Supporters of open space and local farms will enjoy a “community farm dinner” in Gardiner on Saturday, June 9 to raise funds for the town’s newest farmland protection project — the Hess farm. The Town of Gardiner has again joined with the Open Space Institute (OSI) to protect this family farm, a 74-acre working farm that has been in operation since the Civil War and in the Hess family since 1928. The farm is located at the corner of Sand Hill and Marabac Roads, a mile south of the hamlet of Gardiner and just across the street from the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.

According to town supervisor Carl Zatz, a conservation easement will be purchased from Albert Hess, meaning his land can remain in farming forever, but can never become a housing development. A $225,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay half of the cost of acquiring the property’s development rights, and OSI has promised to contribute another 25 percent of the cost. The town’s Open Space Commission is leading the effort to raise the remaining funds.

The Hess farm is Gardiner’s second farmland protection project. In 2010, the town and OSI jointly purchased an easement on Marty and Thelma Kiernan’s farm on Bruynswick Road, where the Kiernans raise grass-fed beef cattle beneath the cliffs of the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge. Marty became a member of the Open Space Commission in 2011, and now the Kiernans are inviting friends and neighbors to a “community farm dinner” on Saturday, June 9 at 5 p.m. to help raise funds for the Hess Farm project.

“Thanks to the generosity of so many people, our family can continue to farm the land we love, ” said Marty Kiernan. “Now we are inviting everyone to dinner to help preserve Albert Hess’s family farm.”

According to Kiernan, the June 9 dinner will feature local food and drink, including prime Kiernan Farm London broil, wines from the nearby Whitecliff Vineyards and other fresh farm bounty — all local, and most donated by Gardiner farms and orchards.

Supervisor Zatz said that the town’s Open Space Commission has been working since last autumn to raise the funds needed to complete the Hess Farm protection project. Significant foundation support has been secured and other fundraising events are being planned for the summer and autumn as well.

“The Save the Ridge and Friends of the Shawangunks organizations have already made generous contributions, as have several individual town residents and open space supporters,” said Zatz, who added that contributions from individuals interested in open space and farmland protection are always welcomed.

The suggested contribution for the Kiernan’s June 9 farm dinner is $100 per person. Checks made payable to the “Town of Gardiner Open Space Fund” should be mailed to Gardiner Town Hall, P.O. Box 1, Gardiner NY 12525. The town’s website (www.townofgardiner.org) has more information about the dinner and the Hess Farm project and secure online contributions can also be made to the Open Space Fund there, via Pay Pal.

Zatz stressed that all contributions to the town’s open space fund are tax-deductible.