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.
Mapledale & Sugar Bush Farms

Make it Work 

Plans May Change, But Conservation Easements are Forever

Long before the phrase “make it work” was about fashion, farmers were “making it work” by being adaptable and resilient. The Greene family has owned Mapledale Farm since 1853 and in those 166 years they’ve had to adapt to a lot. When William and Susannah Greene bought Mapledale farm in 1853, they began by raising cattle, sheep, poultry, swine and producing maple syrup. In the late 1800s, the Greene’s moved beyond subsistence farming and started shipping their fresh milk by railroad.  Their oxen were soon to be downsized.

Flash forward to 2010 and the 6th generation of Greenes were milking about 400 Holstein cows and diversified into cheesemaking. They also worked with ASA to conserve 50 acres along State Route 22. The farm kept expanding to keep up with a growing family and to improve profit margins. After all, a family business is still a business and one that now had to support multiple generations of several families.

In 2016, the Greenes approached ASA again. This time they wanted to protect another 87 acres of their own land AND an additional 263 acres owned by Craig Chittenden that the Greenes were renting. Craig retired from farming in 2012 and since then has focused on his dog agility business. The Greenes planned to purchase the rental land from Craig after it was conserved.

At the time, Craig was tapping about 300 maple trees at Sugar Bush Farm in Stephentown and leasing 120 acres of tillable land. “This is the perfect property for houses. Its beautiful back here,” Craig said, “Only I don’t want to see that happen. I’m in love with this property and have been since we purchased it in 1981.” 

By 2018, the economic challenges of dairy farming had taken their toll. Paul and John Greene notified Craig that they were no longer interested in purchasing the rental land since they were selling their milking herd. They planned to shift the business over to raising heifers for other farms and no longer needed Craig’s support land. Craig’s first thought was, “Well, this puts a monkey wrench into things.”

After a phone call to Chris Krahling at ASA revealed that the entire project would fall through if the Greenes pulled out, John Greene’s first thought was, “well, that puts a fly in the ointment.” At that point, it looked like neither family would be able to protect their land. “We each had our reasons for wanting to do this, and when you get down to it, none of those reasons had changed,” said Craig. So, the Greenes and Craig decided to proceed with conserving both properties. The joint project was completed in April of this year.

Because conservation easements are forever, they are designed to provide flexibility to allow farmers to be resilient. As Mapledale and Sugar Bush Farm continue to change and adapt, the land will be protected for future generations, forever. “Even though we’re doing different things, our family’s goal has always been to care for this land,” said Paul Greene.

"This is the perfect property for houses. It's beautiful back here. Only I don't want to see that happen." - Craig Chittenden

Funding for this project was provided by New York State Environmental Protection Fund administered by the Department of Agriculture and Markets through the Hudson Valley Agriculture Enhancement Program.

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