The Orange County Land Trust announced on Feb. 3 that it submitted an application to permanently protect a 105-acre dairy and vegetable farm in Otisville.
OCLT applied on behalf of Freedom Hill Farm through the Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program. The trust and the farm owners would use the grant for a conservation easement to preserve the farm in perpetuity while keeping it in agricultural use.
Freedom Hill Farm is best known for selling raw milk, a popular item that attracts customers from across the region. The farm has a New York State permit to sell raw milk and is regularly tested for quality control.
The farm also sells yogurt and kefir. In addition to their dairy and vegetable operations, they are also known for their hospitality; encouraging people to stop by during milking time to meet and enjoy the farm.
Co-owner of Freedom Hill Farm Ben Rader said, “I don’t want to leave our grandchildren in a world without family farms. I have seen how development and suburbanization have changed farm landscapes across the northeast, particularly in Orange and Rockland counties. We want to be a part of the solution, not the problem.”
The Land Trust was among several local municipalities to submit grants to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, who administers the competitive grant program.
“We’ve had a great showing of support for this project from the County Executive, Planning Department, and the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, so we are very hopeful that we can proceed in preserving this farm,” said the Land Trust’s Executive Director, Jim Delaune.
Back in October 2015, Governor Cuomo announced the availability of $20 million in funding. The Hudson Valley program helps farmers protect at-risk farmland and keep the land in agricultural use. This competitive grant program is administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Since 1993, Orange County Land Trust has helped preserve Orange County’s important natural resources, scenic landscapes and working farmland, resulting in the protection of over 5,000 acres of land.
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