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Tuff-a-Nuff Farm Finds a New Home Through Catskills FarmLink - Landowner and Farmer Connect Through Free Online Resource
By Tara Collins
7/31/12 - 1:03 pm
7/31/12 - 1:03 pm
Catskills FarmLink, a collaboration of Catskills organizations committed to the future of agriculture in the region, today announced a successful landowner-farmer match resulting from a free online land listing on www.catskillsfarmlink.org. A previously idle 500-plus acre Bovina farm listed by Andrew Ebenstein is now being leased by June Wright of Tuff-a-Nuff Farm and her family.
For several years Ms. Wright has been building a small herd of heifers while looking for the right opportunity to rent a farm at which she could begin living her life-long dream of starting a small dairy. She also raises sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and horses, and is interested in bringing a few beef cattle to the land.
“We expect to be milking within a year,” she said. “The barn is in great shape but there is work to be done. We will have to check milk lines and get the gutters moving. Since we arrived we’ve been focused on fencing issues and are really still just moving in.”
Named after their first cow, Tuff-a-Nuff Farm is becoming a reality. However, beginning farmers throughout the country face steep challenges. Ms. Wright and her family are leasing the farm and related agricultural property as well as a three-bedroom house, as part of a five-year lease. The first year is a trial year. During the first 12 months either party may terminate the agreement.
“There is serious excitement in the air at Tuff-a-Nuff Farm, but June is not a stranger to farming and recognizes the overwhelming realities of more space, new surroundings and more chores,” said Sonia Janiszewski, Catskills FarmLink coordinator. “Our partner organizations are here to provide support and resources to the farm as it sets it roots on this new land. We’ve talked about what June envisions for next steps and how the partners may be able to help. The first step will be connecting with Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Farm Catskills will be keeping an eye out for funding opportunities that could be used for on-farm improvements.”
Ms. Wright’s son-in-law found the property listing on Catskills FarmLink through an Internet search. As the listing reads, “The property has been an active dairy farm for over a century, and we are looking for a responsible individual or family who is willing and able to carry on that tradition.” After a few conversations with Ms. Wright, Mr. Ebenstein felt he’d found the right farm tenant.
“June has two grown daughters and they all have farming experience. She has been slowly building a herd by raising calves, and has about a dozen or more at present,” he said. “She also has a variety of other animals - horses, goats and chickens. She outgrew her location and needed a real farm if she is to continue to grow. She and her daughters have other employment (one on a dairy and the other on a horse farm), and so their small operation isn’t the basis for their survival.”
Catskills FarmLink serves beginning farmers looking to transition to independent farm management, existing farmers looking to acquire or access more land, like Ms. Wright, and landowners interested in making property available for agricultural use, like Mr. Ebenstein.
The need for this service is affirmed by project partner and Watershed Agricultural Council’s Executive Director, Craig Cashman, “Farming and working landscapes in the watershed is our preferred land use. Everyone in the watershed wins when land either stays in production or can be placed back into production. It is wonderful for the regional economy and sustains the culture of our region.”
The site compiles user-submitted properties and offers a range of resources related to land access. Online resources include statewide and regional contacts that support the farming community; land lease planning and landowner guides; opportunities like educational workshops, networking events, classifieds, internships, job offerings, equipment and livestock sales, and distribution partnership/sharing.
Site users submit listings on www.catskillsfarmlink.org at no charge. Classified categories include equipment, hay and feed, land seekers, livestock and agricultural services.
Visit www.catskillsfarmlink.org to explore land listings and classifieds or submit your own, and to learn more about farming and land access in the region.
Catskills FarmLink is a collaborative effort of regional organizations committed to the future of agriculture in the region. These organizations include Catskill Mountainkeeper; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware, Schoharie and Sullivan Counties; Delaware Highlands Conservancy; Farm Catskills; Farmhearts; NYC Department of Environmental Protection; and the Watershed Agricultural Council.
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