Thirty farms from Long Island to Niagara County have been awarded grants up to $50,000 under the latest round of New York State’s Beginning Farmers Fund Program.
Established in 2014, the initiative has now awarded $4.2 million to 114 farms for a wide variety of projects such as new barn construction, and equipment and rootstock purchases.
In Delaware County, Eleanor Blakeslee-Drain and Patrick Hennebery have received $16,500 to construct a greenhouse and expand cold storage for their certified organic Berry Brook Farm, which raises vegetables.
Officials including state Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Jen Metzger gathered there July 12 to mark the occasion and outline legislation passed this year to help early-stage farmers overcome challenging obstacles.
“It isn’t easy to begin as a new farmer and with programs like the Beginning Farmer Grant Program, we can help support our next generation of agricultural stewards who are helping rejuvenate our rural communities and meet the increasing demand for local products,” Metzger said. “It’s exciting to see so many young people committed to pursuing farming careers, as well as such a strong interest in using innovative sustainable practices.”
During the recently concluded legislative session, Metzger sponsored bills to expand eligibility for the Beginning Farmers Fund (S.5716) and the Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program (S.5715) and (S.3837), which creates an apprentice program through the Board of Cooperative Educational Services to help next-generation farmers learn and develop skills.
Leaders of other agencies such Greater Catskills Chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition and the Watershed Agricultural Council were also on hand.
The council’s Easement and Economic Viability programs allowed Blakeslee-Drain and Hennebery to purchase the Berry Brook Farm property from previous owners, whose family had it for several generations starting as a dairy farm more than 100 years ago.
Samantha Levy, American Farmland Trust New York policy manager, said the Beginning Farmers Fund complements other state programs vital to farmland preservation.
For example, the Farmland for a New Generation program helps prospective farmers identify and secure the land they need to get started. Once under way, the Beginning Farmers Fund provides money to help people be successful and continue to grow their businesses.
“New York is moving closer to having a comprehensive, holistic way to find and manage land and set up farm businesses that are viable,” Levy said.
In related action, New York state reached a significant milestone recently with the conservation of 700 acres at Brock Acres Farm, a sixth-generation grain farm in Canandaigua, in the Finger Lakes region. With this effort, the state’s Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program has now preserved more than 75,000 acres across New York.
The state Agriculture Department awarded $1.86 million for the perpetual easement at Brock Acres Farm, bringing total protected farmland in the town of Canandaigua to more than 2,000 acres, ensuring such land will be protected from future development and used only for agriculture.
The Beginning Farmers Fund is administered by Empire State Development, the economic development branch of state government, in consultation with the state Agriculture Department. Applications are scored based on specific criteria such as demonstrating how proposals would expand or diversify agricultural production.
The fund provides grants of up to $50,000 to assist with up to 50% of eligible project costs, with the remaining 50% matched by recipients.
Following is a complete list of grant recipients by region:
• Tiny Hearts Farm, Columbia County — $28,567. Purchase field equipment and supplies to increase acreage in flower production.
• David and Kelly Lendrum, Albany County — $21,300. Purchase equipment to expand hay production.
• Battenkill Valley Farms, Washington County — $20,525. Purchase equipment to diversify crop production.
• Common Hands Farm LLC, Columbia County — $16,288. Purchase field equipment to increase crop yields.
• On the Farm, Columbia County — $15,750. Construct a barn to expand hay making capacity.
Central New York
• Elly’s Acres Farm LLC, Onondaga County — $50,000. Purchase equipment to expand sheep farming operation.
• Sunswick Farm, Cayuga County — $50,000. Construct a structure to increase honey production.
• Cayuga View Farm, Cayuga County — $25,500. Build a barn to increase the quality and quantity of hay production.
• Shared Roots Farm LLC, Cortland County — $20,778. Purchase equipment to expand cold storage and vegetable farm operations.
• Flowerwell LLC, Monroe County — $50,000. Construct a new processing building to expand production.
• Fire Creek Farms, Livingston County — $50,000. Build a barn and purchase equipment to expand hay production.
• Preston’s Farms, Orleans County — $50,000. Purchase field equipment, trees and supplies to expand production acreage.
• Strickland Farms, Wayne County — $50,000. Construct a barn to protect equipment and store apples.
• Robinson Family Farms LLC, Wayne County — $49,990. Purchase rootstock, tools and equipment to establish a farm nursery and expand operations.
• Bonnie Castle Farms LLC, Wayne County — $36,267. Purchase field equipment to improve fruit production.
• William and Emily Smith, Wayne County — $33,810. Construct a livestock barn to more efficiently house animals and manage manure.
• Valley View Devons, Livingston County — $28,651. Purchase equipment and add portable storage facilities to store hay and improve livestock feed quality.
• Stein Seafoods LLC, Suffolk County — $38,710. Purchase equipment to increase oyster farm production and operational efficiency.
• Rose Hill Farm, 1798, Dutchess County — $21,912. Plant apple trees and install a trellis system to diversify available fruit for cider production.
• Grape Hollow Farm, Dutchess County — $21,356. Extend infrastructure to greenhouses and orchard to increase production capacity.
• Long Season Farm, Ulster County — $17,136. Purchase equipment to increase production and extend the agricultural season.
• Lovin’ Mama Farm, Montgomery County — $22,560. Purchase greenhouses, equipment and supplies to expand production and extend the agricultural season.
• Windy Hill Goat Dairy, Otsego County — $21,355. Buy equipment to produce higher-quality livestock forage.
• Michael B’s Honey Co., Oneida County — $19,230. Purchase equipment to facilitate honey processing.
• North Country Creamery LLC, Essex County — $50,000. Purchase processing equipment to produce value-added products.
• Cupola Ridge Farms LLC, Tioga County — $49,150. Build a barn for livestock and hay storage, and purchase equipment.
• Berry Brook Farm LLC, Delaware County — $16,500. Construct a greenhouse and increase cold storage to expand production.
Western New York
• McCollum Orchards LLC, Niagara County — $29,411. Build a greenhouse, renovate a wash/pack station, and purchase equipment and supplies to expand production.
• Meyer’s Homegrown LLC, Erie County — $27,802. Purchase equipment to expand production.
For more information, visit bit.ly/FarmerGrant.