Glynwood’s New Farm Business Incubator Seeks Entrepreneurs

Open Space Institute a partner in venture

By Sommer Hixson

An ambitious agricultural initiative planned for New Paltz has its roots in Putnam County. Last week, Glynwood, an operational farm and multifaceted nonprofit based in Cold Spring, announced a new business incubator project that will ensure the next generation of Hudson Valley farmers. In partnership with national environmental conservation organization Open Space Institute (OSI), Glynwood is expanding its established farm apprentice program with a new three-year development and training program that provides land and capital to entrepreneurs with viable business plans.

Glynwood Farm in Cold Spring (File photo by Alison Rooney)
Glynwood Farm in Cold Spring (File photo by Alison Rooney)

Glynwood’s Hudson Valley Farm Business Incubator, to be located on an 856-acre parcel of land on the eastern escarpment of the Shawangunk Ridge, is currently accepting applications and business plans from farmers with a minimum of two years of experience. A priority will be given to livestock-focused enterprises and diversity of farm activity.

Following a short review process, three initial entrepreneurs will be notified of acceptance in September. The program, which provides full-time housing, shared equipment and hands-on professional mentoring and training, is set to launch in early 2015. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2014.

“The incubator represents a pioneering effort of an agricultural organization and a land trust organization working together to ensure farm viability in the region,” said Kathleen Frith, president of Glynwood. “We believe the project will be instrumental in bringing more land into production and increasing the number of viable farm businesses in the Hudson Valley, which is critical to achieving our mission of ensuring that farming thrives across the region.”

“This will be the first incubator of its kind in the Hudson Valley,” said Dave Llewellyn, Glynwood’s director of Farm Training. “The capacity to incubate livestock producers makes it distinct nationally. Our partnership with a major land trust opens pathways to long-term land access for our graduates, whereas a lot of programs like this around the country struggle with where to put farmers once they finish the program.

“Ideally, these farmers will develop their businesses to the point where they are profitable or turning toward profitability,” Llewellyn continued. “Then we will transition them to the most suitable property for their enterprise, through OSI or a network of other partners we have in this region.”

OSI is playing an integral role in starting this endeavor. The organization is leasing the designated land, which is worth millions, to Glynwood for $1 per year. They are investing another $500,000 in soil analysis and improvement, and an additional $350,000 in capital financing for participating entrepreneurs. Two historic farms sit on 330 acres of the incubator parcel. Mohonk Preserve manages the remaining 534 acres.

“OSI will work with graduates of the incubator to address the pressing need of access to land,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “By working with farmers on a lease-to-own model, we are hoping that we can match them up with land and get them on that land affordably.”

The New World Foundation’s Local Economies Project recently announced a similar land-purchase and incubator program in Hurley, N.Y. Hudson Valley Farm Hub is complementary to Glynwood’s focus on livestock in that the Farm Hub’s emphasis is on large-scale vegetable production. Combined, the two programs show potential for stabilizing independent farming in the Hudson Valley and helping to continue its agricultural heritage.

New applicants will be added annually during the three-year program. Through its Farm Business Incubator program, Glynwood is projecting up to 15 new sustainable farming enterprises over the next five years.

More information and details on how to apply can be found on Glynwood’s website.

The Current is a nonprofit supported by its readers; please consider a tax-deductible contribution.