Agricultural District #2

On August 28, 2015, New York State recertified Ulster County Agricultural #2 per Article 25AA § 303-a (agricultural districts review) of New York State Agriculture and Markets Law.  

Maps of Ulster County Agricultural District #2:    

  1. Northern Portion - Esopus, Rosendale, Village of New Paltz and Town of New Paltz
  2. Southern Portion - Gardiner and Shawangunk
  3. Eastern Portion - Plattekill
  4. Municipal Boundaries  - Entire District
  5. Topography - Entire District

The maps above are of the District after completion of its periodic review in July 2015. The number of tax parcels in an Ulster County agricultural district is very likely to change after its review.  Maps #1, #2 and #3 were created by Ulster County Information Services and submitted to Cornell University's Institute for Resource Information Sciences and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Description of Agricultural District #2

Agricultural District #2 is a wedge-shaped area covering the central and southern portion of Ulster County.  The Wallkill River runs northward through this District from Orange County into the Rondout Creek in Rosendale. A few parcels in Rosendale form the northern tip of the wedge.  To the west, the Shawangunk Mountains form a natural boundary.  To the east, the New York State Thruway forms another limit, with a lone parcel in Esopus located outside the area between the Shawangunk Mountains and the Thruway. (Continuing to go eastward, past the Thruway, flat ground continues until it reaches the Shaupeneak Ridge and the Marlborough Mountains.) Heading south, parcels in Agricultural District #2 predominate New Paltz, with a handful on the other side of the Thruway in Agricultural District #1.  Further south, Agricultural District #2 serves all of Gardiner and Shawangunk as well as the western portion of Plattekill before ending at the county border.  Agricultural District #2 covers much of the Wallkill River Valley in Ulster County.

There is no one dominant form of agriculture in Ulster County’s Wallkill River Valley, but the industry is active and varied.  Tax assessment records show a large number of agricultural operations with everything from livestock to field crops, dairies to vineyards, apple orchards to horse farms, sheep and wool production to nurseries and greenhouses.  This diversity extends to other facets of the area’s agricultural community, too.  The Wallkill River Valley sees its share of, “start-up” farms while simultaneously home to operations owned by the same families for over a hundred years and in some cases, over two or three hundred years.  The Wallkill River Valley sees its share of operations that use conventional tillage and at least one that engages in no-till farming. Numerous roads crisscross the area with heavy tourist traffic. Wineries, orchards, horse farms among other operations all have different ways of attracting tourist dollars of those visiting the area, particularly on weekends and holidays. And to keep pace with a growing demand, the Wallkill River Valley has its share of “organic farms”, but it also continues to have operations that do not use organic farming practices.

Other agricultural districts have their greatest concentrations of parcels along river or highway corridors, as with Agricultural Districts #3 and #4, or are mostly concentrated in one town, as with Agricultural District #1. Other parcels in these districts tend to be spread thinly across large areas with a few, relatively large concentrations of parcels locating in some places. For the most part, Agricultural District #2 does not follow this pattern.

Agricultural District #2 differs from the three other districts in Ulster County by its topography and its connection to Orange County.  Agricultural District #2 covers much of Shawangunk, especially in the lowland areas.  It also covers large portions of Gardiner and the Town of New Paltz.  Large, contiguous concentrations of agricultural district parcels can be found within and across municipal boundaries. Agriculture can thrive all across this area because it has some of the best soils in New York State. The area is a wide river valley with soils of the right texture, depth and nutrient levels.   The day-to-day activities of the District’s diverse array of agricultural operations often includes trips to neighboring Orange County with its businesses catering to farms and farmers. The Wallkill River Valley, in both Orange and Ulster Counties, goes a long way in creating a large enough market to attract businesses serving agricultural operations. An area that can do this is an area that can maintain a vibrant agricultural community.   The Wallkill River Valley is a place where the right conditions exist for an agricultural district to spread out and cover a larger area than what's seen in other parts of Ulster County, making Agricultural District #2 the County's largest agricultural district.

Contact Burt Samuelson of the Ulster County Planning Department with questions at (845) 339-2490 or bsam[at]co.ulster.ny[dot]us