Just in Time for Christmas! Laughing Earth Farm Protected from Development Forever

Thursday, December 22, 2016 -- Scenic Hudson

Katie Jilek, Agricultural Stewardship Association, katie@agstewardship.org
Seth McKee, Scenic Hudson, smckee@scenichudson.org

GREENWICH, NY – The Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA) and Scenic Hudson are pleased to announce the permanent protection of the 175-acre Laughing Earth Farm in the Town of Brunswick. The public is invited to a celebration at The Madison Theatre (1036 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12208) which will include a special screening of the film The Last Crop and panel discussion with Laughing Earth owners Zack and Annie Metzger on February 23rd at 7:00 pm. For more information visit themadisontheater.com or agstewardship.org.

“The support from ASA and its partners for our farm transition was vital and humbling,” exclaimed owners, Zack and Annie Metzger. “We know we would not have this farm today without their help.” Zack and Annie Metzger are only the fourth family to own this land in its over 220-year history. They leased their first farm in central Illinois, but when they were ready to move back east to farm they were fortunate to find Rich and Linda Bulson. The Bulsons wanted to retire and were looking for someone to lease their farm. Zack and Annie were soon growing food for their customers and selling products at the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market.

By the time the Bulsons decided to sell their farm, Zack and Annie had a solid business plan to take over the operation. The farm, however, is located close to the City of Troy, where residential development has driven up the price of land, making it unaffordable for young farmers like the Metzgers.

To protect the land from development and keep it for agricultural use, ASA was awarded a grant through New York State’s Farmland Protection Program, and Scenic Hudson partnered with ASA to provide the required 25-percent match from its Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Hudson Valley Land Preservation Endowment. By permanently protecting this historic farm through a conservation easement, it became affordable for the Metzgers to buy and will remain affordable for future farming generations. This program is funded through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets.

Additionally, Equity Trust funded a restriction as part of the conservation easement which will help to ensure that all future sales of the land will be to farmers at a price that reflects its value for agricultural use. Equity Trust also provided the Metzgers with a bridge loan from its Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Fund that allowed the farmers to secure the land until the farm could be protected.

"We are proud to support farmers like the Metzgers, who contribute so much to the region’s economy and food security, and to be able to collaborate with ASA, Scenic Hudson, and the State of New York in the important effort to preserve affordable working farms,” said Jim Oldham, Equity Trust’s Executive Director.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “As a farmer and as commissioner, I know how important farmland conservation is to the state’s entire agricultural community. Not only does this funding support the farmers directly involved in these projects, but it ensures the availability and affordability of one of the state’s most vital resources for future generations. I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to this effort and look forward to supporting additional projects in the future.”

“We’re thrilled to be helping these young farmers purchase this land from retiring farmers and protecting it so that it can always be available to grow food for the Capital District. What an exciting Christmas gift! I applaud Governor Cuomo and New York State for having such a positive impact on our food system and local agricultural economies. We also want to thank Scenic Hudson, Equity Trust and our community of supporters who came together to make this project happen” said ASA Executive Director Teri Ptacek.

“Scenic Hudson is delighted to collaborate with the Metzger family to protect land critical to sustaining and growing their farm operations, and we’re grateful for their commitment to ensuring the land will be available for the next generation of farmers. We also thank the Agricultural Stewardship Association, Equity Trust and New York’s Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program for their leadership and partnership in making this important project possible,” said Scenic Hudson Land Trust Executive Director Steve Rosenberg.

Laughing Earth Farm was a protection priority of Scenic Hudson’s Foodshed Conservation Plan (www.scenichudson.org/foodshedplan), a data-driven blueprint for ramping up collaborative farmland-protection efforts to create a secure source of fresh, local food for the Hudson Valley and New York City.

The Agricultural Stewardship Association was founded in 1990 by farmers to conserve local farmland and ensure a future for farming in our region. To date, ASA has helped conserve 17,160 acres of farmland on 110 properties in Washington and Rensselaer counties. For more information about ASA’s work, visit www.agstewardship.org.

Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. A crusader for the valley since 1963, we are credited with saving fabled Storm King Mountain from a destructive industrial project and launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, we are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. Our team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 65 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved nearly 40,000 acres.