Hampton grant to pay for farm study

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Heading into the Town of Hampton on State Route 22A.

The Town of Hampton was awarded a $25,000 grant on Aug. 6 by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to develop an Agricultural Plan and survey agricultural property in the long-and-narrow primarily rural town of 893 people along the Poultney River.

Planning board chair Bonnie Hawley is urging all Hampton residents to participate in the survey so officials can better understand the area and “improve agriculture for the people that are there.”

“We’re looking at probably two years,” Hawley said in terms of the timeframe of the project. “The State of New York wanted to have a way to combat this loss of farms in New York State. So, they provided this resource. At first they did the counties and the counties did an Ag plan. Now they’ve gone and I would say most of the towns in Washington County, or at least a good portion of them, have done one. I know Granville has done one.”

The planning board’s consultant provided a statement on the mission of the grant and how it can impact hundreds of lives.

“This is the opportunity for the Town of Hampton to take stock of its agricultural economy and resources and come up with long term ideas on how to make sure farming and farmlands remain important in the Town,” the consultant said.

Hampton supervisor Dave O’Brien is on board with the surveys and plan as it will serve as a means of protection for farmers and their land.

“We’d like to see them (farmers) have the protection they need to continue,” O’Brien said. “We all know that farmers depend on income from their farms… we want to do as much as we can to help them.”

O’Brien added that with the increasing price over time of getting into the farm business and maintaining a farm, he would like to see the younger generation of interested farmers and families be protected in their endeavors.

Postcards will be mailed in the last week of January to Hampton residents based on their address in regard to the two fire districts. Surveys that will affect more than 400 people will be available online or in paper form at the town office after Feb. 1.

The survey will target three groups: property owners who are farmers, people who lease land from a Hampton resident for farming and residents who are not farmers.

The postcard Hampton residents will be mailed in the last week of January.

The Ag plan will assess the number of farms and farmland in the Town of Hampton, the gross amount of dollars produced and other unique statistics to compare revenues and losses over periods of time.

“What other things can be done to encourage young people? There seems to be, according to Cornell Extension, there’s a lot of veterans that get out after 20 years or so and want to get out in the rural area, they want to live where life is nice and everything. How can they be helped to be able to find the land that they can afford,” Hawley said. “We have got so much to look at and so much information to gather. So, I would say the first year of this is nothing but gathering this information.”

Hawley said year two would be strategizing and implementation of the plan with the collected data.

“I did not want to write a plan that gets written and gets put on a shelf,” she said. “Things we’ve been looking at are farmer’s markets, they have a nice one in Granville. Ecotourism where you might be able to do other things that do with the environment but also agritourism.

“One of the things the Hampton does have is Patty’s Patch up there on Route 4 which is a really nice facility. Someday she’ll retire and then what happens after that? It’s also about the succession of these places, the Perry farm, the Mashaks just got out of farming and are leasing land. What do you do with all of this? This is a gigantic undertaking, obviously.”

Hawley wanted to clarify what the $25,000 grant’s intention is for those who may be confused about the incoming funds.

“I think the people of Hampton have no idea what this is,” Hawley said. “At first, we talked to the farmers and they thought this was money they were going to get. This is money to produce this plan. The only reason to do a plan is if you’re going to follow up, do the strategies and push your town forward, which is what we want to do.

“If all of the farms go out of business, there will be nothing there. You’ll have a town that will either become part of Granville or part of Whitehall or split in half. Who would want to do that to their town that’s been there since the 1700s?”

For more information, Hawley can be contacted at either [email protected] or 802-770-6122.