158 ACRES CONSERVED IN TOWN OF EASTON
Conservation Helps Secure Critical Support Land for Local Dairy
Since 1995, Hugh and Cassie Fedler have run a 200-head dairy operation off Route 372 in Cambridge. They milk 100 cows and sell to Agri-Mark. For a long time, they relied on rented land to support their dairy, including a 156-acre piece of land along the Battenkill in Easton, just outside the Village of Greenwich, which provided critical acreage for raising corn and hay and pastureland for the heifers.
When the opportunity to purchase the land arose in 2010, the Fedlers decided to take a risk and buy it. Its purchase represented the first time that the farm operation had owned its own support land instead of relying on rental lands. Since acquiring it, the Fedlers have invested significant time and money to improve the land by installing tiling and new fences to accommodate the rotational pasturing of the heifers, and they continue to convert overgrown areas back to productive agricultural fields.
ASA successfully applied on behalf of the Fedlers for funding from the Federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program to conserve the property. Additional funds from Castanea Foundation and several private donors, including the Jeffrey Gaess Memorial Fund, provided a match for the grant. Cassie explains, "Selling our development rights has helped us secure this high-quality piece of farmland necessary for our dairy operation. As farmers, we know the value of good land and are glad it will be available to farmers for generations to come."
Both Cassie and Hugh are very active in the local and agricultural communities. Cassie sits on the Cambridge Town Board and the Washington County Fair Board. She also serves as a voting representative for Agri-Mark. Hugh is involved in the Farm Cadet Program with John Bowne High School in Flushing, New York. Started during World War I, the Farm Cadet Program works with the New York Department of Labor to place high school students interested in agriculture with active farming operations throughout New York State. Cassie and Hugh have graciously hosted a number of students at their farm and find the experience rewarding. The Fedlers' two grown children, Becca and Tim, help at the dairy and are interested in continuing the family's farming tradition.