SALEM, N.Y. -- The Agricultural Stewardship Association will be recognizing the farming community and conservation leaders at its annual Forever Farmland Supper, which will be hosted by Meg Southerland of Gardenworks Farm.

The public has been welcomed to join the ASA on Tuesday, August 5, at 6 p.m., at Gardenworks Farm, 1055 County Route 30, as it recognizes conservation leaders for their commitment to protecting local farmland.

ASA is a nonprofit land trust that provides resources to landowners in Washington and Rensselaer counties to conserve farmland

"We celebrate this every year to recognize those that help protect agricultural tradition," said ASA community outreach coordinator Katie Jilek. "Those that come get to learn about the association and why protecting farmland is important Most of those that come are there to celebrate with those that are being recognized."

Since its inception in 1990, the ASA has assisted landowners with the conservation of 15,443 acres on 99 properties.

Landowners who wish to conserve their land for future agricultural use need to apply for a conservation easement, which is what ASA assists with. An easement serves as a deed restriction to keep any future development on that land within the means of agriculture.

"We recognize the people who do this every year, because those that protect their farms do so voluntarily," said ASA executive director Teri Ptacek.


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"It's an amazing thing they do: Not only to make sure their land will remain in agriculture long after they are gone, but to do so is a major commitment."

The ASA will be recognizing three retirees from the association during the supper, including Dr. Gene Ceglowski of Rupert, Vt., of whom Ptacek said, has been "a fantastic asset to our board of directors for five years."

Stephan Deibel of Cambridge, N.Y. will be recognized as well, who "has steered us strategically as our secretary," Ptacek said.

Of the third retiree, Stuart Zeihm of Buskirk, N.Y., Ptacek said "is a dynamic young farmer, whose family has protected two farms. As young as he is, I know he will continue to be fully engaged."

In addition to the announcement of eight new local easements and the recognition of retirees, the supper is being hosted by ASA member, Southerland.

"We asked Meg to host this because she has a beautiful fruit and vegetable farm that she takes good care of," Jilek said.

Normally a good spot for locals to go berry picking, the Gardenworks Farm is a century-old, third-generation farm. The farm's mission statement stresses the importance of conserving farmland.

The supper will feature local cheeses and fruits and a local farm-grown dinner featuring three courses prepared by Spoonful Kitchen and Catering. Entertainment will be provided by the Hubbard Hall Tune Jam Band, as well as beer from Argyle Brewing Company.

The keynote speaker will be Mark Sacco, owner of Wm. H. Buckley Farm, a direct market operation in Ballston Lake, N.Y.

Tickets are $50 per person, or $375 for a table of eight. Purchase tickets online at www.agstewardship.org or by calling 518-692-7285. The RSVP deadline is July 31.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg.