BEDFORD, N.Y. – The Westchester Land Trust in Bedford Hills has been awarded a $1.84 million dollar Hudson Valley Agricultural Enhancement Program grant from New York State’s Department of Agriculture and Markets that will protect Stuart’s Fruit Farm in Somers forever.
The project—which took nearly a decade to put together—is valued at almost $3 million, and includes critical financial support from Westchester County, Scenic Hudson, the Town of Somers, and Somers Land Trust as well as the WLT, and others.
Once completed, the deal will make sure the farm remains agricultural land, even if its owners' children sell farm.
“The Stuarts have been dedicated stewards of their land for almost 200 years in the face of such intense pressure to sell,” said WLT’s President, Lori Ensinger. “We are extremely grateful to the Department of Agriculture and Markets for affirming the importance of this farm in the broader agricultural industry of the Hudson Valley. We thank all of our project partners, supporters, and the Hudson Valley legislative delegation for their energy and vision. We could not have gotten to this point without their widespread bi-partisan support, and I am eager to begin the work of finalizing this project over the coming year.”
Established in 1828, Stuart’s Fruit Farm is the oldest working farm in Westchester County. According to current owners, Bob Stuart and Mary Lee Stuart Gerlach, the farm welcomes more than 20,000 visitors each year who pick peaches and apples, purchase produce and flowers at the on-site farm stand, select Halloween pumpkins and Christmas trees, and walk the adjacent North County Trailway.
The farm is also a beloved destination for thousands of school children who visit the farm to learn about agriculture, local history, and the importance of local food production.
“Congratulations are deserved for the broad scope of public and private partners who have come together to preserve this great piece of living history—especially for our kids,” said Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. “Saving this farm will serve the public good for generations to come.”
For more information about WLT, visit westchesterlandtrust.org .