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Mindful : April 2015
groups with between 50 a nd 200 members each. “ Local groups of fa rmers a re working together on everything from marketing to organizing co-ops,” she says. And in a time-honored farming community tradition, “some a re just getting together to enjoy each other’s compa ny.” Deep Connections Jack Algiere, at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York’s Pocantico Hills, echoes Shute’s concerns, and laments the fact that farmland prices have increased steadily over the decades a nd rise to astronomical heights the closer you get to cities. Stone Barns was founded by David Rockefel- ler, grandson of 19th-century oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. After the death of his wife, Rockefeller and his daughter established the Stone Ba rns Center as a nonprofit foundation, to which he donated the land (once the Rockefeller family’s personal dairy farm) on the premise that local production of sus- tainably grown food is one of our nation’s highest priorities. Algiere—intensely passionate yet soft-spo- ken—oversees the cultivation of over 300 va rieties of produce yea r-round on 6.5 acres of outdoor fields and gardens and in a 22,000 square-foot minimally heated greenhouse. He notes that the interests of small farmers can easily be drowned out. Almost 90 percent of farms are small (according to the 2012 Census), and run by nearly 3 million farmers. But the roughly 120,000 farmers operating large industrial farms (with sales of over $1 million) produce two-thirds of the coun- try ’s food, and therefore dominate the national con- versation. But the Chenders and Shutes of the world, and the innovators at Stone Barns, are committed to the beauty of small, as they respond to growing market demand for better tasting, more nutritious, fresher, and less processed food. “Small” covers a broad range. Some people are suited to farming on a quarter acre, others on 20 or more acres, says Zach Wolf, who runs the Growing Farmers Initiative at Stone Barns, where all pas- tures are rotated and no chemicals or synthetics are used. He believes that while the going can be pretty tough for sma ll farmers now, slowly, small and mid- Clockwise from top left: Visitors to Stone Barns tour the farm during the annual harvest festival, held in October. Zach Wolf heads up the Growing Farmers Initiative at Stone Barns. He believes, in the not-too-distant future, small and mid- size farming will offer a decent living. Heirloom apples may not always be pretty, but they taste great. PHOTOGRAPHS(CLOCKWISEFROMTOP)BYBENHIDERPHOTOGRAPHY,PETERZANDER,ANDJOSHUASIMPSON 48 mindful April 2015