Meet Back Paddock Farm!

by Dan Salisbury, Ed Intern

The majestic Hudson Valley sprawls roughly 7000 miles throughout New York; drive through any of the towns or cities from Albany to Yorktown and you’re bound to cross paths with one of the many bountiful farms, orchards, or vineyards sprawled throughout the state. Here in the Hudson Valley, we’ve been quite fortunate to receive access to incredible produce and meats. While this is partly due to increased consumer interest (you!) in sourcing locally and having a greater connection with local farmers, a large reason why we have such quality product is due to the hard work and pride that these farmers put into their craft. For smaller farmers, the work and labor can often be extremely difficult and the days quite long, but the finished result is often extraordinary.

Enter Pat Knapp and Allison Toepp of Back Paddock Farm. Now located in Ghent, NY, they have been raising cows since April of last year – more specifically, a herd of 100% grass-fed Red Devons. These cows have a storied history; the first Devons to come to America date all the way back to the 17th century. These purebred and docile bovines have thick skin, are efficient eaters, and their coat color can range from a deep ruby color to light red. In short, they are excellent cattle; a quality animal - raised responsibly and with care – ultimately creates a better product from the farm to your fork.

 A short while ago, I had the chance to speak with Pat, who graciously explained a little about their operation.

PFP - How did you get started with the farm? Can you tell me a little about the Hudson Valley Farm Business Incubator?
Pat - I was working with Allie at Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie. We worked well together, and realized we wanted to start a business. We drew up a plan and applied [to the Hudson Valley Business Incubator] and were accepted. They provided us with just the space; we shared some land, equipment, and resources with a couple of other farms.

We were able to get our feet wet. It allowed us to get people to know what we were doing in a way where this reputable organization was backing us and supporting us. We did some fundraising with some close friends and family who wanted to invest in our future, we bought a herd, and then we just started doing it!

You have grass-fed Red Devons at your farm along with log-grown mushrooms – and you want to mimic nature’s perennial process. Can you explain how you aim to do this?
We implement a management-intensive rotational grazing system. Cattle, and livestock in general, get a bad rap and a lot of blame for a lot of environmental problems, perhaps rightfully so. More often than not, it’s not the animals intrinsically that are responsible for environmental destruction, but more the management. [Famed conservationist] Allen Savory has really promoted this style of regenerative agriculture where cattle can serve this extremely unique purpose of creating a positive impact that we would [otherwise] not be able to do without cattle or another large mobile herbivore. We rotationally graze to benefit the land in the same way bison and wild herbivores would, and we’re always focused on not just creating a diverse ecosystem (and a robust one), but we’re really focused on building soil organic matter; this is the only way that we can be taking carbon out of the air and put it back into the soil. It’s our own little form of environmental activism.

As we develop our land base, one thing that we want to be doing is responsibly tending to the forested areas of the farm. Again, we want to create a real carbon sink in the forest, where we’re not letting the plants and trees fall and decay – we want to be intensively managing our woodlot so that they can be a productive part of the farm ecosystem as well. Eventually, we’d like to be thinning out some of these forests and creating a silvo-pasture – essentially a man-made savannah where the entire area will be in shade. [BPF] will be thinning out trees and putting down grass seed; by turning that into a twice-productive perennial system, the animals will be able to graze underneath, keeping the forage plants vegetative. The hardwood trees that we’re tending to will be harvested for shitake mushrooms production, and then we hope to turn some of the hayfields into fruit and nut production.

What are some of the challenges that you face?
Most cattle out there really can’t finish well on [a 100% grass diet]. The industry has kind of moved toward a system based on corn and grain (and fuel), and we’ve got a long road backwards, almost, to be able to get animals back to a point where we can consistently create tender, high-quality meats on grass alone. We’re part of a breed improvement program, [with mentors and colleagues Mike Scannell and Joan Harris of Harrier Field farm , among others] where we’re really trying to build up the breed forward with an eye towards a quality end product. As we’re working with butchers and chefs, they can give us a higher level of feedback, which is important.

We measure our cattle; there’s a system of linear measurement and ratios that cattlemen before us found tends to correlate to quality and tenderness, as well as creating a more efficient animal that can produce more pounds of high quality meat per acre of grass. [When BPF first began] I was coming with the idea to [raise the herd] from a strict Allen Savory perspective. Mike Scannell challenged that by saying it wasn’t enough, and that it was only half of it. The other half of [raising the cattle] is the breed improvement side of things, where if you’re not improving cattle, you’re degrading – in the same way that if you’re not improving soil quality and the health of an ecosystem it can degrade as well. We’re trying to make the most of this land, and [we] have to try and maximize the amount of quality meat that we’re able to produce per acre. Part of that is improving your fields, but part of that is improving your cattle. The combination of [the ideas and methods of] Allen Savory plus my friend Mike Scannell really just kind of took us places.

We’re trying to do things in the most straight-forward way we know how. It’s a very kind of raw and pure way to do what we’re doing; we aren’t working with huge machines and government-subsidized] grains. It’s unique in the way that we’re looking to nature rather than mechanization for inspiration in efficiency. [BPF meat] is not just something that’s easy to eat, but is something that people can morally get behind to promote their ideal of animal welfare and create a positive environmental impact through their eating choices. We really make an effort to do things that cater to all kinds of ideals.

***PFP features Back Paddock Farms’ wonderful retail cuts at every CSA pickup offered at the farm. You don’t need to be a member of the CSA in order to buy, and there’s a wide variety of cuts to choose from!

Grower's Row: Contemplating Summer and Shares

Editor's Note: This post was originally scheduled for late June publication, and I apologize for the delay!

by Elizabeth Doyle

What a difference a day makes. This aphorism sums up my swift-moving first month as an intern at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. These warm June nights and regular, welcome rains are inciting the plants to fill out markedly more each day at a rate that continues to astound.

The winter squash (and most other cucurbits, a family that includes melons, cukes, and zucchini) that we planted in early June had to be covered with Reemay, the white fabric that you see stretched over hoops in many of the fields, to protect the young plants from a booming population of cucumber beetles. Any day now, the flower buds developing on the plants will bloom, requiring us to uncover the beds to welcome in pollinators.

Accordingly, how quickly the offerings in the distribution tent have expanded (as I'm sure you all have noticed)! The first week featured an array of greens and a few petite Hakurei turnips and radishes. Now with the ushering in of zucchini and cucumbers (two crops that demand harvesting three days a week in this time of rapid growth), as well as cabbages, it seems the tent can hardly contain the bounty. Another thing worth mentioning here is my amazement and gratitude at the abundance of eager help in the fields from members, without whom the harvesting days would be a true challenge. With all these extra hands, the amount we are able to clear out of the fields before noon is truly remarkable. These hours are also a fantastic opportunity to connect with community members in conversation. As a newcomer to the Hudson Valley, I am pleased to get acquainted with this crew of farm-invested New Yorkers and hear all about places to see and hike in the area.

Speaking of members, one thing that I love about this method of CSA distribution (I come from a land where boxes are the norm, which does not require members to go directly to the farm nor allow the ability to choose which vegetables go home with you) is the opportunity for conversation and the exchange of ideas. I've often overheard members eagerly sharing recipes for things like beet greens, kohlrabi, and escarole in the tent. If you are at all like me, it is easy to get into cooking ruts and run out of creative steam when eating the same foods for many weeks, hence the boon of this face-to-face exchange, stimulating our interest and allowing us to branch out in the ways we can enjoy preparing these delicious yields.

You may have noticed the abundance of radishes in many varieties in the tent. A well-kept secret about this crunchy little root is that it is positively divine in cooked form! My favorite way to eat these gems is braised in chicken or vegetable stock, a pat of butter, chopped shallots, and a little honey, with fresh parsley for good measure tossed on at the end. This recipe can be found in Jack Bishop's book Vegetables Every Day, a invaluable resource I discovered in my own CSA rut many years ago, but you can find this and another delectable radish idea for free here:

As a wise permaculturist friend of mine famously says, "Point of view is a limit, community a remedy." (Bruce Bacon, Garden Farme) These are fine words to live by, and to serve as a reminder that it never hurts to reach out and inquire around us. If you see something unfamiliar in the tent and have questions about how to eat it, please feel welcomed to ask the farm staff or pose your curiosity to your fellow members!

5 Steps to Grow Your Own Herb Garden

By Sarah Moley, Gardens Coordinator

An herb garden can greatly improve one’s quality of life, providing everything from seasoning and flavor for food to salves, balms, teas, and herbal remedies.
Here are a couple of quick tips from our meditation herb garden to get you started:

1.   Begin growing herbs from seed in your home in early spring
Many herbs can be bought, ready to go in the ground. However, starting from seed can be more cost-effective and fun. Whenever sowing herbs from seed, whether indoors or out, make sure to really soak the seeds after planting until you see sprouts beginning to peek out from the dirt.

The best thing for herbs is to have them outdoors, if at all possible. Whether it’s planting them in pots on your porch or doorstep (good for herbs like mint that love to spread, but also for any herb), or sowing them into your garden; herbs enjoy full sun. That being said, you can also plant herbs at any point in the year, from seed or from starts purchased from a garden department (or plant sale), inside your house. This can be a fun way to have culinary herbs right at your fingertips when you’re cooking. In order to make this work you’ll have to ensure that they live in a window that gets a good amount of sun, or you can purchase a grow light.

If you plan to grow an herb garden outdoors you’ll want to either start your plants from seed indoors in early spring (when it’s still too cold for many herb seedlings to establish themselves outside) or buy starts when you’re ready to plant.

If you choose to start from seed indoors it is important that before transplanting herbs into your garden that you harden them off in their pots/trays, keeping an eye on them and the weather, gradually exposing them to direct sun, cold, and more infrequent watering so that they can acclimatize to being outdoors before going in the ground.

If you plan to grow your herbs in pots, make sure that you choose vessels that allow for proper drainage. You can further aid your plants with drainage by first filling the bottom of your pots with a layer of collected rocks before adding soil.

There are many perennial herbs that, once planted, will return the next year. Common perennial herbs include: mint, thyme, sage, lemon balm, oregano, chives…etc.

Some herbs are hardy enough to be sown directly into the garden. These herbs include: dill, cilantro, and chervil. These can also be difficult to transplant, making direct sewing a good idea. Additionally, these herbs may need to be reseeded every 3-4 weeks during the summer to ensure a fresh supply.

It is important to do some research about how best to start your herbs once you’ve decided which herbs you want and where and how you want to grow them. Each herb has it’s own planting window that can vary based on which zone you live in.

2.   Plant in an area that has good drainage and full sun
Herbs benefit from good drainage, which can be achieved by planting in raised beds, and even mixing in organic matter, such as compost, if you have heavier clay-soil. However, as Beatrix Clarke, the resident herbalist in our Meditation Garden says, “Herbs are actually very easy because they don’t need a whole lot of fertilization. They like barren; barren ground.”

Be sure to do your watering (as with any plant) in the mornings or evenings so the sun doesn’t fry the leaves. Keep an eye on the weather, as overwatering can make for less potency in some herbs.

3.   Trim and dead-head your herbs to ensure continued growth

Most herbs are happiest, once they’ve established themselves, being pruned regularly. This shouldn’t be too hard, as you’ll want to pick sprigs for cooking and teas anyways! However, it is important to clip leaves and pinch sprigs off at leaf intersections, taking, at most, one-third of the plant’s total foliage so that it is able to regenerate.

Additionally, herbs such as sage, Thai basil, holy basil (tulsi), chives…etc. will start to channel their energies into producing flowers if they are left to do so, so trimming the flowers ensures that the plant’s energy remains imbued in the leaves. (Also chive flowers are great for salads!)

4.   Harvest herbs and store
Culinary herbs can be frozen and then used year-round to add fresh flavor to any meal. You can freeze whole sprigs in a freezer bag, or simply freeze chopped herbs in water in an ice cube tray and keep in a sealed container in your freezer until you wish to use them. Then you can add them straight to the pan or pot to cook.

You can also dry herbs and brew delicious medicinal teas. As Beatrix notes, “many common culinary herbs such as sage, parsley, thyme, [and] peppermint, which are great herbs for a beginning herb garden, can also be used to combat common health issues.” She goes on to explain that teas made from thyme can be used to help treat coughs; peppermint is good for digestion; and sage for sore throats.

To dry simply lay them out on a paper bag, or place in a dehydrator (times will vary depending on the plant).


5.   Use
Each herb has many different uses. Here are a couple of fun ways to use them:

  • Chive butter (good on baked potatoes, steaks, and bread!)
  • Lemongrass can be used in a Thai coconut soup or in a broth to poach salmon.
  • Mint is delicious in fresh veggie salads; try cucumber, tomato, red onion—have fun experimenting with the flavors.
  • Savory, thyme, and garlic make for a good white bean soup.
  • Thai basil chicken is a great dish, or for a slightly new take on a classic, try Thai basil pesto.
  • Lavender, chamomile, mint, lemon balm, nettle, Echinacea, and many many more herbs can all be made into delicious health enhancing teas by simply drying the herbs on a paper bag or in a dehydrator, then brewing them in a tea basket.

Beatrix will tell you that “Many plants we consider weeds have herbal properties that can be used for healing,” so feel free to research and experiment with all kinds of herbs after you have established your traditional favorites.

Not only that, she says that in the spring, she eats her weeds; “I make salads with lamb’s quarter; I eat a lot of nettles”—and I double-checked with her—she says you must sauté or steam the nettles first to kill their sting (anything you would normally do to cook spinach). I look forward to giving it a try (after using gloves to harvest and prepare, of course).

The best thing to do is to pick herbs that speak to you. Whether you lean more towards culinary herbs to spruce up your kitchen creations, or medicinal herbs as a safe and healthy way to boost your immune system, find the herbs that enrich your life. To your herb garden from ours, wishing you happiness and health.

References: Accessed on July 13th accessed on July 13th
Interview with Beatrix Clarke, July 19, 2017

Thanks a BUNCH!!!!

As the academic year comes to a close we must say goodbye to our student interns in the education department. It seems impossible to express our gratitude for them in adequate terms. This team of unbelievably passionate, fun-loving people devoted so much time, sweat, and love to our work in Poughkeepsie. Between classes, exams, papers, extracurricular clubs, and maintaining an active social life, they still managed to come to the farm each day energized and excited to dive right in (rain, shine, or snow!).

Anthony, Sophie, Carly, Isabel, Olivia, Rodnisha, Zoe, Alyssa, Sevine, Cymphoni, Dan, John, Sathia, Maria, Liza, Fiona, Allie, Samantha, Tina, thank you so much for your invaluable contributions!

We are thrilled by the educational opportunity that this program provides for interns, the sense of community it fosters, and of course, the powerful impact it has in our city. Interested in growing with us as garden based educators this summer?  We are seeking volunteers who are able to commit to one or more 4 hour sessions a week from July - August. These “Super Volunteers” will join our Education staff by assisting with field trips, cooking and growing workshops, and other special education-based events. Reach out to our Education Manager to learn more and let’s get dirty! 

Grower's Row: Welcome to Summer (almost!)

Grower’s Row: Welcome to Summer (almost!)
By Lauren McDonald

We’re excited (and maybe a bit overwhelmed!) to be back in the full swing of summer on the farm. It’s hard to believe we’re harvesting again; we only had about a month break between the last chard in Tunnel 2 and the first harvest for May Share. Despite the crazy weather swings over the last few weeks, from frosts to 95 degree days, everything is looking beautiful and bountiful, especially the arugula, kale, mustard mix, Tokyo Bekana heads, and radishes.

After recovering from two successful (if slightly soggy!) plant sales, we’ve been madly planting the last few weeks to get the longer season summer crops, like peppers, eggplant, and winter squash, in the ground. With the start of the full CSA just around the corner, we’ll be working longer days and are excited to welcome our three interns for the season- Sarantia, Liz, and Fiona. We’re also looking forward to having Workshare members back in the fields to help with harvest and weeding projects and appreciate those of you who have jumped in early!

With the start of distributions we’ll also begin our weekly Food Share donations. Our goal is to donate 20% of our produce to organizations and families who do not have access to fresh, healthy food. Our list of partner organizations is up to 15 this season!

We will work with returning partners:

  • Dutchess Outreach
  • Grace Smith House
  • Bread of Life
  • Salvation Army
  • Hudson River Housing
  • River Haven Youth Shelter
  • Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie
  • Victory Bus Project
  • Poughkeespie City School District

New this year will be:

  • Pleasant Valley Ecumenical Food Pantry
  • Beulah Baptist Church
  • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie
  • Community Family Development
  • Long Table Harvest (a gleaning organization in Dutchess and Columbia Counties)

We’re grateful for financial support from United Way and Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, and we are very appreciative of Workshare members who deliver produce and the partner organizations who work to incorporate the fresh produce into their pantries and meals.

Many institutions want to use more fresh produce but struggle with the added cost and prep time. Last year we started the Green Machines program to allow PFP members to do their Workshare hours at the Lunchbox or Hudson River Housing. Members help prepare greens, often blanching and freezing them for later use, or assist with other kitchen activities. This is a great option if you have challenges with sun, heat, or kneeling in the field, so check for an announcement from German: we’ll post these shifts on in the next few weeks. It’s an exciting time to be on the farm just on the cusp of summer, and we’re looking forward to sharing the bounty with you and the wider community!

Your Chance to Join a Great CSA, by's Anne Maxfield

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on It is reprinted here with permission from the author.
We would like to thank our super-CSA-shareholder Anne Maxfield for this post.

If you've ever thought about joining a CSA, the Poughkeepsie Farm Project has a few spots open for the 2017 season and here's why you should grab one.  
There are a couple of things that make this CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) different. 
First of all, you get to choose what you want each week.
There's a board that tells you what the options are that week and how much of each you get. It's usually 5 different things for a small share and 10 for a large one.


If you're like me and hate beets, they only have to end up in your bag if you're trying to be nice to your husband. 
If you want to have zucchini every week in the summer, you can do that too. Up to you.
The second great difference is that they offer additional pick-your-own options.
Early on there are strawberries, followed by blueberries with raspberries closing the season.
Besides the berries, there are always herbs--basil, cilantro, chives, dill and some  less familiar herbs to pick.
Throughout the summer you can also pick a weekly small bouquet of flowers to add to your bounty. 

If you're like Janet and love peas, they're usually available to pick in season, with cherry tomatoes and all sorts of peppers and chiles coming later in the year.
You also have your choice of pick-up days--Tuesday evenings or Saturday mornings, so choose whichever is the most convenient for you. The farm is located on the Vassar campus, just off of Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie.
There are also lots of other perks--a plant sale early in the year so you can grow your own (but why would you would want to?), other CSA shares including meat, coffee, fruit and more. 

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The staff is friendly and helpful. If you have questions about what do make with an odd piece of produce, there is always someone around with recipe suggestions and recommendations.
For more information about joining or donating contact them at: (845) 516-1100 or
If you sign up for the CSA share, tell them you saw it on, they will toss in a folding shopping bag, so you'll never be without on a pick-up day!

Grower's Row: Spring Update

By Patrick Lang

We're on the precipice of something that feels big... This is at least the sense I get as we push through April and begin the month of May on the farm. The feverish work (for the most part) of April and early May are entirely dedicated to Plant Sale/Open Farm Day and the start of the CSA season, including May Share.

What has the farm crew been up to? In the weeks leading up to the plant sale, PFP's small greenhouse has been packed with both plants and people; one is forced to move deftly given the many precariously situated trays and pots of growing seedlings! While plant growth has generally been good this spring, we have experienced far more overcast skies than we are used to. Cloudy conditions demand that we be very attentive to moisture in the greenhouse, since standing water will evaporate slowly, a condition that can favor the spread of disease.

Other plants that would benefit from more bright sunlight are this season's tomatoes, which were transplanted into the high tunnel in mid-March! In this case, the slow growth may help us a little bit, as a tremendous amount of work will be needed to maintain these growing plants: pruning each plant and setting up 1 to 2 trellis lines for each plant are both priorities these days. Of course the promise of red and orange slicing tomatoes, as well as over 20 varieties of heirlooms, makes this well worth the effort.

Finally, as we think especially about extending the beginning of the CSA season, we've shifted our thoughts somewhat to perennial crops on the farm. There are many reasons to consider perennials as a complement to our favorite annual veggies, and chief among those is greater reliability in an era of climatic instability. The first May Share distribution of 2016 was postponed several months because of uncharacteristically cool spring weather, and relying more on perennials will make such postponement less likely in the future.

As some folks know, asparagus was planted a few years ago as a reliable, perennial spring crop. Unfortunately, the very early harvest does not correspond with any of our distribution times, which makes it unsuitable for CSA (fortunately, though, our education team is able to use it throughout the harvest window, sharing the beauty and deliciousness of asparagus with PCSD students!). This spring, we directed our attention to rhubarb; the 200 plants we've tended in the past 2 years yielded 600 new crowns when we dug them up, and each one has been replanted in a new rhubarb patch that is near the pick-your-own entrance. Rhubarb is wonderfully productive and demands almost no maintenance, and the plants recently transplanted should be large enough to provide delicious early season food one to two years from now.

If you will be here for Plant Sale and Open Farm Day (and we hope you are!), check out the perennial patch near the PYO gate, where the new rhubarb patch rests alongside raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries that all have a fresh, thick layer of woodchips, helping to ensure their continued health. We look forward to helping to get your garden going and to welcome the 2017 farm season this May. See you here soon!

Explore the Farm With Your Preschooler

By Lia Harris, Little Sprouts Instructor,

Digging in the dirt.  Eating carrots fresh from the farm.  Looking for bugs.  Planting seeds and watching them grow.  Singing songs and listening to the birds.  These are just a few of the things we’ll be doing this spring on the farm with our brand-new kids program, Little Sprouts! 

We all need to slow down a little bit more, take the time to look around and learn about the beautiful place in which we live, and build relationships with each other.  Kids are really good at doing those things, and this class is a way to encourage them to become comfortable outside, both on the farm and in the woods.  Alternatively, if your child is already comfortable outside, this class will help him or her work in a group setting and learn some ways of exploring the outdoors with science.  Through a mix of carefully planned activities and open inquiry, your child will have a chance to learn how the plants we love to eat grow, and why.  The more we get our kids outside, and the earlier we do it, the more likely they will be to develop a positive emotional connection to nature.  Through Little Sprouts, we will also explore where our food comes from and enjoy eating fresh, local food.  This is the ideal way to develop a positive community where kids enjoy eating healthy and are excited about growing their own food, which will also guide them on to a lifetime of eating locally! 

I can’t wait to be your family’s guide on this journey.  I’ve been a middle school science teacher and an environmental educator for over 15 years.  I developed my love of working with pre-school children through teaching ecology programs at the Cary Institute, and am currently pursuing my PhD in science education at the University at Albany. As a mom to two littles, I feel very strongly that we need to allow our children the space to explore the outdoors safely.  I also believe that little ones are natural scientists who just need a little bit of guidance to set up some fun and engaging experiments.  And finally, as a parent, I know that I’ll learn from our classes too as our children challenge me to look at the world differently.  I look forward to seeing you on the farm and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!

Open Farm and Plant Sale Days 2017

Editor's Note: We have changed the text below to reflect our new plans for a wet first weekend. Even if you read our first edition of this blog post, please read on for new scheduling info and you won't miss out on a great day!

Rain or Shine Plant Sale Open Farm Day at PFP returns Saturday May 6th and 13th from 9am – 2pm!

Everyone is welcome, bring friends and family!
Below are the schedules for each day:

May 6th – Rain or shine, thanks to the Environmental Co-op letting us use their barn!

  • Of course a bounty of beautiful hand grown flowers, herbs and veggies to take home and plant or give to important people in your life.
  • Guest CSAs: North River Roasters, a local Community SupportedCoffee Roaster and Back Paddock Farm who provide 100% grass fed beef and log grown mushrooms.
  • Live Music with our very own farm crew member, Lauren McDonald, and guests.
  • Workshare hours sign up (get the good spots!).
  • New PFP Member Booth: Get “insider tips” for a more thorough orientation explaining the myriad benefits of what you’ve actually just signed up for!
  • Multi-purpose art for your garden, yard, deck, windowsill or other interior places: Nine local artists will be selling handmade bird feeders, bird baths, wind chimes, vases, pots, berry bowls, baskets & other containers. You’ll recognize these artists as PFP members and some of the most dedicated volunteers who make the amazingly beautiful and collectible bowls for Soup A Bowl (our annual fall fundraiser).

May 13th – Everything above will return, but a few more activities will be offered if we are outside and back on the farm!

  • Kids events: a Veggie piñata, make your own smoothies, arts and crafts and scavenger hunt.
  • Little Brays of Sunshine – Miniature donkeys from Little Brays of Sunshine who serve as therapy donkeys and donkey ambassadors will be visiting PFP for Open Farm. These sweet calm donkeys are looking forward to meeting you.
  • Make your own polenta: with Patrick and Nicholas on PFP’s bicycle powered grist mill.
  • Make your own silkscreen print created by local artists: BYO clothing or cloth accessory, or we’ll provide t-shirts and aprons for a small extra cost.
  • Le’Express Farmers and Chefs Food Truck.
  • Guest CSAs: North River Roasters, a local Community Supported  Coffee Roaster and Back Paddock Farm who provide 100% grass fed beef and log grown mushrooms.
  • Celebrity Farm Tours: including the Meditation and Discovery Gardens(a tour every hour beginning at 10am with one of PFP’s staff).
  • Live Music: with our very own farm crew member, Lauren McDonald, and guests.
  • Tours of the Vassar Community Gardens: Not a lot people realize there are over 70 Poughkeepsie community members who have their own garden plots immediately adjacent to PFP. Each of the plots has their own unique design and purpose for the steward who has chosen to utilize this invaluable space. Some are novice gardeners, some are actual certified Master Gardeners, and several gardeners hail from a long history of family agriculture. Some of the plots are strictly used for maximum and most efficient produce consumption, some are artistically designed with long-time family heirloom flowers and vegetables, and some are experimental “works in progress” as that member explores and learns the ins and outs of gardening.  This is truly a community of neighbors convening and expressing themselves using nature in some form or another.

Staff Highlight: Kate Dayton (aka PFP's own superhero)

Staff Highlight: Kate Dayton
By Ellie Limpert

Here at Poughkeepsie Farm Project, it’s no secret that our team of coworkers truly feels like a family. Our shared dedication to this work has helped forge strong, meaningful connections with each other. In an organization with a core team of only five full-time employees spread within three fast paced departments, this principle is both essential in operating effectively with continued vigor, and astonishing to genuinely maintain. Just how do we do it?!

Truth be told, running the show behind the scenes of Poughkeepsie Farm is our Office Manager Kate Dayton! Kate is our number one advocate, celebrating our good work with gusto, as well as our voice of reason, helping us affirm boundaries. She is authentic, unwavering, eager to share her gifts, and never afraid to say no. Since she has joined our team, we have witnessed an extraordinary flowering of human potential on the farm. Let’s be honest, we all admire her, are inspired by her, and want to grow up to be her!

I had the sincere pleasure of sitting down with Kate to explore her role, her responsibilities, and learn more about her journey to our farm family. As I prepared to commence the interview in a quiet room at Oakwood Friends School (home of our winter office), Kate didn’t waste a minute; she sat down at a piano, and began to play. The fact that she just began piano lessons a year ago is a true testament to her determination, confidence, and enthusiasm for life and learning.

What brought you to PFP?
In 2004 I left work in Manhattan after 15 years as an executive assistant for a full service real estate firm. I really truly loved this work, but the commute from my new home in Cold Spring was too far. After having some trouble finding a job up here, I decided it was my time to change the world! I started a business called “Green Courage” that sold healthy and sustainable interior building materials. A little shop in water street market in New Paltz! After this rewarding and challenging endeavor it was very clear to me that I needed to be connected to doing good in the world. When I read the Office Manager position for PFP I could not believe that for the first time in one job description there were so many diverse tasks – so many skills that I could contribute to help move this good work forward, while being a part of such a unique team. One of the goals in my job search was to be a part of a team and a community, and I really could not have landed in a better place in this regard. Be it our community of staff, our CSA community, or the Poughkeepsie community at large, I always feel such compassion and support each day and that is just so awesome. It is such an honor to work here, I feel so darn lucky!

What does your job entail behind the scenes?
An important part of the work that I do is in making sure that the money that comes in to the organization is recorded and processed in the best possible way, that we are meeting good financial bookkeeping practices, and we are constantly improving. The other area is in the management of that income in the CSA, and coordinating and organizing the list of members. If someone has committed to participate in our CSA community, it is very important that we welcome them when they come to pick up their share, and having their name correct – is an important part of expressing that acknowledgement and appreciation. 

What do you love about your presence at PFP?
What excites me and brings great satisfaction is looking at ways to improve systems and processes. I like to explore what is not working and create ways to improve on it...for instance when I arrived we processed CSA Registrations, Education Program fees, expense recording etc. differently from how we process them now. The way I came about the current method was from taking a look at tasks, efficiencies of time, accuracy and results and rearranged how the work flow took place. It is never perfect, but it is now manageable within the lean resources we operate within. 

In addition, I cannot put into words how grateful I am to eat the fresh delicious food that comes from our farm. It makes me think back to my childhood in Vt. when our milk came from our landlord's dairy farm in gallon jars with cream on the top and fresh corn was just picked in a neighbor’s field. I have great respect and admiration for our farm director and crew as we all know that growing food and negotiating the environment is a big undertaking. Prior to coming to PFP, I did not remember how amazing a fresh cucumber tasted. My husband and I sit at our dinner table feasting on this tasty bounty in food ecstasy! 

What do we love most about Kate’s presence at PFP?
Kate is a task master with keen emotional intelligence. She anticipates needs of the team, listens attentively, and is attune to the profound impact of empathetic leadership. We have witnessed firsthand the trust, group identity, and group efficacy cultivated through her ideals and integrity. Kate may say she was drawn to this position by the strength of our community, but it sure is hard to picture this community without Kate.

Fun Facts about Kate:

  • Kate grew up at the base of Stratton Mountain in Bondville Vermont!
  • She is a first generation college graduate!
  • She comes from a family of seven! (Four sisters and two brothers!)
  • Kate spent 8 years working as an Actress in New York City!
  • She owned her own business in New Paltz on Water Street! (Green Courage!)
  • She loves watching the Voice!
  • She just got cast in Anne of Green Gables!
  • If she were a vegetable she would be an eggplant…