and the Scenic Hudson Land Trust within its Hudson Valley/New York City Foodshed Plan.”
“Our farm has been in operation for over a century, and our son hopes to continue that proud tradition for many more decades,” said Tanya Hahn. “To continue to thrive and to remain a viable part of the community we love, we are in the midst of planning to expand our meat and poultry production, finish certification as a humane facility, and offer overnight on-farm stays to promote local agritourism. These monies will help us realize those goals to a degree we otherwise couldn’t have reached.”
This funding may be made available by the State again, and if so, the Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board will release application details for interested farms.