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North Country Creamery in Keeseville, N.Y., has received $1,500 to design a new hay barn to hold solar panels for on-farm electricity. It’s one of 21 projects funded by the Adirondack Council’s annual micro-grant program, with the goal of reducing environmental impacts and building climate-friendly local economy in upstate New York’s 6 million-acre Adirondack Park.

Dylan Klepetar doesn’t expect to change the world, but the $1,500 micro-grant he received could make a world of difference.

His Echo Farm, overlooking the western shore of Lake Champlain, will use the money to buy equipment to deliver biodiesel to local farms.

He’s one of 21 recipients who obtained funding, totaling over $29,000, which the Adirondack Council awarded to help farmers and small businesses reduce their environmental impact and build a climate-friendly local economy in upstate New York’s 6 million-acre Adirondack Park.

“In general, farmers are very ingenious with the solutions they come up with,” Klepetar said. “They’re problem solvers by nature. A $1,500 grant in the hands of a farmer can go a long way.”

Echo Farm, a diverse operation with a variety of crops and livestock, has obtained funding twice before from the council’s grant program, now in its sixth year.

“We’ve gotten prior grants for renewable energy generation for our farm,” Klepetar said. “We used one to create an off-grid farm store, which is operational now. So we have a solar-powered farm store. The biodiesel project is purely in the spirit of environmentalism and helping other farmers achieve fuel sovereignty, so this grant program is really impactful.”

The council has now awarded almost $159,000 to 88 projects over the past half-dozen years to preserve natural resources, enhance environmentally beneficial farming practices, produce healthy local food and reduce energy use.

Farmers Play a Critical Role in Keeping Region Climate Friendly

This year, the council received 42 applications seeking a total of $73,000. Council staff and Essex Farm Institute committee members were assisted by Adam Dewbury, local food system director at Adirondack North Country Association, in its application review and evaluation process.

Awarded projects run the gamut from composting units for local food waste recycling to cover cropping and energy-efficient equipment.

“The Adirondack Park’s clean water, clean air, wildlife, wilderness and communities are threatened by climate change,” said William C. Janeway, council executive director. “We want to help farmers throughout the Adirondack region to be climate friendly, energy efficient and more sustainable. Investing in our local food system now can bring benefits for years to come.”

Most grant money comes from the Klipper Family Fund.

“Local farmers know what needs to be done, but too many lack the funding to do it,” said Courtney Klipper, the fund’s co-founder. “We are pleased to see the renewed interest in farming by so many young families. We want to support that trend.”

Fund co-founder Nathaniel Klipper said, “Healthy farms are already playing an important role in limiting climate disruption in the Adirondack Park. They absorb and sequester carbon dioxide, reduce the impacts of storm-driven flooding and help us to avoid burning fossil fuels to get the food and farm products we need.”

The vast Adirondack Park, bigger than five of the largest U.S. national parks combined, stretches east to west from Lake Champlain to northcentral New York, and north to south from the Mohawk Valley to points near the Canadian border.

Jack Drury, of Mark Twain Mapleworks in Saranac Lake, said he wouldn’t have been able to undertake an erosion control project at his 10-acre sugarbush without funding from the council.

“A road that goes through my sugarbush is on the side of Dewey Mountain, which makes for a great sugarbush because everything runs downhill,” he said. “But in terms of getting around in it, it’s quite challenging. I put in a road a number of years ago and there’s a real bad spot where there’s a continuing problem of water coming down. This grant is going to pay for at least one, maybe two culverts and putting down road fabric and crushed stone on top of that.”

“It’s going to improve the runoff significantly,” Drury said. “That’s my hope.”

Without the grant, Drury said he couldn’t afford such work with revenue from his small maple sugaring operation. The only option would be putting chains on his tractor to go uphill, and make a bad situation worse by churning up mud.

“I thought this might be a great opportunity to do the road properly, so I applied and was very pleased to get approved,” he said. “It allows me to do things that I think are good for the environment and my business by implementing a forest management plan. I’m culling a lot of wood out of there, so I go up and down this road numerous times. This was an opportunity to take a leap forward and consider the environment more than we might have otherwise.”

Klepetar said the council’s relatively easy, one-page grant application is an added bonus.

“I can do a USDA grant and I’ve got to hire someone three days a week for six months to get it done,” he said. “The council puts out a one-pager. That helps tremendously because even if I don’t get a grant, I didn’t spend a lot of time doing it, which is good because that’s a farmer’s most valuable resource — their time.”

Adirondack Council Grant Recipients

  • Adirondack Naturals, Saranac Lake: $1,500 to erect a greenhouse with windmill and solar generator.
  • Ausable Brewing Co., Keeseville: $1,500 to replace uninsulated fermenting vessels with insulated fermenting vessels to conserve energy.
  • Berube Botanicals, Vermontville: $1,500 to erect a farm stand to sell locally grown organic produce.
  • Blackberry Hill Farm, Athol: $1,500 to purchase portable solar powered fencing for rotational grazing.
  • Blue Line Compost LLC, Saranac Lake: $1,500 to purchase materials for bagging locally sourced compost to sell.
  • Cook Family Enterprises LLC, Owls Head: $1,500 to build a containment area for composting manure.
  • Cornell Uihlein Maple Forest, Lake Placid: $1,500 to purchase a thermostat control for the vacuum pump, a battery-powered chainsaw and small reverse osmosis equipment.
  • Craigardan, Keene: $998 for the remediation of heavily logged lands with cover crops for pasture creation and pollinator forage.
  • Essex Farm, Essex: $1,500 to render animal fat into biodiesel to be used on-farm.
  • Forever Wild Farm, Lake Placid: $1,500 to purchase organic compost and new compost units.
  • Four Leaf Clover Bee Farm, Ellenburg Center: $650 for organic mite treatment for bee colonies.
  • Full and By Farm, Essex: $1,500 to purchase an electric-assist cargo-bike for on and off farm transportation.
  • Harris Family Farm, Westport: $1,500 for a draft horse drawn potato harvester and work harness for new draft horse.
  • Hub on the Hill, Essex: $1,500 for a free air pump and educational materials.
  • Mad Crazy Flowers, Elizabethtown: $1,500 to purchase solar heating equipment for a solar powered dehydrator.
  • Norman Ridge Farmstead, Vermontville: $1,500 for local hardy grass and legume cover crops.
  • North Country Creamery, Keeseville: $1,500 to design a new hay barn to hold solar panels for on-farm electricity.
  • The Workshop in V-ville LLC, Redford: $1,500 to build a high flow composter and improve composter housing unit.
  • Twin Hill Farms LLC, Vermonville: $1,500 for the conversion of a heated basement to a growing room.

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