With Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties having some of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the state, the East of Hudson (EOH) Watershed region was significantly impacted by the pandemic. Virtually every EOH farm partner has been affected; vegetable growers and meat producers rushed to create online ordering and contactless pick-up systems, orchards radically modified their Pick-Your-Own operations, fiber producers scrambled to secure animal shearing and fiber processing services and equestrian farms were forced to suspend operations for the duration of the “NYS on Pause”period. In an effort to support our farm partners through these challenges, the EOH Program focused on increasing communication with farms, providing technical assistance to improve agricultural practices, and prioritizing high-impact implementations and emergency repairs to ensure Best Management Practices (BMPs) continue to protect drinking water quality.
EOH staff increased their communication, outreach and site visits to ensure the program was in contact with our participants, and able to provide assistance when necessary. The program partnered with extension and other agricultural service providers to share emergency resources as well as information on the pandemic, best practices and farm assistance programs.
EOH staff also worked with farms to improve management practices, better utilize resources and increase efficiency with the implementation of Nutrient Management Plans, Forage and Biomass Plantings and Prescribed Grazing Plans.
East of Hudson’s focus for implementation has been to complete critical emergency repairs to BMPs and to replace conservation practices that have reached the end of their lifespan. In response to farm requests for assistance, the EOH Program has designed and implemented repairs to wastewater systems, under- ground filtration, structures for water control, underground outlets, heavy use areas, dumpster pads, compost pads, vegetated treatment areas and access roads. These repairs improved farming operations while ensuring BMPs continue to protect water quality.
While 2020 has been extremely challenging for our farms, the East of Hudson Agriculture Program has worked closely with our participants and partner agencies to support and strengthen our farm community.
Read the 2020 Annual Report here.