SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 11, 2017— Leah Hennessy, a Capital Region native, was living in Los Angeles and working in the entertainment business when she discovered the female farmer movement and realized that was her calling. Hennessy returned to New York to gain farming experience and began looking for land to farm, aided by the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network (HVFN). HVFN is a partnership of 15 organizations coordinated by American Farmland Trust (AFT). Since its launch in 2014, HVFN has helped more than 150 farmers find land in the Hudson Valley.
“The Hudson Valley Farmlink Network was the only real resource I had at my fingertips,” Hennessy says. “I could always go on the Farmlink website and see what was out there, look at land prices and find opportunities.”
In June, AFT received a new grant of $450,000 from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) to strengthen the partnership’s efforts to help the next generation of farmers to access land across the Hudson Valley and to support similar efforts in New Jersey.
“One of the greatest obstacles beginning farmers face is accessing farmland,” says David Haight, AFT’s New York Director. “Transferring ownership of a farm is often a complicated process, with no one-size-fits-all solution. We greatly appreciate the support of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to help both beginning farmers looking for land and retiring farmers and farmland owners looking to keep their land in agriculture.”
“The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is proud to help enable the transition of farmland to the next generation of farmers in New York by supporting American Farmland Trust and the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network,” says Danielle Levoit, Program Officer for the Environment at DDCF. “It’s more important than ever that farmers have access to critical infrastructure they need to succeed, including the best regional farmland.”
HVFN hosts a website, HudsonValleyFarmlandFinder.org, which offers a free listing of farm properties and farmers seeking land. Hennessy created a profile on the website in 2015 to view available farmland, and in 2016 she went on an HVFN-sponsored bus tour of farmland on the market, organized and hosted by HVFN partner Agricultural Stewardship Association. She ultimately found a 46-acre farm in Washington County that was listed on the website, which she named Moxie Ridge Farm and Creamery.
Hennessy also consulted with HVFN partners throughout the process of buying the farm, and applied for an HVFN stipend to help cover legal costs during the purchase. “This particular transaction was very difficult,” Hennessy says. “Having the HVFN stipend was a really big deal.” Hennessy also turned to GrowNYC, another partner in the network, for assistance with finding a lawyer and reviewing legal documents. Hennessy participates in GrowNYC’s FARMroots program, which provided mentor and consultant grants to advance her skills.
Learn more about Moxie Ridge Farm at www.moxieridgefarm.com
The Hudson Valley Farmlink Network is a partnership of 15 organizations led by American Farmland Trust, including: Agricultural Stewardship Association; American Farmland Trust; Columbia Land Conservancy; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County; Dutchess Land Conservancy; Glynwood; GrowNYC; NOFA-NY; New York FarmNet; Orange County Land Trust; Saratoga PLAN; Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture; Westchester Land Trust; and Watershed Agricultural Council. To learn more, visit hudsonvalleyfarmlandfinder.org.
American Farmland Trust is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since 1980 American Farmland Trust has helped to permanently protect more than five million acres of farm and ranch land. Learn more at www.farmland.org.