Pave Paradise? Don’t Let It Happen

(This Article came to us from Slow Food USA and was written by By Kris Kohler and published in the Linewaiter's Gazette - A Brooklyn Food Coop Publication) High-quality farmland is already scarce enough in the western Catskill Mountains where Lucky Dog Farm produces vegetables that end up in the Park Slope Food Coop. But the level flood plain along the West Branch of the Delaware River, a source of Brooklyn water, is at constant further risk from unwise commercial development. “If you’re a contractor thinking of building a service station or a sewer plant, your eye’s don’t’ wander up the mountainside,” says Richard Giles, the farmer who is beginning his 10th year at Lucky Dog in Hamden, New York. “The impulse is toward cheap and easy—and once the farmland is gone, it’s gone for good.” Even as we in this community enlighten ourselves about the values of eating local food, more and more “local” farmland goes under concrete. This is a nationwide problem, but when the farmland in question is so near so many eaters, the result is tragic. Help may be on the way. The State of New York purchases the development rights on some at-risk farmland and is currently considering an easement on some of the valley farmland leased by Lucky Dog Farm. These easements are a highly effective way of keeping farmland from being covered in concrete. Many easement grants require matching contributions, and this is where was as eaters need to step forward. Farm Catskills, a regional farm advocacy nonprofit group, is leading the effort to raise the funds (something in the range of $40,000) required to match a state grant. Amy Kenyon, president of the organization, adds, “The State Department of Agriculture and Markets needs to know this issue matters to downstate eaters.” There will never be a better chance to put your money where your mouth is. Applewood Restaurant in Park Slope will be hosting a fundraiser auction on February 8. (For more information, contact 718-788-1810/info@applewoodny.com). If you can’t attend the fundraiser but sill want to help, call Farm Catskills at 607-643-1724, or Lucky Dog Farm at 607-746-9898. Or, simply send a check to Farm Catskills, 87 Sal Bren Rd., Suite 1, Delhi, NY 13753-1440.