The Desormeaux’s farm isn’t just rolling meadows with cows, vast fields that turn golden in the fall, and picturesque barns. It’s also a demonstration of the love of community built on tradition as a force for the future.
In 1953, Albert Desormeaux bought a farm in the town of Gouverneur from a neighbor who had no heirs, beginning his own life’s venture. Together, he and his wife, Theresa, embarked on a path that would shape the land, their family, and their community.
Stepping into their kitchen you’ll find more than memorabilia. Displayed is a tangible connection to a life fully lived, dedicated to the land and the legacy of farming. “We are incredibly lucky to have purchased the farm when we did, as purchasing farmland becomes increasingly difficult. People now don’t always get this opportunity that my family has,” mused Albert.
That was a big reason why ten years ago, Albert and Theresa decided to conserve their farm. “We wanted to make sure that our kids could inherit this farm and not have it be sold for development,” explained Albert. “We are glad we did. The conservation agreement is farm-friendly. To evolve and thrive, we can do what we need to do as a farm business.”
The farm is home to 200 cattle and grows corn, soybeans, and hay silage alongside pasturelands and woodlands. A small brook meandering through the property provides habitat for migrating songbirds. The family has worked steadily to enhance soil health and water management as part of their long-term sustainability strategy.
Albert, together with his son, manages their woodlot carefully for sustained timber harvest. In 2009, to help reduce energy costs, they installed solar panels on their farm buildings, generating enough power to run the whole farm.
Conserving their farm is an extension of a long list of leadership roles the Desormeaux family has taken over the years.
As a community leader, Albert served as a director on the board of the Agri-Mark Coop, the farmer-run milk processing plant, and then Cabot Creamery Cooperative after the two merged in 1992.
During his time in the cooperative, Cabot featured Albert’s portrait on its cheese packaging and trucks in recognition of his farm’s production of quality milk and Albert’s dedication to supporting family farms. A true honor for Albert and his family.
“We thought a lot about whether to conserve our farm. We decided it was the right thing to do as the conservation agreement will help ensure that our farm’s legacy can continue on,” explained Albert.
Farmland protection projects like the Desormeaux’s often take years to accomplish. Sometimes it’s through the Army Compatible Use Program (ACUB) in partnership with our land trust and Ducks Unlimited.
Other times farmers apply to the NYS Farmland Protection Program with the assistance of the land trust. After a competitive review process by the Department of Agriculture and Markets, those farms that are selected then work in partnership with our land trust to conserve their farm.
Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust is now working with ten additional farm families to achieve their conservation goals. We are working to identify ways to expedite the farmland protection process. With farmland increasingly at risk, these farm families are not only cultivating crops and raising cattle; they’re protecting the region’s farming future.