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A proposal to preserve historic Meridale Farms while promoting agriculture and economic development has been evolving since its announcement in May.

Bob Rosen, of Meredith, said the Meredith town website, www.townofmeredith.com, has updated information about the Meridale Farms project to provide a more accurate description of the plan.

Rosen said the proposal by local residents to preserve historic Meridale Farms has made significant progress. The project is intended to encourage local economic development through a 500-acre farm incubator project.

Located mostly on open grasslands, the project would train new farmers to start agricultural businesses in Meredith, focusing on grazing livestock and growing organic vegetables, and would include a market for local consumers, Rosen said.

Rosen said Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Hudson, announced an appropriation request for $1,817,000 in federal funds in May.

Rosen said he hopes the proposal will offer an opportunity for people to begin a productive dialogue about how to best use the Meridale Farms site so it can benefit everyone in Meredith.

The proposal also was recently added to the list of priority sites for preservation in the NY Open Space Conservation Plan after a meeting of the Region 4 Advisory Committee, Rosen said.

"This is a key step in obtaining state and federal funding," Rosen said.

Meredith Town Councilman Ron Bailey said the Meredith Town Board approved a letter of support for the priority listing, but added that the board is not involved in the project.

Rosen said the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society also wrote a letter of support.

The owner of Meridale Farms, New York Land and Lakes, has filed an application with the Meredith Planning Board to subdivide the 1,200-acre parcel into more than 100 lots. However, the company has also written to New York state indicating it would be willing to sell all or a substantial part of the property intact, Rosen said.

Leaders of the local effort to save Meridale Farms are Ken Jaffe and Tara Collins.

Jaffe raises grass-fed beef; Collins is a communications specialist who has written on the history of this town landmark, which for many years, was the largest producer of dairy products in New York and an internationally known showcase for breeding Jersey cattle.

"I dream of bringing the Meridale Farms brand back," Rosen said. "It represented the highest quality products."

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Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at stardelhli@stny.rr.com.

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