Notes from Northeast: Feature Farm – McEnroe Organic Farm, Millerton, NY

  |  May 16, 2012

Farming over a thousand acres, McEnroe Organic Farm is one of the largest certified organic farms in the region, and a place I am continually awed by. It is also the farm I call home, and where I am employed as the farm educator.

The sizable operation is not the bucolic, dreamy homestead fantasy of living off and one with the land that lured me upstate, but in the four years that my romantic idealism has been tempered with reality, I have come to respect this farm and its farmers more and more.

The heart of the operation is a commercial compost facility. Recycling food waste from Hunt’s Point (the country’s largest food distribution center) in the Bronx, the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and supermarkets, cafeterias and office buildings and manure and bedding from large dairy operations and horse farms, McEnroe models a sustainable practice for the world we live in by diverting organic waste from landfills to produce compost, the key to our healthy fields and productive greenhouses.

I’m impressed by the annual experiments to extend the growing season and produce more food for the year-round farm market, and the practical humanity of the livestock farmers who take the time to bottle feed piglets, lambs or calves whom for whatever reasons are neglected by their mothers.

Looking at the barren fields of a nearby conventional farm, I hurt for the soil exposed to the elements and erosion since the harvest last fall. I empathize with the farmers convinced conventional is the only way to farm, and admire McEnroe even more for demonstrating there is another way.

Organic isn’t just a buzz word. It’s a philosophical difference that begins with caring for the soil, and includes creating a healthier environment for laborers and livestock, and the multitude of microorganisms and wildlife with whom we share this ecosystem.

The open farmscapes seduced me to move upstate, and I desperately hope working farmland remains working farmland, but I also hope in the coming years to see less evidence of Round-Up, GMO corn and soy, and misguided conventional ag.

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