Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced $4.9 million has been awarded to help farmers protect 2,843 acres of at-risk farmland in Upstate New York, preserving the land for agricultural purposes and protecting it from development. These grants will help the Western New York Land Conservancy protect two farms — D&J Brawdy Farms and Triple Oak Farms — both located in the Town of Eden.
While Eden is a small, rural, agricultural community, Triple Oak Farms and D&J Brawdy Farms face development pressure that threatens many farms in Erie County. This is something that worried the Brawdy and the Kappus families every day. “We can see a housing subdivision from our office window,” said Dennis Brawdy. “We are relieved that this land, which has been farmed since the 1800s, will always available to meet the agricultural needs of our community.”
D&J Brawdy Farms has been owned and operated by Dennis and Joanne Brawdy for the last 18 years. They mostly grow vegetables on their 149 acres, but they also have 13 greenhouses that produce flowers and potted herbs. What began as a small operation in 1999 has grown into a large and successful business. The Brawdy farm is now one of the largest producers of grape tomatoes in New York State.
Brothers John and Kenneth Kappus took over Triple Oak Farms from their father in 1981. The now third generation dairy operation consists of 150 milking cows and 150 replacement and market stock. Among many awards, the farm has been recognized by the Empire State Milk Quality Council with the Super Milk Award for quality every year since 2000, the year the award was initiated. It has been designated a Dairy of Distinction by the Northeast Dairy Farm Beautification Program, and the farm has produced multiple champion and grand champion livestock in the dairy division at the Erie County Fair. As they look to the future, they hope to invest in additional mechanization and strategies to improve their dairy herd.
“As young farmers, we had the advantage of taking over the family farm,” said Ken Kappus. “Those opportunities are becoming increasingly rare and entry into a farm business is more difficult every year. If the Kappus family should ever cease farming this land, we know we will be in a position to help a new farm family become established.”
Town Supervisor Missy Hartman couldn’t be happier about this news. “Our farms have made Eden the great community that it is today — a place where our families have access to fresh food, where our heritage is celebrated, and where our community works together. Our farmers are the best caretakers of our land and thanks to this program, we know this important farmland will remain safely in the hands of our farmers for generations to come.”
“Eden has some of our region’s best farmland. The town and its residents have a long farming tradition and they do everything they can to make sure that the agriculture remains successful there,” said Nancy Smith, Land Conservancy executive director. “We would not be able to protect these important family farms without the town’s dedication to farmland protection, their superb planning and their support. We especially want to thank Eden’s Agricultural Advisory Committee and Conservation Advisory Board as well as the many individuals who are champions of farmland protection in Eden.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Farmland Protection program. Under the governor’s leadership, the state has not only reinvigorated the program, but also committed historic funding levels to farmland preservation. The program is part of New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund, which New York State’s 2016 budget more than doubled, raising the funding level to $300 million. Funding for the Farmland Protection program itself increased by $5 million this year and built on last year’s historic investment in farmland protection.
“The success of New York’s agricultural industry directly impacts the strength of our economy and by protecting land and other precious resources, we are investing in our state’s future,” said Governor Cuomo. “As a result of the historic levels of funding in this year’s budget, we have been able to nearly double the number of acres protected, reach even more farms, and help ensure the future vitality of New York farming.”
The Western New York Land Conservancy is a regional, not-for-profit land trust that permanently protects land with significant conservation value in Western New York for future generations. The Land Conservancy envisions a future in which open spaces, working lands, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty are cherished and protected as part of the landscape and character of Western New York. The Land Conservancy is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and is one of 1,700 land trusts nationwide, including 90 in New York State. Land trusts have protected 40 million acres over the last 20 years. For more information on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, or the mission of the Western New York Land Conservancy, please call (716) 687-1225 or visit www.wnylc.org.