Tag Archives: CSA

The Class Goes to Phillies

Our class recently visited the Phillies Bridge Farm Project in New Paltz, NY. It was a rainy April day, but the energy and excitement of the farm team kept us going!

The Phillies Bridge Farm Project – if you can, consider donating to help the farm get a new tractor! All donations are matched.

The Phillies Bridge Farm Project is run by a large team of directors, managers, farmers, and apprentices. On our visit we got the chance to meet a handful of them – Dan Guenther, one of the co-founders of the farm, Mr. Guenther’s wife, who described herself as a “naturalist who hates farming,” Myriam Bouchard, the farm’s administrative coordinator, and Rhyston Mays, a farm apprentice who recently graduated from Vassar!

The farm project has a really interesting history. A non-for-profit farm since 1999, Phillies Bridge provides a wide range of educational opportunities centering around local agriculture. They offer a summer day camp for kids where they can get their hands dirty and explore the Discovery Garden, as well as agricultural workshops for adults. But don’t get me wrong – they also grow a ton of

Tasty tasty tasty produce!!

fresh and organic vegetables and herbs. The farm operates a large CSA program that allows customers to pick up a box (one of two sizes) of fresh produce and herbs every week. The farm offers over 150 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers that you can get. And what’s more, CSA customers get the option to ‘pick-your-own-field’ any day of the week during daylight hours.

Prof. Nevarez and farm apprentice/Vassar alum Rhyston Mays look out over one of the farm’s growing acres

Hearing about Dan’s motivations for farming was pretty inspiring. One of the first things Dan did was hold up the acclaimed book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. Dan told us that basically everything he does falls along the same argument that Pollan makes – the American food system is unsustainable and unjust, and we need to do something about it. That something, for Dan, was starting the Phillies Bridge Farm Project. The farm seeks to show that local and sustainably grown agriculture can be economically feasible, ecologically sustainable, and can be done in a way that is socially just.

Mr. and Mrs. Guenther tell us about their produce

At this point in the visit the wind and rain were making it a bit hard to sit still, so our hosts took us on a walking tour of the farm. Though the nature trail was closed, the farm’s land was plenty beautiful. Phillies Bridge also has a recently built, climate-controlled hoop house where they grow plants until they’re ready to be transplanted to the outdoors. Inside, safe from the rain and surrounded on all sides by lush vegetation, our hosts afforded us the opportunity to simply look at and smell their produce as we pleased.

The Phillies Bridge Farm Project is a really cool place. The farm is beautiful, its motivations are so good, and everyone we met seemed to really believe in the farm’s mission statement. Plus, I would’ve loved to go to a summer camp there as a kid. I definitely recommend paying the farm a visit and meeting with the cool people that run it. For more information about the Phillies Bridge Farm Project, check out their website!


Sisters Hill Organic Farm

Sisters Hill Farm SignThis Sunday I visited Sisters Hill Farm, a CSA in Stanfordville, Dutchess County.  The farm was founded by the Sisters of Charity of New York in 1998 on land that had been left to the congregation, with Dave Hambleton being hired as the head farmer.   Under Farmer Dave and the farm director Sister Mary Ann Garisto the CSA was developed from scratch, growing from having one acre in production to five.  It now provides fresh, organic food to 200 members, with produce also being distributed to soup kitchens, pantries, and those in need by the Sisters in the Bronx, who started the farm with the goal of providing healthy food that nourishes the body and spirit while helping the local community and the earth.

While visiting I talked to Alison, one of the apprentices for the 2014 season.  She and the other two apprentices live at Sisters Hill and spend the season working and learning from Farmer Dave, with each getting a chance to run the farm for a week at the end.  The four of them do all the work themselves and Alison says Dave is amazingly efficient, organizing everything so well that they only have to work 45 hours a week, which is low for farmers.  When I visited things were just getting started, with a lot of plants still in the greenhouse, but the first pick up date for members is going to be in only three weeks.  Sisters Hill greenhouse

The season usually runs from Memorial Day to the first week in November, but if you renew your membership you get a special Thanksgiving share too.  Since that was the last offering everything the members got from it was still up on the chalkboard seen below.  To go with all those vegetables you could pick up a turkey at Thunderhill Farm down the road, which also provides the eggs sold at Sisters Hill.

Sisters Hill Thanksgiving

Pick up days are on Saturday and Tuesday, though Saturdays are busier, partly because a lot of the members are weekenders from the city.  There are weekly newsletters with recipes and notes from the farmers and people are also often talking and swapping recipes while picking up their food.  In addition to what was harvested for the shares, members are also allowed to pick a set amount of produce on their own, directed by signs on how to harvest the different kinds of vegetables.  This is especially fun for kids, allowing them to not only to see where their food is coming from but to chose it themselves.  There is also a flower garden from which you can pick a certain number of stems a week.

No flowers yet I'm afraid
No flowers yet I’m afraid

The farm has plenty more plans for the future, having recently gotten some cameras to make educational videos on farming and to film a time lapse of the growing fields.  Farmer Dave also plans to renew trails on the farm land where people can walk, run, or bike.  When the trails are done, regular exercise sessions will be organized so that the farm can meet its goal of improving health by encouraging healthy habits as well as healthy eating.

To learn more about Sisters Hill Farm visit their website here!