OUR FUTURE

 

Our Vision

Harlem Valley Homestead seeks to deepen our connections to place, to each other, and to ourselves by bringing people together on a beautiful working farm to share work, food, and learning.

 
 

Our Mission

Harlem Valley Homestead today is a working, sustainable, and diversified farm connected to the community. We are passionate about taking care of the land and deepening people’s understanding of the story behind their food. We are creating a place where people can come, stay on the farm, share the farm’s food and drink, and experience what it is like to live a life connected to the land.  

To do so we are seeking permits to build places for overnight farm stays, educational programs, and shared meals and events, all of which are central to our vision. This will help us to: 

 

  • tell the story behind where food comes from;

  • help communicate the importance of living a life connected to land, place, and an ecosystem, and;

  • provide a path to ecologically and financially sustainable stewardship of the farm while at the same time contributing to the local economy.

With food and beverage as an anchor, activities will be centered around the land, the farm, and food production. Throughout the day, guests will be invited to join in farm chores, participate in educational workshops, prepare food, walk the land, swim, hike, and relax. 

Guests will stay in small, sustainably designed cabins. Renovated timber framed barns will host group events, public programs, retreats, family gatherings, celebrations and meetings. We intend to reclaim materials through the renovation process, reuse timber generated on site, prioritize hiring local contractors and workers, and design the project to create as much environmental resiliency as possible.

We have brought together some of the region’s best conservationists, sustainable designers, educators, culinary and hospitality experts, ecologists, landscape architects, engineers, and planners to develop the concept; analyze the environmental, social, and economic impacts; and realize our vision. These dedicated and passionate professionals make up the Harlem Valley Homestead family and team. 

 

Please navigate this section of our website for more detailed information about our proposed plans. The revised Master Plan, which was submitted to the Town of Dover Planning Board on September 30, 2022 can be found here.

Our Design Process

All of our work is aligned with a commitment to sustainable design and operation. We began by asking – What is the best way to protect this land, ourselves, our neighbors, and other creatures that we love and need? To this end, we:

 

  • made best efforts to locate new structures outside of greenways and wildlife corridors, habitat, riparian setbacks, wetlands, and viewsheds;

  • focused our development as much as possible on previously disturbed areas and existing infrastructure and circulation, and;

  • sited structures to take advantage of natural conditions, including prevailing winds, slopes, solar exposure, and hydrological features.

 

We also plan to:
 

  • implement construction methods, select materials, and develop architectural and landscape design that reduces our footprint on greenhouse gas emissions, noise, light, viewsheds, and the character of the farm itself;

  • reduce energy demand, use alternative energy sources, and sequester carbon through land management wherever possible, and;

  • implement effective governance and an operating and facilities plan that are environmentally, socially, and financially sound.

 

Our Leadership

Co-Founder Josh Viertel has been a farmer, an activist, an educator, and a recognized and celebrated leader in the sustainable food and farming movement for over 20 years. Josh lives just a mile from the farm.
 

Co-Founder Michael Armilio is an Impact Investor with a home across the Ten Mile River from the farm. Michael has a love of shared food and good hospitality and a commitment to environmental and social sustainability.

 

Together they are working with Town of Dover friends and neighbors to develop Harlem Valley Homestead, a farm stay and hospitality center, integrated into a diversified working farm.

 

Jobs, Revenue, and Community Benefits

Our proposed farm stay and hospitality center will contribute to the local, county, and regional economies through new visitor spending; new property, sales, and occupancy taxes; and construction jobs, earning, and sales impacts. An independent Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis prepared by Camoin Associates estimated the proposed project would create 84 jobs for the Town of Dover (such as farm workers, landscapers, and educators, food and beverage and hospitality positions) and 118 for Dutchess County plus potentially up to $9.5 million in Town sales and $13.6 million for Dutchess County.

 

Five Years of Intensive and Independent Review

 

We began environmental study and analysis in March of 2017 and made our first submission to the Town of Dover Planning Board in fall of 2017.  Since then, there has been extensive and careful review including studies by licensed professionals from archeologists to biologists, to traffic engineers and sound engineers. These studies have already led to modification and reductions in the scale and scope of the Project (as well as associated pauses for evaluation). 

Reports generated by these professionals include:

  • Preliminary Water Facilities Engineer’s Report 

  • Preliminary Wastewater Facilities Engineer’s Report 

  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

  • Phase 1A & Phase 1B Archeology Report

  • Traffic Study

  • Sound Study

  • Threatened and Endangered Species Report as well as additional studies on Bog Turtles

  • Wetland Delineations including coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers

  • Site Plan, Old Forge Road Improvement Plans, and Architecture Drawings

Independent reviews of the above-mentioned reports and documents have been conducted by:

  • Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

  • New York State Department of Transportation

  • New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Office

  • Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development

  • Town of Dover Engineer, Land Use Attorney, and Planner as well as the Planner’s traffic and sound teams

To read a summary and access all these documents, including this one that shows how we are addressing environmental impacts, you can find them here.

Listening and Responding

Harlem Valley Homestead was started by members of the Dover community. Since 2016 we’ve been engaged in conversations with neighbors, stakeholders, and community members about how this project could take shape, and how it might benefit the community. 

 

We’ve also listened to concerns raised by some neighbors about the project, both in conversations on the farm, and through multiple public hearings. In response to what we’ve heard we’ve made significant changes and reductions to our plans.

To date, we have:

 

  • reduced the number of overnight accommodations 47.5% from 80 to 42. This also reduced the overall footprint, number of different zones where new building would occur, quantity of impervious surface, stormwater, demands for septic systems, and parking; 

  • removed an overflow parking lot that caused concern for neighbors and significantly reduced overall parking; 

  • moved the location of a future septic field expansion area (a requirement for possible future capacity needs);

  • reduced maximum event attendance by 55% from 450 to 200. 

  • Capped the number of 200 person events from unlimited to 18 per year;

  • added a small swimming pool in response to concerns that too many people would swim in the river;

  • shifted some building locations to further reduce concerns about potential impacts to views .

Our commitment is to continue to listen, engage, and be transparent and responsive. Those conversations helped and continue to help make this project better. 

If YOU have an idea for things we could do to benefit the community or make this project better, we want to hear it.

 

Please send a note to

askusanything@harlemvalleyhomestead.com