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