Agricultural Stewardship AssociationAgricultural Stewardship Association

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Conservation Stories

Since its inception in 1990, ASA has helped landowners protect a variety of working lands throughout Washington and Rensselaer counties.
Chapin Family Farm

Through Transition and Change, A Family Farm Legacy Continues

ASA Easement Provides Land Security for Generations to come

FOR OVER HALF A CENTURY, Ray and Sharon Chapin lived by the rhythms of their dairy operation in Hartford. No question, the work was hard but there was plenty of joy and satisfaction to be had from being able to support their family off the 320 acres they called home. That joy was compounded in 2007 when their son Jeff took over the operation, purchasing the herd and renting the milking parlor and barns from his parents. Recogniz­ing that what worked for the past 50 years wouldn’t sustain the farm for the next 50, Jeff began diversifying to ensure the financial stability of the family operation.

A new generation eyes new opportunities

When Jeff assumed the reins of the farm, the bulk of the milk produced was sold to St. Albans Co-Op. Around the same time, he began growing crops for off-farm sales. Today, the farm sells excess haylage and corn silage to other cow and sheep dairy operations and horse farms.

In another step towards diversification, Jeff began selling milk to Dancing Ewe Farm in 2019. A sheep dairy based in Granville, Dancing Ewe Farm needed an additional 1200 lbs. of milk to supplement its own milk for cheese production. Jeff was more than happy to comply and shortly thereafter added Nettle Meadow Farm, another cheese producer in Thurman, to his list of milk customers.

New ideas yield new rewards and a secure future

Thanks to Jeff’s efforts to diversify the family operation and Ray and Sharon’s desire to transfer the farmland to the next genera­tion, the farm received a Dairy Transitions grant from New York State in 2019.

According to Executive Director, Renee Bouplon, there is a long list of reasons why the Chapin Farm was ripe for a conservation project.

“When it comes to approving a property for conservation,” says Bouplon, “there are a lot of factors to be considered. In the case of the Chapin Family Farm, not only was there the opportunity to help keep the operation running as a true family business, but its conservation would enhance a substantial swath of protected farmland thanks to its adjacency to 624 acres of Simply Grazin’, a grass-fed beef and hog operation conserved in 2018 and 2020. In addition, the Winchell Creek flows through the Chapin property. By conserving the farm, we’re also able to protect this important natural resource. Those reasons make the Chapin Family Farm a very welcome addition to the ASA list of conserved properties.”

Two other individuals who welcomed the relationship is the couple who started it all: Ray and Sharon Chapin. “We worked very hard for many years,” says Ray. “Knowing our land will be forever farmland is the best reward.”

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