Photo: FLLT

Afoot in the Field (Vol 5, Issue 2)

Download:  Afoot in the Field, Volume 5, Issue 2 (PDF)

Published Summer 2014


From the Introduction:

The majority of the Finger Lakes region, like much of central and western New York, is defined by agriculture.  Tractors and combines roll across thousands of acres of corn and soybean fields.  Live- stock graze in pastures large and small.  Milk trucks roll in and out of dairies, and the NY yogurt business is booming to unprecedented levels.  Families visit orchards and fruit fields to pick delicious treats.  Vineyards provide the raw material for a growing and acclaimed wine industry. Vegetables appear in local farm stands, in shares at local community supported agriculture (CSA) farms, and on big trucks headed to processing plants owned by major food companies.  Young adults home on summer vacation stack hay bales with their parents or neighbors; and even younger kids groom their favorite cow, horse, chicken, or rabbit for the county fair.

Despite the overall decline in the number of farms in America, and the loss of important farmland to development, agriculture remains a huge component of our economy, and a way of life for millions of people.  The bumper sticker proclaiming “No Farms, No Food” says it all, as does the road sign on Rt. 14A in Yates County that shows a picture of a farmer on a tractor and says “These people feed you three times a day.”  But farmers can be credited with more than just creating food and jobs.  Most farmers are also excellent stewards of the soils they depend on, and farm properties often account for substantial acreages that contain other natural resources such as watercourses and woodlots.  And don’t forget that residents and visitors alike grin while taking in the magnificent scenery that is afforded over the spread of wide-open agricultural lands across our landscape.

Thinking about how to prioritize and protect some of the many working farms in our very large region is a somewhat daunting prospect.  Fortunately, there are state and federal sources of funding for the purchase of conservation easements from farmers, who often are not in a financial position to donate such easements, and towns and counties with agricultural land protection boards in place to help identify participating farmers.  Before the NY State funding program for farmland protection stalled a few years ago, the Finger Lakes Land Trust partnered with local government and accepted easements on six farms in Ontario and Yates Counties.  As FLLT Land Protection Specialist Elizabeth Newbold explains in this issue of Afoot in the Field, the funding for the state Farmland Protection Implementation Grant Program has finally been restored for this year, and the Finger Lakes Land Trust is gearing up for more important farmland protection projects.  We are also grateful to Jim Hicks, who committed to a conservation easement on his farm in Canandaigua, for sharing his perspectives as a farmer in an area with high land values and high development pressure…

Download:  Afoot in the Field, Volume 5, Issue 2 (PDF)

You can download Afoot in the Field, our biannual stewardship pamphlet for landowners, in PDF format.  See all issues here.