322 ACRES CONSERVED IN EASTON
Sitting in the kitchen of Ed Slocum's family farmhouse on Route 40 in Easton, I asked Ed when his family moved there. He said, "Oh, I think it was about 1950 that we came here." I asked where they'd come from and he replied drily, pointing behind him, "Over on the mountain road." Remembering the farm his family used to own, Ed said, "They built a mansion up there. I decided I didn't need such stuff here."He's an Easton farmer through and through and so were his father and grandfather before him. Ed's family has been farming here as long as he can remember, and long before there was electricity.
His 321-acre farm backs up to Willard Mountain and overlooks the Hudson River. It contains a high percentage of prime agricultural soils and a woodlot that is managed for high-quality timber harvest. It is traversed by a tributary of Ensign Brook. Ed operated a small dairy up until 2004 when he decided he had to sell the cows. He said, "The milk hauler wanted me to put in a new driveway, the Agrimark field man wanted a new milk house and I needed a new barn. I couldn't do it all at once. It was hard to see the cows go."
Fortunately, Ed found a way to stay in farming. He now leases his fields to several neighboring farms, one of which he also works for. His land is used to raise feed and pasture heifers, and one of his three daughters keeps her horses there. He's kept all his machinery and admits that he sometimes thinks about building a new barn and getting started with a dairy again. He's an avid hunter and remembers that when he was growing up, you could walk all over the mountain without seeing a "No Trespassing" sign.
His love for the land and all it provides led him to protect it. His neighbor Sean Quinn, who operates Sunset View Farm and who served on ASA's board, talked to him about conserving. Quinn had purchased a piece of land across Route 40 that the Moy family had previously conserved. Because it was protected, Quinn was able to buy it at its agricultural value. He talked to Ed about how conservation makes good land more affordable for future farmers to buy.
While all three of Ed's daughters have degrees and careers related to agriculture, he's not sure if they will want to work the farm in Easton. But he wants to see it remain in agriculture. Ed worked with ASA to successfully apply for a grant from the New York State Farmland Protection Program. Additional funding from the Castanea Foundation and a generous donation from Ed made the conservation of his farm possible. With its protection, ASA has now helped farmers conserve a contiguous 1,500-acre block of high-quality farmland along the Route 40 corridor.