Agricultural Land Preservation Program

The Town of Ithaca established its Agricultural Land Preservation Program in 1999 for the purpose of protecting its agricultural land resources for future generations by purchasing development rights (PDR) on key farm parcels in the Town.  It is a voluntary program through which the Town Board, on behalf of all Town residents, would purchase from willing sellers the development rights, or conservation easements, limiting the uses and development potential of key agricultural parcels.  Participation in the program enables farmers to continue farming their land.  It will help farmers stay in business by providing needed capital, and it relieves development pressures by ensuring that development will not encroach onto participating farm parcels.  The primary benefit of this type of easement program is that the properties remain under the ownership and stewardship of the private landowners. 

The Town adopted the voluntary PDR program as a long-term commitment.  Approximately 3,500 acres of farmland in the Town of Ithaca are recommended for PDR.  Since the start of the program, the Town has been setting aside funds in an Open Space Reserve account for the PDR program.

Additional Information

In 2003, the Town obtained its first agricultural conservation easement through PDR on a 40-acre parcel of active farmland on Sheffield Road, which is currently operated as part of the Laughing Goat Fiber Farm.  The property contains approximately 30 acres of active farmland and 10 acres of mixed woods and shrub growth.  The owners rent a portion of the property to another local farmer for hay and themselves use the northern portion of the property for their Angora goats, Cashmere goats, Alpacas, and sheep.  They specialize in home-grown exotic fibers and create original hand-made fiber goods (blankets, rugs, shawls, scarves, and other items).  Scenic views over the property are visible from Sheffield Road looking east toward East Hill areas of the Town of Ithaca and beyond.

In September 2014, the Town completed its second agricultural conservation easement on the 42-acre Indian Creek Farm property.  This permanent easement was purchased through the assistance of the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets, with funding under its Farmland Protection Implementation Grants program.  The farm consists of U-pick fruits and vegetables, a roadside stand, and original nursery sales.  The farm is located only 2 miles from downtown Ithaca on Trumansburg Road and is open from spring to late fall (from dawn to dusk).  This property enjoys terrific views to the east and contains a portion of Indian Creek in the wooded area along the northern edge of the farm. In addition to the fruits and vegetables grown, Indian Creek Farm also grafts and grows over 500 varieties of fruit trees (Cummins Nursery) and is home to Eve’s Cidery.

For more information, please contact Michael Smith, Environmental Planner at 607-273-1747