December 20, 2017 – If you’ve traveled east or west along Prospect Hill Road in the Town of Stanford, you’re familiar with its scenic views. Rolling hills dotted with sheep and cattle and the presence of the large green livestock barn of Uphill Farm can give you the impression that you have traveled back to a simpler time. If you have admired this pastoral view, you’ll be pleased to learn that 112 acres of Uphill Farm has been forever protected by a sale of the development rights on the land. This ensures that the farm will remain open and available for agriculture for current and future generations.
Jonathan Kagan, owner of Uphill Farm, worked closely with the Dutchess Land Conservancy (DLC), and partners New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) and the 1772 Foundation on the planning, implementation, and ultimate protection of the farm. Funding awarded by NYSDAM (from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund) and the 1772 Foundation helped complete the transaction. And, as the grant applicant on behalf of the landowners, the DLC served as the project manager, provided a portion of the closing costs and in-kind services, and will hold and oversee in perpetuity the conservation easement on the farm.
“The entire Uphill Farm family is deeply grateful to the DLC, NYSDAM and the 1772 Foundation for giving us the opportunity to keep this now protected acreage dedicated to local agriculture,” said Jonathan Kagan. “The spirit of preservation both of rare breeds and now increasingly rare pasture land is what attracted us to farming in Dutchess County in the first place.”
“Jonathan Kagan’s dedication to land conservation is well known to the DLC,” said the DLC’s President Becky Thornton. “In 2007, he protected a 31-acre portion of Uphill Farm, and now, after careful planning, he has ensured that another 112 acres will remain in agriculture to benefit area residents and visitors. Located within one of the County’s priority farming areas, protection of Mr. Kagan’s land continues the farming tradition, contributes to the local economy, and ensures that residents have access to healthy, local products for years to come. In a time where consumers aren’t always sure what’s in their food, operations like Uphill Farm can help us rest assured that we know what we are feeding our families.”
The 1772 Foundation’s Executive Director Mary Anthony (who visited Uphill Farm) said, “It’s exciting to visit and see the working landscape. Land trusts have compelling agriculture and food visions reflected in their strategies for conserving the land and assuring its farming future.”
The property sits on the south side of Prospect Hill Road in the Town of Stanford located in a core farming area of over 1,600 acres of active farmland with diverse operations. Uphill Farm is a beef operation renowned for its purebred red and black Galloway and Belted Galloway cattle and also supports MCSCMS Livestock, a sheep operation run by Mary, the wife of Uphill Farm manager Jerry Stephens. MCSCMS Livestock leases the northern fields from Uphill Farm for their operation and boasts 30 Shropshire ewes bred for lamb meat and shorn for their wool. The wool is processed and sold for quilt batting, roving and yarn. Jonathan’s daughter, who is active in Dutchess County 4-H, also has a small flock of Romney sheep in order to learn the business of breeding, raising and showing sheep alongside Mary Stephens. Through protection of Uphill Farm, the continued agricultural use of the land is now secured and is supported by the strong relationship between the two operations running on the property.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball, said “New York State is nearly 36,000 family-farms strong and is highly regarded among the agricultural states in the nation. This project and many others just like it, are the key to continuing that success and growing our industry for the next generation. We are proud to support Uphill Farm, in partnership with Dutchess Land Conservancy, to permanently keep this valuable farmland in agricultural production.”
The protection of the Uphill Farm property also has advantages for local residents beyond access to local, fresh and healthy meats. Even after development rights are sold, agricultural lands stay on the tax rolls, ensuring towns can continue to provide critical services. Studies indicate that agricultural lands cost communities significantly less to provide services to than residential lands. Both of these advantages result in a win for towns struggling to keep taxes as low as possible – something all local citizens can benefit from.