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Online extra: more tales from down on the farm

Posted on Mar 31, 2011

We had a bountiful harvest … of responses to our story call for alumni involved in sustainable agriculture. So many, in fact, that we’re running more stories here. Please take a moment to read their accounts and visit their web sites. And if you’re ever in Washington, Conn., or Leonardsville. N.Y. or Los Altos Hills, Calif. …

Started in 1990, Waldingfield Farm is a certified organic vegetable farm in Washington, Conn. With over 20 acres under cultivation, the farm grows many garden staples, and is among the largest producers of heirloom tomatoes in New England (the farm also produces a line of pasta sauces and Bloody Mary mix made with the farm’s tomatoes.). A diversified farm, it also has a large, active, CSA program; works five farmers markets; and has created programs with schools which help introduce the next generation to the sources of their food. Waldingfield, owned by Patrick Horan ’93 and his family, is committed to sustainable farming and helping its community by producing great food. Protecting fast-receding farmland in its home state is also priority. Learn more at www.waldingfieldfarm.com.

Harold Davies ’62 is co-owner of the Horned Dorset Inn in Leonardsville, N.Y. The business, now in its 34th season, grows several acres of its own organic vegetables for use in its food. Davies also purchases locally grown, organic poultry, eggs, milk and fruits, most of which is prepared from scratch in the French style. By serving meals made with local food, the Horned Dorset is doing its part to be sustainable and support farms in its community. The inn itself also has ties to agriculture beyond the produce harvested on its premises. Davies writes, “The name is Horned Dorset because we began this eating venture growing Horned Dorset sheep.” Davies also helps run the Horned Dorset Primavera Hotel in Puerto Rico. Learn more about both venues at www.horneddorset.com.

John Nickles ’60 and his wife, Betty, are supporting sustainable agriculture from the ground up on the farm 16 miles south of Albany, N.Y., which Betty’s parents purchased in 1950. Here, Christopher and Samantha Kemnah have set up an organic vegetable Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation with pick-ups at the farm and in Albany. This year, Chris and Samantha have added several cows and some chickens, so the place is beginning to be a real farm again. The young couple work together and are firm believers in sustainable agriculture practices, including using manures, crop rotation, rock powders and organic fertilizers to nurture the soil. Chris, with a master’s degree in geology, is enough of a scientist to rely on testing, such as electroconductivity and refractometry, to monitor progress of the soil toward sustainability and high fertility. For more information on Chris and Samantha’s operation, go to www.otterhookfarms.com.

Hidden Villa farm in Los Altos Hills, Calif. instituted a CSA in 1994, and Diane Ciesinski, wife of Union trustee Stephen Ciesinski ’70, was one of the original shareholders. The CSA started with 30 members and now has 100. Diane enjoys the fact that participating in the CSA gives her a variety of new vegetables and foods not normally found in the stores. She also appreciates the recipes that are provided to help her understand exactly how to prepare the unfamiliar produce. Members are welcome to volunteer once a week, though it’s not required. When Diane first started, she and her dad would volunteer together – helping with planting, weeding and harvesting. She learned a lot about what it means to grow vegetables and control pests organically. Hidden Villa has also been at local farmers markets for last four years, where it sells eggs and frozen meat. The farm raises lamb and pork, in addition to its vegetables, and donates 25 percent of what it grows to the local food closet as well. Diane enjoyed showing the farm off when Union President Stephen C. Ainlay and Vice President for College Relations Stephen Dare visited the area in March 2009. Learn more about Hidden Villa at www.hiddenvilla.org 

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Concert series favorite, Emerson String Quartet, returns

Posted on Jan 21, 2011

20090129104957_Emerson_String_QuartetEmerson String Quartet

As part of a tour schedule that spans three continents, the renowned Emerson String Quartet will appear at Memorial Chapel on Sunday, Jan. 30 at 3 p.m., 28th Chamber Concert Series performance.

Called “America’s greatest quartet” by Time magazine, the ensemble features violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, who alternate first chair responsibilities, along with cellist David Finckel and violist Lawrence Dutton.

At Union, the group will perform Beethoven’s Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131 and Schubert’s Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D.887.

Formed at the Juilliard School in 1976, Emerson has been touring, recording and performing for more than three decades. The artists have achieved unparalleled recognition with 30 acclaimed recordings produced with Deutsche Grammophon and nine Grammy awards, the most recent in 2010 for Best Chamber Music Performance. Emerson also has captured three Gramophone awards and the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.

Named after American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, the New York City-based quartet will appear this season in London’s Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall, and make its second tour through South America. It continues its residency at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., now in its 31st sold-out season.

In April 2010, Deutsche Grammophon released the Emerson String Quartet’s latest recording, the 3-CD set “Old World, New World.”

Tickets for Emerson String Quartet are free to the Union community, $25 for general admission and $10 for area students. For more information, visit http://www.union.edu/ConcertSeries

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“The Hijabi Monologues”

Posted on Jan 20, 2011

The recent performance of “Hijabi Monologues: The Women Under the Head Scarves,” a play that examines a simple piece of clothing and the complex reactions to it in the U.S., was mentioned in the Times Union blog, "Muslim Women."

This powerful storytelling experience is designed to create a space for American Muslim women to share experiences, use their voices and connect with others.

To read the blog posting, click here.

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Chronicle to get makeover

Posted on Jan 20, 2011

This is a reminder to stay tuned for an all-new version of your weekly Chronicle, coming soon.  

The Chronicle will continue to bring you the latest Union news, announcements, events and other key information from our website, but it will be delivered to your inbox in a more user-friendly format that can be easily forwarded to a friend, Tweeted or posted on Facebook.

Most importantly, the new Chronicle will be subscription-based, so you will not receive it unless you sign up at this link: http://bit.ly/iaK5Tm

As always, faculty and staff are encouraged to submit announcements of their professional activities, including publications, grants, awards and conferences.

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Political discourse topic of S&E lecture

Posted on Jan 20, 2011

20110120100850_mutzDiana Mutz, U Pennsyvlania, S&E lecture series


Diana Mutz, professor of political science and communication at the University of Pennsylvania, will kick off the Union College Distinguished Women in Science and Engineering Lecture series on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Nott Memorial with a talk titled “In Your Face Politics.”

The series is sponsored by the Skidmore Union Network, funded by Skidmore’s and Union’s NSF Advance grants.

Mutz will explore “the social, psychological and historical consequences of having politicians ‘in our face’ on a regular basis.”

She notes that Americans today experience greater proximity to politicians for two reasons. Television regularly focuses on them through tight camera angles, and televised political discourse tends to be more uncivil and impolite than ordinary personal discourse.

“I find the combination of these two characteristics to have important implications for how people respond to politics and politicians,” Mutz says.

On Feb. 11, the lecture series will feature Justine Cassell, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, at 4:15 p.m. in the Nott Memorial. She will speak on “Social Practice: Sociocultural Approaches to Identity and Culture in Embodied Conversational Agents.”

Cassell is credited with developing the Embodied Conversational Agent, a virtual human capable of interacting with people using both verbal and non-verbal behavior. She will discuss her work with children who speak several dialects of American English and the subsequent implementation and iterative evaluations of a virtual peer based on that research. The event is co-sponsored with the Department of Computer Science.

On March 9, Geraldine Richmond, professor of chemistry at the University of Oregon, will speak at Skidmore as part of the Distinguished Scientist Lecture Series. That event is being co-sponsored by the Skidmore Department of Chemistry.

Further details will follow. For more information about the Skidmore Union Network, visit http://sun.skidmore.union.edu, or contact Brenda Johnson at johnsonb@union.edu.


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