A BASIC DEFINITION of stewardship is taking care of something. For ASA the most obvious way we steward land is by partnering with farmers and landowners to protect working farmland and forests from incompatible development over the long term. Our staff assists landowners in crafting agreements that will meet their goals, and we visit the properties regularly to ensure the terms of the agreements are being upheld in perpetuity.
But, we also take a broader view of our stewardship responsibilities. Once land is protected, we strive to serve as a resource for farmers and landowners. We also want to provide opportunities for others to develop a connection to the land. Here are some of the ways we extend our stewardship ethic:
PARTICIPATION IN THE REGIONAL NAVIGATOR PROGRAM
For several years ASA has participated in the Regional Navigator program which is administered by the American Farmland Trust and funded by NYS Department of Agriculture
and Markets. We are one of many navigators working across NYS to help new farmers access
farmland and connect to resources needed to build a successful farm business. The program
also assists older generations of farmers who may benefit from estate planning or help in attracting the next generation of farmers to their farm operation. On the New York Farmland Finder website, farm seekers can post their profile of what kind of farm they are looking for, and landowners can post information on land that is available for sale, lease or management. Check it out at www.nyfarmlandfinder.org.
ASA offers programming with different audiences in mind. Some aim to help bring new information to farmers and non-farming landowners, while others connect children and
families with farms and forests to foster an appreciation for these working lands. Partnering
with community youth programs, ASA can assist in bringing children to farms so they can see
first-hand where and how their food is produced. ASA administered a grant which allowed
three local farmers to experiment with interseeding cover crops into silage corn and measure the benefits in terms of soil health. For ten years ASA has organized four levels of chainsaw safety training known as the Game of Logging which has benefitted over 100 participants.
All these efforts support our stewardship ethic which aims to protect farm and forest
lands while supporting farm operations and building a connection to the land by the next
generation of stewards.