164 ACRES CONSERVED IN HOOSICK
Chuck and Diane Phippen originally came from a suburban community in the Hartford, Connecticut area. They shared an interest in agriculture and Chuck found a job with a local farmer milking once a week. He often brought his children along and remembers it as a "big adventure" that got them started on the road to becoming dairy farmers. They bought a farm in Central New York, but their goal was to raise grass-fed cows and conditions there weren't quite right.
The Phippens find their Shangri-La
They were looking for a farm with ample pasture, a free stall barn with a milking parlor, and a house big enough to accommodate their 12 children. They'd never heard of Hoosick, but after seeing the farm once they knew it was perfect. When their old farm sold quickly, enabling them to make an offer, Chuck said, "It felt like fate brought us here".
It's a beautiful piece of land in a valley that inspires awe. Originally part of a land grant awarded to the Breese family by van Rensselaer, the farm has been in production for generations and has supported a variety of agricultural endeavors. According to Chuck, a recent article in the Bennington Banner described the valley as a local "Shangri-La". With its verdant rolling hills dotted with Jersey cows, it's easy to see why customers love coming to purchase licensed raw milk, grass-fed beef and chicken at this "earthly paradise".
Good stewardship an important part of their farming strategy
Breese Hollow Dairy was certified organic seven years ago. In addition to selling at the farm, the Phippens sell through the Organic Valley cooperative and Hawthorne Valley. David explains that raising grass-fed cows has its advantages. "We don't need to rely on machinery as much, aren't as affected by oil prices and typically get more for our product. There's no one way to do dairy farming, but for our situation, being grass-fed and organic works well." Diane says their customers include local residents as well as people who are willing to drive a bit for the opportunity to see where their food is raised.
Being good stewards of their land is important to the Phippens. Several neighboring farmers had previously conserved their lands. After meeting with ASA to discuss the details, the Phippens were inspired to do the same. The project was awarded a grant from the federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program, and ASA secured additional funding from Castanea Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, Rensselaer County and the Whipstock Hill Preservation Society to complete the farm's conservation. Including the Phippens' 165-acres, ASA has now helped farmers protect 1,703 acres within one mile of Breese Hollow Dairy and taken a significant step towards ensuring agricultural viability in the region.
Phippens use funding to reinvest in their operation
The Phippens are using the funds from the sale of their development rights to purchase an adjacent piece of support land and are installing solar panels to provide electricity for the farm. While their children have all been involved with the farm, Chuck and Diane don't know ultimately whether any will choose to follow in their footsteps. But knowing their land will continue to be open and available for agriculture is satisfying for the Phippens. Diane said, "It's so beautiful here, I'm really glad this land is protected."