300-acre farm to sell in Kerhonkson - BlueStone Press
October 21, 2017
Rondout Ag

300-acre farm to sell in Kerhonkson

Arrowhead Farm, past, present and future

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Arrowhead Farm (not to be confused with Arrowood Farm in Accord) is an approximately 300-acre farm in Kerhonkson. Peter Davis, present owner, is from a multigenerational farming family, starting with a great-grandfather, who bought land in the Town of Olive.

“Our original farm is under the Ashokan Reservoir,” Davis said. When the reservoir was built, his family was among those compensated by the state for the loss of their land, and they decided to settle where Arrowhead Farm is now, in Kerhonkson. “My grandfather bought it in 1911,” Davis said thus the farm has been in the family for nearly a century. Like many in the area, it was once a dairy operation, but as that business became harder to earn a living from, they switched to growing corn, soybeans and hay.

Why he has decided to sell the place is a familiar story: High property taxes are making it difficult to turn a profit.

“I can’t afford to farm and live in New York state,” he said flatly, and is looking at a similar-size farm in East Tenessee, which he says has some of the lowest taxes in the nation. However, Davis definitely wanted to see his land stay a farm, so when he learned that an organization known as Northeast Farm Access had an interest in negotiating a sale, he was happy to do business with them. “They’re good people,” in his opinion. “We’re pretty confident they’re going to do a good job.”

More about Northeast Farm Access: What is it? The website has a concise explanation: “Northeast Farm Access LLC brings together farmers, social investors and local allies, especially conservation land trusts, to revive and transform sustainable agriculture—yielding not just abundant clean, local food, but also a new generation of successful organic farmers. Our innovative projects create long-term access to farmland and food while also growing farmer and investor equity. With investor support, we buy land, transition it to organic, and lease it long-term and affordably to experienced farmers.” Its director is Bob Bernstein, whose job description is “community-based development practitioner.” Bernstein “has been connecting individuals and groups with land, public facilities and affordable housing for 40 years.”

Long-term is accurate. At Arrowhead Farm, 30-year leases will be offered; the number of acres per farmer has yet to be decided, but NEFA will be looking for people with at least some farming experience. The organization has been involved in many similar projects across the Northeast. Davis and family won’t be leaving right away -- on the contrary, he said, “We’ll be here for a few years to help them transition to organic.”

NEFA envisions a diversity of crops being produced there, “from haying to livestock to vegetables, and of course the continued production of maple syrup. For the 2017 growing season, we are working with the current owner and farmer planting organic cover crops using organic practices.”

The sale has not quite been completed, but said Davis, “they [NEFA] have invested a lot of money already” in the venture. While the farm itself is still in contract, NEFA has already purchased the former Maybrook Lodge on Route 209, about a mile from Arrowhead’s fields, to be converted into housing for farm workers -- some are already in residence. There are seven buildings on its 15 acres, so a substantial number of people will be able to live there. NEFA considers the Mayfair property “a critical piece in the work to create access to farmland, by creating access to affordable housing within close proximity to the land.”

In keeping with NEFA’s philosophy of bringing people together, there is also a plan for using the Maybrook’s grounds and meeting rooms for community-based events, in part to help to support sustainable agriculture.

On the web: nefarmaccess.com

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