PUTNAM COUNTY’S AGRICULTURAL & FARMLAND PROTECTION BOARD RELEASES NEW “KEEP PUTNAM FARMING” REPORT

PUTNAM COUNTY’S AGRICULTURAL & FARMLAND PROTECTION BOARD
RELEASES NEW “KEEP PUTNAM FARMING” REPORT

Original Research Includes Current Data on Farmers, Farmland and Local Community
Access to Farm Products; Recommendations Identify Opportunities for a Vibrant and
Diverse Agricultural Sector in Putnam County

Cold Spring, New York – May 9, 2016 – Founded in 1997, the Putnam County Agricultural and
Farmland Protection Board advises the County Legislature on actions that impact farms located in
the County’s Agricultural District. As such, a need for updated, “real time” data on the current state
of Putnam County’s agricultural landscape was identified by the Board as a way to inform the
County and local municipalities on opportunities, challenges and strategies to cultivate and
embolden its food and farming sector. Following two years of convenings and surveys, the Board is
releasing this research in its new Keep Putnam Farming report.
Based on Glynwood’s Keep Farming protocol, a community-based research method used in areas
throughout the Hudson Valley and beyond, the Keep Putnam Farming process began in earnest in
April 2014 with a Farmer Forum, a gathering to inform local farmers about the program, provide
them an opportunity to meet one another, and offer a venue in which to share their concerns.
Farmers reported that, prior to this meeting they had never met as a group with one another.
Glynwood’s role as an advisor and participant continued throughout the survey, data-gathering
and reporting process.
“There is a renewed energy regarding farming and accessing locally grown fresh healthy food,”
said MaryEllen Odell, County Executive. “Through the Keep Putnam Farming program and the
new Tilly Foster Farm Educational Institute we expect to bring state of the art training
opportunities to our local farmers, residents, and students as well as showcase Putnam County
farm products.”
In May 2014, letters were sent to Town Supervisors announcing the official launch of the project in
Putnam County. After informing farmers and community members about Keep Putnam Farming,
the next step was to begin the data collection phase of the program. By gathering current data
using surveys and interviews we are then able to enhance knowledge of local farming and
improving market connections.
“Through the efforts to Keep Putnam Farming Initiative we have identified active farms in
Putnam County so that we can work on strengthening the economic viability of our farms by
enhancing the awareness of all our local agricultural products and services for all our residents,”
said Lauri Taylor, District Manager, Putnam County Soil & Water Conservation. “Through the
new Hudson Valley Farmlink Network we can work on matching new farmers with existing
agricultural land. Putnam County plans to be at the table for the farm to table experience – do
you?” Ms. Taylor provided technical and outreach assistance on the Keep Putnam Farming
process.

Research (Excerpts)
Thirty-eight farms participated in the Keep Putnam Farming research process. Data and insights
into current farming activities were gleaned from surveys that described existing conditions,
challenges and opportunities for farming in Putnam County. The findings have been used as the
basis for recommended actions, including:
● Formalize the Putnam County Farmers Network
● Training, education and technical assistance programs for farmers
● Solutions to existing needs for processing service in Putnam County
● Increase and diversify market opportunities for Putnam County farms
● Update the Putnam County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Program

Four different agricultural sectors were covered by the survey process: Food, Food and Equine,
Equine and Nursery, and a demographic profile of respondents is included. Extensive results are
provided in the full report, but some highlights include:

Local Farmers:
● Almost one-third of the farmers who responded indicated they have been in the County for
10 years or less. Most are farmers growing food products and looking to build their business
and take advantage of the increased demand for local products;
● 58% of respondents own 20 acres of working farmland or less;
● Several equine farmers report that they are diversifying their farm operations to include
other types of livestock, vegetable and fruit production;
● 50% of respondents indicated they provide agritourism activities on their farms;
● Importantly, 83% of respondents were over the age of 50 years, with 63% of these farmers
over the age of 60 – suggesting that farmland succession is a pressing issue for this group of
farmers. Over 40% of farmers also indicated that the types of assistance they had the
greatest interest in receiving relate to farmland preservation and succession planning.

Local Residents:
To better understand the degree to which local food is purchased and consumed in Putnam
County, surveys were conducted with Putnam residents and food service providers:
● 75% of respondents indicated they look to see where their food is grown when grocery
shopping. However, they most frequently shop at large supermarkets and only 11%
participate in CSA (Community Supported Agriculture.)

Institutions & Restaurants:
Seventy-two restaurant owners and chefs completed surveys at the annual Food Operators
Seminar conducted by the Putnam Board of Health in March 2015. These food businesses
represent a large potential market for local products.
● While only two of the restaurant owners indicated that their establishment has a policy for
purchasing local products, all indicated that they would like to purchase local food from
Putnam farms. The two items they are most interested in purchasing are vegetables and
eggs. They would also like greater access to local meat and poultry.
The full report is available online at putnamcountyny.com/keepputnamfarming.

About Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District:
Established in 1967, the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District provides technical
assistance and programs to residents, landowners and units of government on the conservation,
wise use, and development of soil, water, and related resources. The District is a resource
management agency, coordinating and implementing resource and environmental programs at the
local level in cooperation with federal and state agencies. For more information visit:
www.putnamcountyny.com/keepputnamgreen.

About Putnam County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board:
Putnam County’s Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board was formed in 1997 to advise the
County Legislature on actions that impact farms located in the Putnam County Agricultural
District and develop plans and programs to assist farmers throughout Putnam County. For more
information visit: www.putnamcountyny.com/keepputnamfarming.

About Glynwood:
Glynwood’s mission is to ensure the Hudson Valley is a region defined by food, where farming
thrives. The organization works to advance regenerative agriculture that benefits the natural
environment, energizes local economies, enhances human health and strengthens rural
communities. The agricultural nonprofit’s Keep Farming program is a community-based initiative
that engages a diverse set of stakeholders in gathering and analyzing data about the current state of
agriculture in order to better understand current conditions and challenges faced by local farmers.

CLICK HERE TO SEE REPORT

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Contact info:
Lauri Taylor
Putnam County Soil & Water Conservation
(845) 878-3480 ext. 48104
lauri.taylor@putnamcountyny.gov