Farming in North East

We LOVE our farms and farmland

One thing we ALL agree on is our passion for our beautiful landscape. We want to keep it as it is – and CARE for it.  Ask any resident or visitor what they value about this region and you’ll likely hear that they love the small-town rural character.  Farmers and the land they cultivate are a cornerstone of this rural culture.  This was borne out in the thorough process of collecting input from residents to write the Comprehensive Plan in 2019.  The results clearly prioritize the importance of Farmland and Agriculture.

Future vision supporting agriculture in North East 

The Comprehensive Plan outlines many actions the Town of North East and Village of Millerton can take over the next 10 to 15 years to meet its vision and goals. 

Protection of Farmland and Support of Agriculture. To protect our valuable farmlands, support our farms and their products, and encourage the continuation and diversification of agricultural activities, the Town and Village will update zoning and subdivision laws to be more farm friendly, support a feasibility study on the need for a shared community kitchen, promote use of conservation subdivision design for major housing developments to protect important farmlands, reestablish the Agricultural Advisory Committee, address farm worker housing, expand allowed agricultural uses, and adopt a righttofarm law.

Agriculture Resources

The Comprehensive Plan section Titled:  Protection of Farmland and Support of Agriculture articulates the steps, starts on Page 40.

View or download the full plan (Part 1, Appendices, and Reference Appendix)  here.

Description of Farms in North East 2020 from Cornell Extension

The North East, New York Community Profile: Agriculture and Farm – 2020 is a 2-page overview of land use, crops, and evolving conservation efforts from CCE, here.

Town of North East Farmland Protection Plan

The plan, written in 2010, is a roadmap that describes ways that the town can address top concerns of local farmers and create a supportive environment for agriculture.  The ideas as well as the plan itself are incorporated into the 2019 Comprehensive Plan.

GOAL 1: Protect farmland to ensure a future for productive agriculture and to maintain the character of the community.

GOAL 2: Support economic opportunities for farms and businesses that complement agriculture.

GOAL 3: Support agricultural education and awareness of its values and activities.

GOAL 4: Encourage town policies and regulations that are supportive of agriculture.

Agricultural District Parcels

This is a low-res snapshot.

The high res map can be found on Page 85 of Town of North East Comprehensive Plan Part 1, 2019  

Farmland Soils

Soil maps: Prime and Statewide Important soils

This is a low-res snapshot   

The high res map can be found on Page 47 of this plan.



Corn, hay, and soybeans are planted in alternating strips to protect from erosion on slopes.

Regenerative Agriculture

Care and Feeding of soils increases output, reduces inputs, and sequesters carbon…In other words it saves money AND it protects the land 

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach to farming and the food systems that result in improved ecological, social, and economic conditions.

Specifically, regenerative agriculture:

  • Enhances soil health and soil biological life, often reducing input costs and boosting farmer income
  • Sequesters carbon, helping fight climate change, and creating opportunities for farmers to sell carbon credits
  • Improves air and water quality, and water storage and availability
  • Supports diverse systems that enhance wildlife
  • Builds resilience to climate change impacts, such as increased droughts, excess rain, and increased pest pressures
  • Increases food security ultimately reducing healthcare costs
  • Supports the economic, social, and cultural health of those who own, manage, and work on farms, enhancing rural livelihoods.

During the last year, regenerative agriculture has grabbed headlines and attention as never before. For good reason. It is a systems approach that ultimately serves the business interests of farmers, while working to reverse the deleterious effects of climate change.

By improving soil health through increased water absorption, carbon sequestration and microbial activity, and by mitigating erosion, land can be rejuvenated after decades of depletion increasing productivity and supporting resilience to climate chaos.

Stay tuned for waves of adoption as proven regenerative practices become mainstream. Coming soon are important financial boosts from renewable energy and and agrivoltaics – the dual-use of solar installations such as with grazing and native pollinator plantings.  Meanwhile, more information on regenerative agriculture is available here.

The most popular practices now for crops are no-till / low till and cover crops:

  • “Do Not Disturb”  Benefits of No till / low till – video in a minute here

What How Why

  • Low till and cover cropping case study. 5 min. video here
  • Conventional vs. organic no-till article from Rodale Institute


  • Which cover crops are best for you? here


  • EQIP is the USDA/NRCS program that provides agricultural producers with one-on-one help and financial assistance to plan and implement sustainable practices – their fact sheet here.
  • Local guidance here




Management intensive grazing has attracted attention ever since Joel Salatin’s Virginia farm was chronicled in The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

The practice intensifies the soil regeneration and productivity benefits by rotating crowded cows through small paddocks followed by chickens.  Pastures are left to recover enhanced by complete grazing, ample manure, and well scratched in chicken droppings.  Pasture grasses, soil, cattle, and chickens all thrive.  More info from Rodale Institute here.


Vegetable garden techniques are mixed and matched according to crops and conditions.   

Rotating crops, adding pollinator friendly plants, straw (or even cardboard) between the rows, help retain moisture, and reduce pests and weed pressure.  Cover crops like clover or winter rye and a thick layer of compost build soil in during the dormant season.  

Partner plantings are groups that support each other physically and nutritionally.  Squash, beans, and corn are a classic trio.  Nitrogen fixing beans climb the corn stalks while low growing squash covers bare soil, keeping weeds down and retaining moisture.

No Till also applies to smaller, intensive vegetable farming.  Click here for a video (16 mn) featuring No-till on a small vegetable farm.


Agroforestry is gaining attention and popularity as farmers understand the advantages of growing multiple species in unison.

Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits.  Silvopasture (livestock among trees) and riparian forest buffers (native plantings along streams) are two examples.  More info from the USDA here.

Solar on Farmland

Audacious New York State climate goals mandate huge additions of renewable energy sources.  Carefully designed solar arrays can actually benefit depleted farmland while providing income during a long regeneration period.  The life span of solar panels is a couple of decades, not forever.  Twenty to thirty years into the future, we will likely have new ways to generate power and the solar fields of today will be removed.  The decisions we make now about how the land is treated in the interim will determine its’ fate – if it is better or worse off than how it started.  Smart siting, a proper decommissioning plan and non compacting maintenance machinery are key.  Restorative plantings, native pollinator species, and grazing animals can all contribute to substantial soil improvement.  The panels in turn serve to mitigate harsh sun providing shade for plants and animals.  It’s still early days for solar but choosing restorative practices over a desert of poisoned eroding earth is the difference between killing the land and rebirth.



Seed drills plant seeds without tilling, preventing soil erosion and sequestering carbon.

Ag Resources

Agricultural Assessments

An Ag assessment reduces taxes on land that is actively farmed. Generally:

  • land must consist of seven or more acres that were used in the preceding two years for the production for sale of crops, livestock, or livestock products with average annual gross sales of $10,000
  • Land rented to qualified farmers may qualify with a written rental agreement of at least five years.
  • Smaller farmed parcels may be included with other qualifying land under a written agreement.
  • Eligibility is determined by the assessor.

More info from CCE Dutchess here and NYS tax forms are available here.

Farmland Finder

The Hudson Valley Farmland Finder connects farmers and landowners. On this website, you can:

  • Find a Farm or Find a Farmer
  • Create a Profile
  • Find Upcoming Events in your area

Conservation Easements.  

How does it work?  Would it work for me?  Visit the Farmland Info website to:

  • Access Resources
  • Contact Organizations who can help you

Farmland Information Center from American Farmland Trust

The nation’s largest online collection for information on farm and ranch land protection and stewardship.    

Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County!

Soil tests, expert advice, training, advocacy, here

Dutchess County Agricultural Navigator – Jennifer Fimbel

The Ag Navigator acts as a conduit for farmers, municipal officials and economic development specialists to provide impartial information and advice when implementation of local regulations are proposed that may have an impact on agriculture, farmland and agricultural businesses.



Primary crops in North East are corn / hay / soybeans followed by beef cattle / sheep /goats. Most land is leased and owned by NFL – ‘non farming landowners’.

Progressive new (and Old!) Farming IDEAS

Climate chaos projections change dramatically as we envision scenarios with a wide range of techniques and solutions

Project Drawdown explains how Farming can help actually reverse climate change through reduction of emissions coupled with carbon sinks.

Agriculture, food, and land use produces about one quarter of the world’s Greenhouse gases but has the potential to more than offset those CO2e emissions by sequestering carbon in the soil. 

Radical Vision for a thriving community

The Rockefeller Foundation’s Stone Barns Center is an R&D lab advocating an ecological food culture.

The Hudson Valley, New York Vision showcases a vision for the year 2050:

  • Groundbreaking research on ecologically sound farming and food production 
  • Farmers have deep relationships with chefs and local culinary and craft businesses
  • Regenerative farming is a common practice for small and medium-sized farms
  • Hudson Valley families have access to an affordable and more nutritious local diet
  • An ecological food culture exists, supported and encouraged through market demand



The Vision for 2050 imagines a circular Hudson Valley food culture that provides good, accessible, culturally relevant food while supporting soil, ecosystems and a thriving farming economy.