Rockland County and the Town of Clarkstown announced Wednesday an amendment to the original agreement for to allow the farming of seven additional acres. Town officials and county representatives joined members of the (RFA) to speak about the community farm, which has been described as “cutting edge.”
RFA President John McDowell said the additional almost seven acres will be turned into a growing area along with the five acres currently being farmed.
“The message is loud and clear,” said McDowell. “Community members want locally grown food and see the many benefits of small farms among the suburbs.”
He credited the reality of the farm in New City to a shared vision, which originated in 2000 between the county, town, community and the RFA. McDowell said a different farm model was developed for Cropsey Community Farm and resulted in a successful first growing season. Last year, more than 200 families joined the farm’s organic Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA).
RFA executive director, said the organization takes its role as steward of the land very seriously.
“This expansion will allow us to continue to farm the land in a sustainable way, maintaining healthy fertile soil by rotating the land in production as well as increased access to more Rockland residents to locally grown food and build on the educational and community program that we implemented last season,” she said.
Clarkstown Councilwoman Shirley Lasker, who initiated the town’s Open Space Program 12 years ago, said Cropsey Farm had been number one on the list for preservation.
“It took 12 years,” she said. “ It took a lot of collaboration between the town and county.”
State groups and agencies, including American Farmland Trust and Hudson River Valley Greenway, have recognized the license agreement for Cropsey as a ground breaking agricultural model.
Camilleri said they were building a community resource that benefits everyone.
She said the farm has strengthened partnerships with local government and community organizations and educational institutions and provided the example of schools that send groups of students to learn about farming.
County Communications Director Ron Levine described the sustainable farm as an asset for Rockland that also draws people from other counties.
Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack said, “What happened here was very unique.”
He said it was a collaborative effort that resulted in making Cropsey Community Farm a reality. He credited the RFA with teaching people about farming and healthy lifestyles. Gromack offered to speak with the county’s Open Space Committee about the 48-acre Davies Farm.
McDowell thanked the Cropsey family for “having the foresight of saving the land” and not selling it for development.
Jim Cropsey, who along with his wife sold the 23-acre parcel on South Little Tor Road to the county and town, did not attend the announcement but said he was glad to see more of the acreage being used for growing crops.
Cropsey’s farmers already planted tomatoes, kale, cabbage, peas, beets, carrots and collards. They pruned peach trees and hope to maintain an orchard on the property. Although just over half of the property will be used for farming, Camilleri said they are responsible for maintaining all of it.
The RFA plans to raise funds to fence the new acreage with hopes of growing a full range of vegetables on it by the fall or next year. The additional 6.33 acres has been plowed and will be cultivated to grow onions, leeks, and shallots that do not attract deer or groundhogs. Volunteers are needed to help at the farm and are welcomed seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CSA shares are still available.