Agricultural Stewardship AssociationAgricultural Stewardship Association

Field Notes Blog


30 years, 24,000 acres, 1 goal
May 01, 2020
30 years, 24,000 acres, 1 goal

If ever there was textbook definition of a grassroots organization, ASA is it.

Started by a handful of farmers and conservationists with a shared goal of protecting the grazing and farming lands in the region from the mounting pressures for development, ASA took shape and operated for the first 13 years solely on the donated time and energy of these visionaries. Through their tireless efforts and outreach, they managed to conserve 3,300 acres on 30 properties in Washington County.  

Buoyed by their success and painfully aware that their growing conservation efforts required full-time, professional focus, the founders made the organization’s first paid hire: me.

While I was excited for the opportunity, I had no real appreciation for the immense community interest and support for the organization’s mission.

Without question, the enormous interest by landowners to conserve their land combined with the generous support of major donors were, and continue to be, instrumental to our success. In addition, funding from New York State to the tune of $24.7 million has helped to expand our reach and raise awareness for the important work we do. 

Today, ASA’s portfolio includes 143 protected properties and over 24,000 acres of conserved farms and forests throughout Rensselaer and Washington counties. We are incredibly proud to be one of just 443 accredited land trusts in the country upholding strong standards and a commitment to permanence (FYI, the total number of land trusts exceeds 1,600).

Lest you think I did this all on my own, that is far from the case. In addition to our ever-loyal supporters, ASA is now staffed with 6 professionals and countless volunteers who are committed to preserving and protecting the beauty and vitality of the land around us and ensuring those who tend it are provided the opportunity and means to keep doing so in the future. In addition to forging relationships with landowners, our team working diligently to connect and communicate with community members who may never even heard of land conservation. Through educational events and outreach efforts, we’re raising awareness of the growing importance of preserving farm and forest lands.

And while we’re 30-years deep into our mission, the road ahead of us is long and, in some ways, steeper than ever before. The challenges are both familiar — such as the push for development — and new — the changing climate.  But no matter what we’re facing, our goal is clear:

protecting our community’s working farms and forest, connecting people to the land, and promoting a vibrant future for agriculture and forestry in our region.

We’re grateful for the vision that gave shape to ASA and for the generosity of all who trust the work we do. We hope that you will continue lend support in any form to ensure that, like the land we conserve, ASA’s mission remains vibrant and valued forever.