Preserving the farm: Group works to conserve area farmland

A winter scene at the Triumpho farm. (Photo submitted)

ST. JOHNSVILLE — As farmlands have become threatened, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy have been making efforts to stem the loss of Capital Region farmland, starting in the Mohawk Valley with a campaign to protect the Triumpho farm in St. Johnsville.

The farm has 540 acres.

According to a press release, since the 1980s, more than 4,000 farms — almost half a million acres of farmland — have been lost to developments.

“The chance to protect 540 acres just south of the Adirondack Park is a rare and important opportunity. We need to protect farmland to ensure the future of food production in our region,” said Mark King, executive director of MHLC. “By placing a conservation easement on this farmland, we can protect future food production and increase connectivity between the open spaces of the Adirondacks and the Conservancy’s other protected areas in Montgomery, Schenectady, and Albany counties, maintaining healthy ecosystems and important wildlife corridors.”

According to a news release, Richard Triumpho’s family has owned and farmed the Triumpho farm for over a century. He has seen neighboring farms sold and split into housing lots. Triumpho approached MHLC in the spring of 2018 regarding the possibility of preserving his land, and they now work together to permanently protect all 540 acres of his land.

MHLC Conservation Director Sarah Walsh and landowner Richard Triumpho inspect property lines. (Photo submitted)

This is done through a conservation easement, which is a legal agreement that guarantees that the land will remain open for farming in perpetuity. The development is limited to farm use whether the property is sold to a new buyer or continues to stay in the Triumpho family.

The Triumpho farm has had a long history of farming including supporting several important ecosystems. The healthy, nutrient-rich soils of the Triumpho farm have been identified as being of statewide significance and support a diverse ecosystem. The bucolic, rolling hillsides, iconic to the Mohawk Valley, feature hundreds of forested acres that provide wildlife habitat, soil stability and carbon storage.

Within those forests is the Zimmerman Creek which provides waters for trout spawning and serves as a water source for St. Johnsville. MHLC will protect the land by ensuring that the Zimmerman Creek’s banks remain forested, filtering the water and protecting water quality for future generations.

“I want this land to always be devoted to agriculture. I’d like to see a farm family here,” Triumpho said.

The conservation easement and the Mohawk Valley Hudson Land Conservancy have been helpful in making Triumpho’s vision of a farm family become a reality, according to the press release. MHLC is currently raising funds to protect the Triumpho farmland.

Richard Triumpho stands in front of a barn on his farmland. (Photo submitted)

“We have already raised more than half of the funds needed to save this farmland,” King said. “But we still need help. We are asking community members to give what they can by Dec. 31st in order to save this farmland.”

For more information, and to make a donation to the protection of the Triumpho farmland, community members can visit www.mohawkhudson.org/triumpho-farmland.

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