Farms contribute to Greene County’s rural character and protect open spaces essential to the quality of life for both permanent and seasonal residents. Any number of surveys of rural residents and second-home dwellers indicate the primary reasons people live in such areas have to do with their appreciation of the natural resources and open spaces offered, but the anecdotal evidence is perhaps even stronger and local tourism brochures provide examples. They include references not only to the County’s historic and natural sites but also its “spectacular scenery” and the “natural beauty of the countryside,”
Farmland is a valuable future resource for the County in providing for a healthy and plentiful local supply of food products and generating new sources of farm income. Farms and forests provide working self-sustaining landscapes that preserve and enhance environmental quality. Farms support wildlife such as deer, turkeys, and small-game and thereby sustain hunting as a source of tourism to the area.
Many new residents of the County and of areas to the North and South (e.g. Albany, Kingston), as well as visitors to the Hudson Valley, are seeking locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, both organic and non-organic. County farmers are already capitalizing on these opportunities in the promotion of farm stands. There are also Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms operating successfully in Greene County.
Based on the 2017 Ag Census, from 2012 to 2017, Greene County lost 67 farms, from 273 down to 206, almost a 25% loss. In this same timeframe there was a loss of 8,007 acres of farmland, from 42,986 acres down to 34,979, an 18.6% loss. The 2012 Census of Agriculture identified 273 farms covering 42, 986 acres in Greene County. The 2017 Census of Agriculture identified 206 farms in Greene County encompassing 34,979 acres of farmland.
Most farms lost were mid-size farms. A total of 28 farms of 50-179 acres were lost and 25 farms of 180 to 499 acres were lost from 2012 to 2017. In 2017, the majority of farms in the county are of this mid size with a 133 farms in the 50-499 acre range. In 2012, 196 farms totaling 18,716 acres were in cropland. In 2017, that number fell to 161 farms totaling 13,719 acres. The change represents a loss of 35 farms and 4,997 acres of cropland.
The market value of agricultural products sold in the County went from approximately $22.3 million in 2012, down to about $19.9 million in 2017. However, the average market value of agricultural products sold per farm increased from $82,000 in 2012 to close to $96,000 in 2017. (Dollar figures are expressed in current dollars and have not been adjusted for inflation or deflation).