Sweet-Sherman Homestead

Copake, NY, Columbia County

Cooperative Model
Updated

Acres Available

18

Open Tillable Acres

14

Wooded (or other) Acres

4

Infrastructure

  • black outline barn icon Barns - Equipment Storage
  • black outline house icon Farmer housing
  • Black outline of a fence Fencing
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Crops Permitted

  • black outline of a carrot Vegetables
  • black outline apple icon Fruits
  • black outline of a flower Flowers or Ornamentals
  • black outline of a wheat germ Grains
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Livestock Permitted

  • Black outline of a sheep Goats/Sheep
  • Black outline of a chicken Poultry
  • Black outline of a bee Bees
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Condition & Current Use

Purchased in 2020 from a longtime Copake family, the 18-acre site residential and agricultural property had been used for several decades as a revenue-generating asset that included residential rentals and tenant farmed land. The property has 14-acres of farmland with a central 2-acre historic residential compound that includes a circa 1845 large Greek Revival farmhouse, icehouse cottage, related historic outbuildings and yards  - all of which are habitable but in need of some rehabilitation and upgrade.

The 7-acre north pasture was used as an active grazing field though last year, used by local farmers for pasture-raised sheep.  The production field was in recent decades planted with feed corn, followed by organic cover crops in 2021 & 2022 to build soil health. There is however no existing infrastructure and the land will require investment from a farmer-partner to provide a water source, perimeter deer fencing, and outbuildings as needed.

Soil Types

BIA 72% and FaB 28%

Farm History & Past Use

The circa 1845 Sweet-Sherman Homestead was listed in the State and National Register of Historic Places in 2022. It is the residential and working center of the original 240-acre family farm and today is comprised of 14-acres of prime farm and pasture land, and a collection of hand-hewn timber framed buildings including the Greek Revival farmhouse and functionally related outbuildings, with historic yards. The site is located 1.5 miles northwest from the hamlet's center.

The original mid-19th century family farm enterprise initially focused on diversified cash crops, including oats, hay, rye, potato and corn, as well as the production of Merino wool, livestock, honey, and butter, in addition to subsistence crops for the household. By the 1890s, production was specialized to focus on dairy. Facing debt and no heirs to the farm, in 1923 the 240-acre farm was sold to New York City resident Frank Miller to be used gentlemen's country house, marking the end of the land's tenure as a family farm.

Tenure Options

Tenure Options

Cooperative Model

I am looking for a farmer-partner with whom to implement a cooperative management model for an 18-acre historic farm-homestead in eastern Columbia County. The site is suitable for a wide range of heirloom and speciality crops, and/or agroforestry practices like sheep silvopasture with nut trees. The goal is to revitalize the historic property for it to achieve its full agricultural, ecological, cultural, and commercial potential.

The farmer-partner will have access to a long-term lease (5+ years) for 14-acres of farm and pasture land upon which to build a successful farm business, with a possible option to buy. They would be responsible for maintaining the property’s Agricultural Assessment and would bring the resources needed to build infrastructure for their business. I am interested in exploring a conservation easement with the farmer to keep the land in agriculture. I intend to transfer/sell ownership of the property within the next 5-10 years.

Are you willing to mentor a new or beginning farmer?

No

Do you require a farmer who qualifies for agricultural assessment?

Yes

Production Preferences

Livestock / Crops Description

The 7-acre South Production Field (Soil: BIA) is a flat, sunny site with prime farmland that is ideal for a wide array of crops such as: heirloom crops and seeds, speciality crops, flowers, as well as heritage species trees, silvopasture and edible landscapes including fruit trees,

The 7-acre North Pasture (Soil: FaB + BIA) has long been used by local farmers for small animal grazing. It is a hilly site with perimeter trees and shrubs to be suitable for small animals such as sheep and/or goats as well as nut trees and silvopasture.

Crops Permitted

  • black outline of a carrot Vegetables
  • black outline apple icon Fruits
  • black outline of a flower Flowers or Ornamentals
  • black outline of a wheat germ Grains
  • black outline other crops icon Other Crops

Livestock Permitted

  • Black outline of a sheep Goats/Sheep
  • Black outline of a chicken Poultry
  • Black outline of a bee Bees

Preferred Farming Method

Regenerative/Sustainable

Farm Infrastructure

  • black outline barn icon Barns - Equipment Storage
  • black outline house icon Farmer housing
  • Black outline of a fence Fencing

Fencing

A 4-foot high wood post and metal wire fence enclosure and access gate exists around the 7-acre north pasture.

Barns for Equipment/Storage

A historic outbuilding is sited adjacent to the farmhouse and is easily accessed from the South Production Field. It could be available for the farmer's use for 1-2 years before it will be restored and repurposed as a public-facing space. There is also a small animal historic outbuilding in poor condition inside of the fence enclosed North Pasture. It requires repair and is available for farmer use.

Farmer Housing

There are varied opportunities for farmer housing:  1) the 3-4 bedroom Greek Revival farmhouse is available at market-rate rent; 2) the modest studio Icehouse cottage with sleeping loft; 3) a modest 2-3 bedroom historic residence on 1-acre of land on the property's south edge that may be for sale this fall; and 4) the potential to build a new Accessory Dwelling on site requiring zoning approval. 

Additional Property Information

Preferences: My goal is to partner with a farmer who practices regenerative farming to improve soils, and supports the biodiverse landscapes around the farmhouse to create a healthy ecosystem for the benefit of pollinators and all of life.

Zoning and Land Use: The 18-acre property is zoned rural residential-agricultural with special permit use for agri-tourism. It is situated midway between Hudson, NY and the Berkshires, and is well-suited for both farming and farm-related uses such as farm-stays, farm-to-table dining, farm-related small industry, farm store, craft beverages, demonstration site and much more.

Site Context: The property borders on the east and north to several small residences that are part of the Taconic Shores, a waterfront residential community built around nearby Robinson Pond. Across the road is a large tree nursery with silvopasture, the original historic barns complex, and unobstructed views to the western hills.

Is the Property Conserved

No

Current Land Zoning

Agricultural

Is the property located in a NY Agricultural District?

Unsure

Can the public be on the property as a part of the farm business?

Yes

Additional Information About This Property

Special Permit Use for Agritourism: The 18-acre property is zoned rural residential-agricultural with special permit use for agri-tourism. It is situated midway between Hudson, NY and the Berkshires, and is well-suited for both farming and farm-related uses such as farm-stays, farm-to-table dining, small industry, farm store, and demonstration site to generate multiple revenue streams.

Historical Background: The Sweet-Sherman Homestead endured for three generations as one of Copake’s original family farms between 1845 and 1923. Built in circa 1845 by Fyler D. Sweet and Dorothea Sweet as a diversified farm, in 1888 the farm was carried on by grandson Frank Sherman (1866-1938) who developed it into a successful dairy farm. Sherman was also a local Progressive Era leader, a founding member of the Copake Grange, and leader in establishing the local Farm Bureau and Dairymen’s League Cooperative, organizations that were pioneers in promoting the development of cooperative principles in agriculture in the early 20th century.

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