Times Union / Drive started to preserve Denison Farm

By KENNETH C. CROWE II, Staff writer (Times Union)

SCHAGHTICOKE — When Gov. Andrew Cuomo sits down to eat at the executive mansion, the fresh vegetables and fruits he’s consuming come from the Denison Farm, site of the Capital Region’s first Community Supported Agriculture program.

Cuomo is among the 510 members of the 164-acre farm’s CSA program that delivers fresh food each week for 22 weeks to members who buy shares annually.

Keeping the farm in production and safe from development is a project that the Agricultural Stewardship Association and farmers Justine and Brian Denison need to raise $15,000 to complete.

“I’m thankful that the Denison Farm is going to stay here for the rest of our farming lives,” Justine Denison said Tuesday.

Brian Denison said the preservation of the farm will allow it to be farmed by future generations.

The farm became the Capital Region’s first CSA operation in 1988. This provided community backing, ensuring that residents could support local agriculture and obtain their food near where they live.

Farmland preservation funds have shriveled as the recession struck hard.

ASA Executive Director Teri Ptacek said that to purchase the development rights for the Denison Farm, her organization, which is based in Cambridge, Washington County, has used a variety of funding sources to raise the $173,328 needed.

The Denisons donated $20,165; there was a federal grant for $67,218; a Castanea Foundation grant of $35,000; other public funding of $15,000; and a Pew Charitable Trust grant of $8,000.

That left $28,945 left to raise. The CSA members donated nearly $14,000, leaving $15,000 to be obtained. Now ASA is asking the public to contribute.

“I used to say this job was about protecting farmland. It’s about protecting communities,” Ptacek said.

Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino said protecting the Denison Farm supports a key element of the county’s economy. She said it also protects the area from development pressures emerging from the construction of the Global Foundries computer chip factory across the Hudson River in Saratoga County.

“It’s very easy to protect our farms. It’s the right thing to do,” said Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin, R-Schaghticoke.

The assemblyman reminded everyone at the Denison Farm on Buttermilk Falls Road that the pressures for farmers to sell out will mount as theGlobalFoundries site expands and more people work there.

Donations may be mailed to the Agricultural Stewardship Association, 14 Main St., Suite 100, Greenwich, NY 12834 or may made be by visiting the ASA website at http://www.agstewardship.org.

For additional information, contact the ASA by telephone at 692-7285 or by email at asa@agstewardship.org.

Reach Kenneth C. Crowe II at 454-5084 or kcrowe@timesunion.com.

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