Dan Huntley’s family has worked the same land for 200 years. The iconic 720-acre farm, located in the town of Pierrepont, in St. Lawrence County, meets the foothills of the Adirondacks with sweeping views of the St. Lawrence Valley.
Now a certified organic dairy farm, the Huntley Farm is within the watershed and larger habitat area of the St. Lawrence River, only 30 miles away. As part of the farm’s income diversification, the Huntley’s run a bed and breakfast, sell firewood, and manage their woodland as a sugarbush and for sustained timber production.
Dillon, Dan’s son, is investing in soil improvements to increase soil health and productivity. He also grows local organic grain for his dairy and to sell to other farmers, and is working towards increasing his maple sugaring operation to over 5,000 taps.
The farm has now joined the ranks of a growing number of farmers who would prefer to conserve their land rather than face the prospect of it being sold for development.
“Many of the dairy farms in our region have gone out of business because the cost of running a dairy farm is outpacing the price of milk,” explains Dillon. “We needed a way to conserve the farm and lower our operating costs. Conserving it, and diversifying the operation, makes it easier for me to take over the farm.”
Conservation leverages change
Now, thanks to a recent NYS Farmland Protection Diary Program grant, written by THTLT on behalf of the family, the Huntley’s are working to conserve their land.
The grant program recognizes the importance of dairy farms to NYS’s economy and rural communities and the need to increase the long-term viability of these farms. The Huntley’s are able to invest in improvements that will enhance their farming operation.
Dillon and Dan will use the funding to upgrade their milking facility, as well as implement additional farm improvements for cow comfort and soil management.
“These enhancements will make our small, family-run farm, more sustainable—and we know that the 200 years our family has invested here is now more secure. It’s a great feeling to create a strong economic future as part of preserving our farm’s heritage,” explains Dillon.
One of many farms…
In addition to the Huntley farm, THTLT is working with three additional farms awarded grants by the NYS Farmland Protection Dairy Program: the Northrup & Sons Farm in Rodman and Adams, Jefferson County; the Groeslon Farm in Remsen, Oneida County; and the Jones Farm in Trenton, Oneida County. This adds to several other THTLT farmland conservation projects currently underway.
“These families are leaders in their own right; they care deeply for the land and want to make sure their farms remain part of their community,” explains Linda Garrett, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust’s Executive Director.
Jane Powers, Pierrepont Town Supervisor, notes that land trusts like Tug Hill Tomorrow are often pivotal in a farmer’s ability to apply for these grants, remarking, “It takes a lot of time to pull together the grant applications, let alone undertake the land protection work. We are delighted that the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust jumped on this opportunity on behalf of our town’s dairy farms.”
We need you more than ever
In the coming year, your support will be central to our ability to work with additional farmers. It’s important to understand that as a community-based land trust, we can’t conserve these lands without you.
Farmland protection work is often a two- to three-year process, and your donations allow us to help farmers tap into the state farmland protection grants and protect their lands.
Without these grants, it’s often difficult to transfer the land to the next generation. Thanks to you, these farms will be here for generations.