Peter speaking with Gov. George Pataki
Preserving Our Land
An important mission for Indian Ladder Farms has always been helping to establish a connection between food on our plates and the land. In the age of mega-grocery stores and suburban sprawls, we as a community and a nation are losing our connection with how our food is produced. The Hudson Valley has a long history of farming, with twenty percent of the economy being farm-based. Today, however, farming in the Hudson Valley is in jeopardy. One hundred years ago there were over sixty fruit farms in Albany County; now there are only two remaining. Farm land is rapidly being claimed for housing and shopping developments. We are losing what was once unspoiled farm land. In 1997, American Farmland Trust named the Hudson Valley as one of the nation’s ten most endangered farmland areas.
In 2000, Indian Ladder Farms recognized the potential impact of this loss of farmland. Laurie Ten Eyck, the daughter of the current owner, led efforts to retire the development rights to the majority of the land owned by Indian Ladder Farms. In an effort to preserve prime agriculture land and to ensure our ability to produce our own food, the state of New York offered competitive grants covering 75% of the costs to farmers willing to sell the development rights. The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy and the Open Space Institute, together with friends and neighbors of the farm, joined our efforts and helped to raise the necessary 25% of the development rights. Although the conservancy status of the land reduced its value to commercial buyers, it preserves the land for the future of farming. The land must remain available for agricultural purposes, it can not be developed. In May 2003, Indian Ladder Farms was the first farm in Albany County to receive the state’s grant to retire the development rights. As Peter G. Ten Eyck II said at the time, “Having a place where people can observe and participate in the process of growing food is worth doing.”