How the Farmer-Landowner Match Program is increasing awareness and options for landowners and farmers.

by Karin Roux

When people talk about what makes them feel connected to this area, they invariably speak of the landscape, especially a love for the open farmland that lies distinctly nestled between forests, wetlands, mountains, and rivers. Whether used as pasture for cattle or horses, corn or hay fields, vegetable rows or fruit orchards, these open farm fields create the distinctive and beloved patchwork landscape of the Dutchess County that we all know and love. But, speak to anyone who has known the county for a decade or more, and you will also hear a growing concern that there are fewer farm fields, and fewer fields which actually produce food.

Rory Barry and Sarah ChaseChaseholm Farm’s Rory and Sarah Chase with their father, Barry, who is a former DLC Board Member and current FLMP mentorThis concern drove the DLC to investigate how to encourage landowners to move beyond having fields brush-hogged once or twice a year. Putting these fields back into meaningful production will ultimately increase food security and support our local agricultural industry.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, the DLC decided to partner with the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC), our sister organization to the north, on their already growing Farmer/Landowner Match Program. Joining forces with the CLC enabled the extension of the match program into Dutchess County, increasing awareness and options for farmers looking for land to farm and landowners interested in having their land farmed.

The Farmer/Landowner Match Program (FLMP) is designed to connect landowners and farmers via an online program hosted on the CLC’s website. Both landowners and farmers create an online profile, which can be searched by their corresponding “match” partner. The program provides a catalogue of available lands with criteria such as acreage, existing infrastructure and appropriate farm activity. The site also hosts a corresponding list of farmers who identify their preferred location, farming type and circumstances they are seeking. For example, some farmers are seeking to create an entirely new farm operation, while others wish to increase the acreage of an existing farm operation. New farmers are often seeking housing opportunities, either on site or nearby.

In addition to the essential “match,” function, the Program also offers support through a volunteer “mentor.” This local farming expert visits the land to assess its best agricultural options and meets with interested farmers to assess their needs. This important step gives landowners insight on what type of farming uses work best for their land and their way-of-life. Similarly, it can provide young or start-up farmers information on the feasibility and practicality of the farming they have in mind. The Program offers additional resources including template contracts and lease agreements that protect the interests of both the farmer and the landowner. In some cases, the farming activity can make a landowner eligible for an agricultural assessment, resulting in a savings on property taxes.

Mark Stonehill Miriam Golar Full Circus FarmFarmers Miriam Golar and Mark Stonehill of Full Circus Farm are farmers in the programThe DLC is currently expanding opportunities to inform people about our Farmer/Landowner Match Program, including how intertwined active farms are with farmland protection. In this time of international insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a renewed focus on the value of locally grown food. Securing enough food and knowing where it comes from is something we often think about. If there was ever a time to support local farmers and engage lands in agriculture, it is now.

Contact the DLC to learn more about participating in this program and enhancing the agricultural industry in Dutchess County. 845.677.3002 or