Certified Naturally Grown: A Conversation with Kilpatrick Family Farm, NY
Taking it Local.
We road tripped to the farmer’s markets in upstate, NY for a look at what’s going on locally with farming and the impact of agribusiness. Lucky for us, through a connection, Michael Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Family Farm agreed to spend some time answering our questions on life as a natural farmer. We stepped outside the indoor Saratoga Farmer’s Market on the brisk winter afternoon to talk agriculture. His family farm was recommended to us as an example of their success as a local, Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) farm. According to CNG, which states it is the grassroots alternative to Certified Organic, the programs certified “are based on the highest ideals of organic farming.” Specifically, “CNG farms don’t use any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or GMO seeds, just like organic farms.”
We hear so much about the need for products such as Monsanto’s RoundUp and GM seeds designed specifically to meet the needs of farmers and gardeners struggling against nature’s fury of severe weather, insects, animals, climate conditions, and other factors deemed uncontrollable. Is it possible to successfully feed ourselves and tend livestock without dependence on such products? Since we are not food producers ourselves (and I am beginning to think that’s to our detriment), we had to ask the experts. What we found, in this conversation as well as in others, is that an alternative to this dependence is not just possible, it’s happening. And, going even further, if a sustainable system is in our future, the organic food movement believes it is necessary to eliminate not just this dependence, but the current model of conventional farming. Michael Kilpatrick, after discussing his own farm’s methods and reasons for going natural in the above clip, cited Polyface Farms, of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, as another model for farming which is consistent with what he would like developed in more areas. Their website explains that their “family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm,” is, “…in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture.” Powerful concept, right? Joel Salitin, of the Polyface Farm, has been featured in such movies as Fresh, and I found it interesting that Michael mentioned him because there were strong similarities as he spoke naturally, intelligently, eloquently, and passionately about his work, alternatives, and the sustainable agriculture movement. I walked away from this interview feeling as if those who are closer to nature know some secrets, and some answers, which those of us outside, especially of food production, don’t know yet. I am looking forward to hearing Mary’s experiences with farmers in Bangladesh, and if she is encountering the same humbling, inspiring, organic intelligence from those closest to the land and water.
Benefits of a natural local farm are not just exclusive to the ecosystem. One benefit to those in the surrounding community can be the availability of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program directly through the farm. Kilpatrick Family Farm offers a CSA program, which allows for participants to purchase membership shares and receive weekly supplies of in-season, fresh produce harvested at the farm. Nice, right? Usually either delivered to you, or you can go to the farm for a pick-up and even a walk-through, there are some differences between CSA programs, depending on the farm and location. To find some CSAs near you, click here. Another benefit to the community is the presence of these farms at farmer’s markets. Kilpatrick Family Farm tables at both the Glens Falls Farmer’s Market and the Saratoga Farmer’s Market. If you want fresh, local, and in-season products, a local farmer’s market is a great place to start. Plus, you can go meet the farmer at the market, find out their farming practices, or even go for a farm tour and check out the place where all the magic happens!
On the farm’s website, they list links for further information on not just sustainable eating, but also sustainable living. May they lead the way for others! Thank you to Michael Kilpatrick, a resourceful and energetic farmer, for taking the time to explain some important details for us. Oh, and the best part about this project? Buying the available products while visiting these markets! I went home with a bag full of local, organic produce and homemade goodies, which I shared with my family post road-trip. Everything was delicious, and I am really loving all this fresh food with local histories.
*Editing Note: In the posted video, a clip lists CSA= Community Support Agriculture due to an unnoticed spelling error during editing. The correct meaning of CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, which is listed above. Sorry!*