CHATHAM — Thanks to a grant from the State of New York and the work of the Columbia Land Conservancy and Scenic Hudson, Saulpaugh Farm in Columbia County has been protected with a conservation easement. The Saulpaugh family has owned the 121 acres of land that are now protected with a conservation easement for more than 75 years.

At one point, VR Saulpaugh & Sons was the largest supplier of fresh green beans in the Hudson Valley, and was farming a total of 1,500 acres of land predominately growing green beans as well as grapes. In 2013, as part of their own transition away from their dairy operation, the Kukon Brothers, LLC began to collaborate with the Saulpaughs and to use their lands to expand upon a more profitable grain operation. The Kukons currently farm on 240 acres of land they own and an additional 2,500 acres of leased land.

The grant allowed the CLC to acquire a conservation easement on the land from the Saulpaughs. The easement contains an affordability provision that enabled the Kukons to purchase the property, so they can continue to grow their business producing corn, beans, wheat oats and hay that support the operations of many food-producing farms. The provision also will keep the farmland affordable for future operators.

Scenic Hudson worked closely with the CLC on this project and contributed matching funds to this award from its Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Hudson Valley Land Preservation Endowment.

“We are extremely pleased to have facilitated the sale of this important family farm to the Kukons, and to know that the farm will always be in farmer ownership. With the prices of land in the Hudson Valley increasing rapidly since the start of the pandemic, the importance of keeping protected farmland in production, available, and affordable for farmers has become ever more important.” says Marissa Codey, Director of Agricultural Programs.

“My brothers and I are grateful to the Columbia Land Conservancy, Scenic Hudson, the State of New York, and the Saulpaugh family for their collective help in allowing us to purchase this important farm so that we can secure and expand our business,” says John Kukon.

Saulpaugh Farm was ranked a highest priority for protection in Scenic Hudson’s Foodshed Conservation Plan, 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.

“By permanently conserving this productive land – and ensuring it will always be affordable to farmers – this transaction supports access to nutritious food, never more vital than right now. Scenic Hudson thanks Columbia Land Conservancy, the state Department of Agriculture & Markets and above all the Saulpaugh family for partnering with us to conserve it,” said Scenic Hudson senior vice-president, Steve Rosenberg.

CLC and Scenic Hudson submitted a successful application on behalf of the Saulpaugh family for a New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets Farmland Protection Implementation Grant (NYSDAM FPIG). The FPIG awards are made possible by New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund.

To learn more about CLC’s Farmland Access, Resources, and Matching program, visit clctrust.org/farm-program or email farm@clctrust.org.

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