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.


Over 30 years ago, while reading the morning paper, Jene and Kitty Highstein saw an interesting property for sale, a house and 125-acres of mostly forested land located on Bogtown Road in Salem, NY. While a second home was not in their plans, a place just a few hours from New York City seemed like a perfect weekend get-away. It would also provide some much-needed serenity.

What they found on their first visit to the farm was an undisturbed beauty.  Recalling her first impressions of the property, Kitty said, “We fell in love with it from the moment we saw it. The bog is so beautiful and the animal habitat it creates was very important to us. We knew right then we wanted to preserve this special place.”

Each weekend, Kitty and Jene drove north to Salem to spend time making property improvements while maintaining the wildlife habitat that had caused them to fall in love with this property in the first place. Working outside became something they did together, and slowly, it felt more and more like home. They restored the house, cleared overgrown pastures for their sheep and horses, and spent time enjoying the peace, privacy, and silence they had been missing in the city.

In 1994, Kitty and Jene were able to purchase 38 adjacent acres to ensure that the bog would remain undisturbed forever. Those 38-acres were part of a property that was conserved in 1992 by Rich Carston, ASA’s first conservation project.

The Highsteins have owned the farm on Bogtown Road for 30 years. When sons Alex and Jesse were old enough to move out on their own, Kitty and Jene asked them where they felt at home. “The farm is home to us” was their immediate reply. With Jene’s passing just one year ago, Kitty, Alex and Jesse decided it was time to conserve the land that had given their family a home, allowed them to appreciate the beauty of the landscape around them and honored Gene’s love of the farm.

When we moved up here, we didn’t know a single soul and it has turned out to be such a wonderful community. We feel so lucky to have found this place. It has embraced us. Conserving the land is really important to our whole family and has been a goal of ours from the very beginning.” – Kitty Highstein

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