Welcome to the first installment of a new series based on some of the wonderful area farms I've come to be acquainted with as a result of having my own business here in the Northern Adirondack Mountains of New York State. I decided to write this series because so many of these small farms make up the backbone of our local economy and yet go largely unsung in our local press. I'm willing to bet its the same where you live. Those of us who are fiber artists often have the small farmer to thank for those lovely natural fibers we work with. :)
For the first issue of this new series I want to highlight ThunderCrest Farm. A wonderful local farm in Burke, New York and one of the first farm I became acquainted with on Facebook. I decided to send a private message to ThunderCrest Farm on Facebook and got a really kind response from Janet Burl. Janet Burl is a crocheter who also sells her projects online. You can find their facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ThunderCrest-Farm-150889948294354/. She has has been working hard all Winter on projects for sale!
I chatted with Janet about her crocheting. I asked her when she began crocheting and if she had a favorite material: "I started crocheting when I was 7, and though I don't use it often enough, I love using the hand spun yarn. I usually stick with wool blends or polyester blends because most people can wear them without reactions" Next I asked if she had a favorite type of project: "I love making shawls, sweaters and markets bags more!" Janet Burl recently had a set back with her health but it has not stopped her from creating BEAUTIFUL work. Currently her favorite projects are hats and cowls. Really here in the Northern Adirondacks, we love our hats and cowls and handmade with love always the best.
I caught Janet Burl's work on my Facebook feed in the Summer of 2015 she was straight out busy with the farm that she and her family run, farmer's markets, and of course crocheting. I was so impressed with her "can do" attitude and her energy. I followed her posts as often as time would allow. Now that Janet and I have become acquainted I am even more impressed with her tenacity. Of course those of you who have known ThunderCrest Farm as a staple of the local economy for years aren't surprised!
I really began focusing on local farm because I prefer to by local produce. As a result of learning that I have celiac (have done for most of my life but didn't get the diagnosis until a little over 2 years ago) I became largely vegetarian. The fact that many of the local farms grew their food carefully (even organically) and I could ask specific questions about their planting practices made me much more comfortable about my food sources. Then my son, Ian, began to show real interest in buying and working his own farm. Janet Burl has been wonderful about inviting me to ThunderCrest farm, and answering questions about her growing practices. Not only for my sake but also for my son.
ThunderCrest Farm is a member of Pride of New York https://www.prideofny.com/PONY/consumer/viewEstablishment.do?estabId=10892 Janet Burl and John Eick are Adirondack Farmer's Market vendors http://www.adirondackfarmersmarket.com/2014%20Vendors/thundercrestfarm_burl.html They are very big supporters of the Future Famers of America an organization started in 1928 https://www.ffa.org/home. I thank Janet Burl for her time and for encouraging my son to go into farming. Now I will turn the blog over to Ian to talk about the farming aspect of ThunderCrest Farm.
ThunderCrest farm is one of the largest smallholders in the North Country, producing a variety of fruits and vegetables on less than three acres. They are one of a disappearing breed of farmers; farmers that do things the old fashioned way.
ThunderCrest farm grow vegetables, fruits and animal products on the same piece of land, in what is referred to as intensive agriculture. Basically, in conventional agriculture, farmers usually only grow one, or maybe two crops on their land. ThunderCrest farm, and other smallholders and homesteaders, grow multiple crops on the same land, often planting two or three crops on the same field. They use some of these crops to feed their animals, which of course produce waste, which is returned to the field, starting the process again. They also rotate their crops, so that a different crop, or crops, is grown on the same field every year.
The unfortunate thing about living in Northern New York is that there are many vegetables that simply won’t grow here. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, celery and several other vegetables will not grow in this climate for one reason or another. “But wait; I’ve seen people grow tomatoes and peppers around here”. Tomatoes and peppers have to be started in a controlled climate weeks ahead of time. In order to meet the demand for those vegetables, ThunderCrest farm grows them hydroponically in greenhouses.
Unfortunately, this way of farming, this very way of life has become a rarity. A century ago, this was a common practice in agriculture. The average farmer produced a variety of commodities; fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, etc. Today, the average farm produces only one commodity. A century ago, the average farm was only a few acres. Today, enormous industrial farms are the norm. In a world plagued with environmental and food security woes, some have suggested that a return to basics is in order. Intrepid individuals, like the owners of ThunderCrest have taken it upon themselves to preserve this way of life.
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.