Bellvale Farms, a dairy farm located on 450 acres only 50 miles from New York City, has been producing milk for more than 150 years. Judy and Al Buckbee have lived on the farm for nearly 40 years. Now, their son, Skip, and daughter, Amy, her husband Tim and their two children all live and work on the farm. In the words of their Town Supervisor, the Buckbees “…are the epitome of the American farm family and all of the great values that these families have stood for over the years.”
The Buckbees also exemplify the creativity and dedication required to remain in farming in an area with growing development pressure. During the past decade, they have taken several steps to ensure its future. They were among the first farmers to sell their development rights to the Town of Warwick’s farmland preservation program. With the proceeds, they purchased additional acreage and made their operation more economically viable for current and future generations. With the involvement and skill of that next generation, they have diversified their operation to include a Creamery, which produces homemade ice cream and caters to daily commuters and hikers from the Appalachian Trail, as well as local residents. Eventually they plan to become a fully operational dairy-processing creamery and will produce and sell cheeses, milk, yogurts and other dairy products.
They were also among the first farmers in the area to adopt rotational grazing of their herd, which assures not only the high quality of their milk but the sustainability of the local environment. Their stewardship, including careful manure management, is credited with protecting a rich underground aquifer that is relied upon by thousands of people, and ensuring that brook trout continue to spawn in the streams that run through their fields.
In the words of a neighboring farmer, “Bellvale Farms is a family farm that is connected to the fertile soil beneath them, connected to the community around them, and connected to the customers they serve.”