The Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) works with the community to conserve the farmland, forests, wildlife habitat and rural character of Columbia County, strengthening connections between people and the land. Since its founding in 1986, CLC has collaborated with partners to preserve the County's vibrant rural character. CLC has conserved more than 30,000 acres of farmland, forests, and wildlife habitat to ensure clean air and water, healthy ecosystems, a strong agricultural sector, and a rich variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. CLC works with the community to cultivate a connection to the land by providing outdoor and educational activities at its 10 Public Conservation Areas, to support agriculture by ensuring prime farmland continues to be available to the next generation of farmers and to promote land protection and smart land use planning. As part of CLC's Farmland Access, Resources and Matching (FARM) Program, it works with beginning farmers and other farm buyers, as well as with existing farmers, to explore how conservation tools might help to make land more affordable, and seeks to connect farmers with landowners, providing the resources needed to develop fair, secure, and long-term farm leases. In partnership with Dutchess Land Conservancy and the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network, CLC operates the farmer-landowner match program which has facilitated more than 70 land matches in Columbia and Dutchess Counties over the past 10 years.
The Columbia Land Conservancy is excited to join the Farmland for a New Generation New York (FNG-NY) program in order to address some of the many land access challenges that face New York State farmers. Over the next year, CLC will use the support offered by the FNG-NY program to expand its FARM program. They will engage both landowners and farmers through land leases, providing online resources and educational workshops, and, when appropriate, exploring how conservation tools can make land more accessible for farmers. This work will include individual consultations, farmland evaluations, and mapping services. CLC staff is constantly fostering strong working relationships with local farmers to serve as a basis for farm transfer planning and will continue to work with farmers to establish long-term land goals and explore various ways that will allow them to achieve their goals, including the use of conservation and affordability tools.