Agricultural Stewardship AssociationAgricultural Stewardship Association

Your Impact

Conservation Stories

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


Donating a conservation easement to maintain a legacy 

Mary Ellen and Norm Williams bought Hawk View Farm (in Greenwich, NY) from Willard Reid in 1977. From the top of the hill behind the house to the West is a panoramic view of the Adirondacks. There is an equally splendid view of the Green Mountains to the East. Willard told the Williams that once, while plowing his fields with a team of horses, he had been able to count 49 other plow teams from the top of that hill.

The Williams are only the third family to live on the farm. When they bought the house, there was no one living there except wild critters. The house had a foot of water in the basement, early Edison lighting and no insulation. The main draw was the fact that the house and barns had not been modernized. 

From whatever angle one views the farm, it's difficult to tell that you have not been transported back to 1840. The Williams restored the house and barns with meticulous attention to detail and 19th Century building techniques.

The original owners, the Dobbins family, started the farm with only 35 acres. They didn't even own a horse. An additional 130 acres was purchased in 1835. The house and a bigger barn were built and the family prospered. The farm was planted in flax and potatoes with the usual small dairy, pigs, and sheep.

The second family to own the farm, William and Janette McArthur Hutchens, bought the farm in 1873, passing it on to a son, William "Herb" Hutchens. Herb's best friend, Willard Reid, purchased the farm as a tenant farm to support his growing dairy herd. Willard always said that he lived on nearby Christie Road but he made his milk money off the Hutchens Farm. He had a great appreciation for the quality of the soils on this hilly farm.

Norm and Mary Ellen raised a commercial herd of beef cows and registered Percheron horses, all of whose names begin with the "Hawk" prefix. Today, about 70 acres of open fields are leased to a neighboring dairy farm for hay and there is one old Percheron mare left. A herd of rodeo horses spend their summer vacation in the back pastures with fabulous views of Vermont. Actually, the horses have the best views on the whole farm. It is unusual, as was certainly the case in the 1800's, to drive by the farm without seeing a red tailed hawk floating on an updraft over the fields.

A granite bench was built at the top of the hill with a view towards Vermont shortly before Norm died in 2002. Although Mary Ellen travels extensively, she always looks forward to her return and walking to the top of the hill to sit on Norm's bench. It is a lasting satisfaction to her to know that, while not many things last forever, those beautiful views will forever remain as a working landscape in support of our agricultural economy.

"It took Willard Reid nine months to decide to sell the farm to us. Much later we found out the reason why he took so long was because he wanted to make sure we were not going to subdivide. I am so happy to make this donation and keep our 'no subdivision' promise." – Mary Ellen Williams

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