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News & Notes

News from Glynwood


I began as Glynwood’s new Director of Development last month, and am grateful for the community, teamwork, and vitality that is unique here. It’s invigorating and inspiring. Meeting with the Glynwood team, talking to donors and stakeholders, and walking the property, I’m absorbing as much as I can about the work we do, how we get it done, and what our goals are for the future. 

Glynwood welcomed two new members to our Board of Directors, Kanchan Koya and Dan Shannon, earlier this month. Both Kanchan and Dan are incredibly thoughtful and supportive members of the Glynwood community. 

There are myriad farming conferences offered throughout the colder months, catering to anyone from small organic growers to ranchers to berry producers. Online farming courses and market gardening intensives abound as well, allowing farmers to process the material in their own time. Glynwood supplements these broader learning opportunities with a series of virtual and in-person Winter Intensives. Geared towards the specific needs and interests of Hudson Valley farmers, the series ties knowledge sharing with community building, allowing young farmers to build trust and understanding simultaneously.

Lauren joined Glynwood in December 2021 as Farmer Training Program Manager. In her work, Lauren supports a variety of farmer training efforts including Glynwood's Apprentice Program, Hudson Valley Farm Business Incubator, and Mid Hudson Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (MH CRAFT). She is energized by Glynwood's mission and dedicated to ensuring that the Hudson Valley continues to be a place where farming thrives. 

During the summer, our propagation greenhouse at Glynwood is filled to the brim with plant seedlings growing and waiting their turn to be transplanted into our fields. In the winter, it has traditionally sat empty for a couple of months, but this winter it started calling to us: "Yoo hoo, opportunity! Microgreens and shoots!" Our ears perked up at the mention of these tasty treats and we have been busy researching, trialing and developing this new venture, with the hopeful result of microgreens and shoots topping many of our hearty meals this winter.

Hay for livestock may not be as cut and dry as you think. Making hay in the summer requires great skill and care so that it can then be stored in quality condition through the winter. Throughout the Northeast, including on our small farm at Glynwood, a great deal of the winter is spent thinking about when, where and how to deliver hay to the animals.

Last summer, in the midst of the grazing season here at Glynwood, we began a process to renovate one of our large pastures. We documented the process in the first few installments of this “Notes from the Field” blog series throughout July (here), August (here) and September (here). In November, we transitioned our livestock from grazing on pasture to eating hay. Even though the pastures are now quieter and our cattle and sheep are eating hay, the process of storing and distributing feed to the livestock still requires careful consideration and a lot of work.

The New York Cider Association needs your help to pass some important cider legislation! Founded by Glynwood in 2015, the New York Cider Association is an independent trade association that has acted as a crucial collective voice and organizing body for apple growers and cider makers across the state.  

Cideries in California, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington (the very states focused on competing directly with the New York Cider market!) can ship directly to New York consumers. Currently, however, New York’s very own cider makers and growers are not able to compete equally and enjoy the same opportunity. Unlike New York wine, New York cider cannot be shipped directly to consumers. This creates a huge loss in revenue, tax dollars, and fair-market competition for our growers and producers who are working diligently to keep New York State as a leader in the rapidly growing cider industry.

The 2022 Regional Food for Health Speaker Series, beginning January 6th, will include a stellar group of physicians, farmers, activists, practice managers, research scientists, and chefs. These practitioners and leaders will shed light on how our health benefits from a closer connection to farms, and ways that the medical and agricultural communities can collaborate for better health, equity, and justice. In a world that has become increasingly specialized and siloed, we don’t often create these opportunities to examine the connections between seemingly disparate systems and areas of expertise. But in uncovering these connections, we can illuminate pathways to deeper positive impact.

The American Academy in Rome (AAR) invited Glynwood President Kathleen Finlay to be a visiting scholar for the month of January 2022 as a leading thinker in regional food systems. She will spend time during her residency at AAR exploring the historical and contemporary regional food system surrounding Rome to identify specific approaches and interventions that foster or hinder a healthy, just and sustainable supply of local food.

We are thrilled to announce that Jennifer Becker joined the Glynwood team as Director of Development in November 2021. Her 20+ year career spans all areas of fundraising, with expertise in institutional giving and funding strategy development. Most recently, Jennifer worked as Director of Foundation Relations at The New York Botanical Garden, and previously was Manager of Institutional Giving at Wave Hill. Jennifer has additional professional experience from Stepping Stones Museum for Children; Queens Library; Brooklyn Public Library; The South Street Seaport Museum; and Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.

Our winter store has jumped around the property a few times in recent years, but has now happily landed for the second year in a row in the small stone building adjacent to Perkins House. Cozy and sporting a fireplace, the winter farm store on a fall evening is a small respite from the cold, warm and inviting. With more Glynwood-grown vegetables, Glynwood-grazed meats, and local goods in stock than ever before, you’ll want to make the trip up the driveway. We look forward to welcoming you to Glynwood and introducing you to all the delicious crops, meats, and local goods that winter has to offer here in the Hudson Valley. See you soon!

This year we’re proud to be raising our own Glynwood-grazed heritage breed Bourbon Red turkeys for Thanksgiving. Raising turkeys can be tricky business, and this year was no exception. As farmers, we do everything we can to protect the livestock that are under our care and give them a good life, but raising livestock on a pasture-based system carries with it certain challenges and risks that can’t be avoided. After losing some birds earlier in the year due to various factors, we bought in more poults. Therefore, we have some turkeys that are a little younger and smaller than the rest of the flock. 

Across the region, farms are prepping for the colder months ahead: winter roots are coming out of the ground and into root cellars; animals are returning to the barns and acclimating to hay diets from fresh pasture; and farmers are spending more and more time on their computers, crunching numbers from the past season and readjusting crop plan spreadsheets for 2022.

With this season wrap-up comes the close of the 2021 Food Sovereignty Fund. For the past six months, seventeen regional farms led by BIPOC, LGTBQ+ and/or women farmers have been growing food for fifteen community food access programs across the Hudson Valley and in New York City.

Barnyard, overripe melon, green apple, plastic, mint. These descriptors may not have much in common, but they were all uniquely identified as flavors or aromas during a cider sensory analysis that Glynwood organized at Angry Orchard last August. 

This sensory gathering was a long-anticipated opportunity to taste the first products of the Cider Project’s fermentation trials. Featuring fruit from trees donated and planted by the Cider Project in 2017, the trials are an ongoing effort to identify unique cider flavors, structures, and even terroir by fermenting juice from distinct orchards and apple varieties (separately, but under uniform conditions), then comparing and contrasting the ciders in a controlled tasting environment.

If you’ve visited Glynwood in person, you’ve likely enjoyed the view when you take the entrance to the farm via the Bigs Woods Trailhead. I’ve always enjoyed looking down the hill at the tiny version of our campus and feeling that I am on-set for the bucolic version of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Won’t you see my compost?

Along the drive down to campus you’ll spot our compost pad where we manage several ‘windrows’ of compost. We make compost at Glynwood every season, and spread it on our pastures and vegetable fields to naturally replenish and fertilize the soil. There are many steps to produce quality compost.

Rhythms change across the farm throughout the year. In a grazing-based system, the fall and spring bring striking changes for the livestock and their caretakers. The most significant difference is how and where the livestock eat. This shift presents both challenges and welcome relief. 

This season we had four ruminant groups on Glynwood’s 70 acres of primary pasture: ewes, weaned lambs, cow-calf pairs, and cattle growing-stock (or “yearlings”). We pay close attention to soil conditions and pasture growth to determine when the animals move from one paddock to the next. During late fall, the ruminants at Glynwood shift from grazing forage that is photosynthesizing and growing to eating stored and stockpiled feed. 

The newly formed Grains and Staples Program at Glynwood seeks to build markets for emerging staples crops and promote production of regionally appropriate grains and staples, with a special emphasis on ensuring these production systems adopt climate adaptation strategies. This is an outward looking project drawing from the history of and resources from the Hudson Valley region and beyond to prepare for a future with many unknowns for food production and distribution. Right now, the Grains program and the farm team have established a small experimental grains garden for a closer look at several different kinds of grains that might be grown on the Glynwood Farm in the future.

For many farmers, the autumn equinox signals a wind-down of sorts. Fewer hours of daylight means more time is spent storing roots, prepping beds and barns for the winter, and looking at crop planning spreadsheets, and far less time is dedicated to the classic summer stressors of harvesting, rotating pastures, weeding, and managing pests. But for apple growers, the fall season is the busiest of the year. Especially during a bumper crop such as this year’s, apple growers and cider makers are working nonstop from August through October or even November. Whether getting fruit off the trees and into storage, pressing apples for cider (both fresh, sweet cider and its fermented, alcoholic counterpart), welcoming droves of apple pickers on the weekends, or monitoring the forecast for potential frosts, growers lean into the demanding months with the understanding that the literal fruits of their labor will be enjoyed well into the following year.

Last weekend, we invited back apprentice alums for Homecoming, an opportunity to visit the farm and celebrate the end of the season along with our staff and board members. Over 50 people gathered on this land that has been transformative for many new-entry farmers in the Hudson Valley. While many are still farming, both in the Hudson Valley and elsewhere, others are pursuing Ph.D. research and working in areas such as climate change advocacy and farm policy. Having so many past apprentices back  on the farm was a potent reminder of the lives and careers that have been shaped by living and learning on this land. 

There has never been a better time to celebrate NY cider during Cider Week! Directly tied to New York’s agricultural cash crop of apples, cider in New York has seen an unprecedented growth explosion of over 450% in the past ten years and now has a $1.7 billion total economic impact to the NY state economy. With over 120 producers making over 5 million gallons of cider every year, New York continues to lead the country in its number of cider producers.

It’s that time of year again! Yes, breeding season. Every fall, the livestock team gears up to breed our cattle and sheep. While we have a ram to naturally service our ewes, this season we have decided to use artificial insemination to breed our cows. 

Artificial insemination (AI) is the process of breeding cattle using frozen semen. We decided to use AI as our primary breeding method this season because it gives us more flexibility and control over the herd’s genetic makeup. Through AI, we will be able to introduce increased genetic diversity into next season’s calf crop without having to keep multiple bulls on the farm.

For me, the fall equinox on a working farm is laden with the ebbs and flows of reflection, melancholy, envisioning and joy. It is a suspended moment of balance to revel in what the farm is and might be. Here, at Glynwood, my mind and body are very much fixed on the land itself and how the people, livestock and wildlife are entwined. 

The summer provided far from “normal” weather patterns, though weather extremes are becoming more typical due to the climate crisis. Tropical systems Henri and Ida did not cause much damage on most of Glynwood’s farm, but they did disrupt the schedule of fieldwork for Middle Field. This pasture, more so than others at Glynwood, stays saturated long after rain events. The dominant soil type, Paxton, is classified as well-drained, but water does tend to perch on the densic substrata of this soil. Middle Field also has pockets of fairly severe compaction which we will address with keylining or master-keying across the farm in future seasons. Given the wet soil conditions at the end of August continuing into the first two weeks of September, it was only last week that I felt comfortable, still with trepidation, about putting the tractor and disk harrow on the field to terminate the warm season annual planting. My concern was that I would risk doing more damage than good by adding to the compaction issues. 

Though fall is here, the growing season is far from over! With the last tomatoes and the first of the winter storage crops coming in, this is the time of year when it’s easy to make every meal from fresh, local produce and it’s been great to see our community coming out to shop at the Glynwood Farm Store to pick up our produce, meat and other local goods to help them do exactly that. If you have not yet come to the Farm Store this season, please do stop by in the coming weeks as the last tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, winter squash, potatoes, onions, garlic and vibrant greens come in from the fields. 

This summer, we were lucky enough to exchange farm visits and apprentice learning opportunities with DIG Acres, a farm operation managed by fast casual restaurant chain DIG Inn and located at the Chester Ag Center. DIG Acres has long been a farmer training partner of ours; several of Glynwood’s Farm Business Incubator participants have simultaneously participated in DIG’s Incubator program (which includes farmland and shared equipment), and farm manager Larry Tse has been a Mid Hudson CRAFT organizer for several years. However, this was the first year in which we have coordinated a complementary apprentice exchange. We were delighted with the results. 

For as long as humans have existed, we have been using plants to heal ourselves. What began as an instinctive search for medicines to relieve our ailments and diseases became numerous traditional systems of medicine developed by people over millennia. In many places around the world, herbal medicine is still the norm—for example up to 80% of people on the African continent use traditional herbal medicine as their primary health care. However, in the U.S., herbalism falls under the umbrella of “alternative” or “complementary” medicine, and we have been taught to be both skeptical of its efficacy and fearful of its power.

We’re in the height of the growing season, and the farmers participating in Glynwood’s Food Sovereignty Fund are providing a bounty of fresh, delicious, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods to their community based partners. From the northern end of Columbia County to the Bronx, these community partners are distributing the food at no cost to folks who are facing food insecurity. While there is still a lot of growing and harvesting left to go this season, we wanted to provide a snapshot of the impact this innovative program has had so far.

Last month I introduced you to the decision to “renovate” the seven-acre Middle Field pasture here at Glynwood, and to the methods we are using to implement this overall improvement. We terminated the existing perennial stand of grasses, legumes, and forbs via moldboard plow and disk harrow in May and seeded to a warm-season annual plant mix in mid-June. This was the first step in a process to remove unwanted species like Russian knapweed and yellow nutsedge, and to ultimately replace the existing stand with more desirable perennial pasture species for our ruminants.

Glynwood has been the host of many weddings, photoshoots and social gatherings over the years. From the bucolic rolling hills of the farm to the lakefront boathouse, our events experience the magic that this land has to offer. However, the wedding and event industry is one that is not always kind on the land, producing waste, high impact and carbon emissions as a result of its efforts.

As you might assume, summer is a busy time on the farm. Long days of hard work, hot weather...and wonderful bounty. This growing season has been tough; we started out hot and dry, needing to irrigate as early as May, and then it seemingly never stopped raining in July, emboldening the weeds to grow like...well, like weeds. Fortunately August has gifted us with some cooler temperatures, more stable weather patterns, and a bounty of amazing produce for the CSA, the Farm Store, and our food donations to local food relief agencies.

At the end of June, Mid Hudson Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) participants met at Ever-Growing Family Farm in Ulster Park for a community work day. For most CRAFT participants, this was their first time laying eyes on a rice paddy anywhere—let alone in the Hudson Valley. They were struck by the beauty of the paddies speckling the landscape and impressed by the productive land use in what would otherwise be unsuitable for agricultural purposes.

We couldn’t be more pleased to announce that Laura Lengnick will be joining Glynwood as Director of Agriculture in September. Laura will work with the entire Glynwood team to ensure that Glynwood’s farm and farmer training efforts reflect best practices in climate-smart agriculture and strengthen Glynwood’s contribution to national efforts to re-regionalize the U.S. food system as a community resilience strategy.  

Today, we view the work of building the local grains system as ever more urgent as we recognize the impact that agriculture can have on climate change adaptation, the need to move towards plant-based diets, and to work with and support those growers who are committed to sustainable and regenerative farming practices. Staple crops are uniquely poised to diversify the crop rotations on regional farms and enrich our soils, all while adding nutrient-dense ingredients into our diets. The shockwaves of COVID have only further instilled that strengthening regional food systems is our pathway to resilience. We now know we can do it if we are committed to a reciprocal economy.

Before this grazing season got underway, we decided Middle Field needed an intervention. But how to transition it to the plant community we desire—a diverse mix of cool season perennial grasses, legumes, and forbs? With ample time and very intensive grazing under ideal animal stocking and mechanical management, we could likely get there without tillage. We could also jump start the succession with a series of intense disturbances: termination tillage and short-term successive plantings. 

This past spring, the New York Cider Association participated in a six-seminar social justice series with Dr. J Jackson-Beckham, a leader in equity and diversity in the craft beverage industry. The goal was to identify actionable goals that individual cider makers, apple growers, and the Association more broadly can take to increase diversity, equity and justice in their organizational makeup and audience alike.

Thanks to many champions of regional agriculture, including NOFA-NY, American Farmland Trust, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Michelle Hinchey, the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act (A5386/S4722) recently passed the New York State Assembly and Senate and is on its way to Governor Cuomo.

On April 24th, a small group came together to plant 160 bareroot seedlings of 8 woody shrub and tree species into a temporary nursery space at Glynwood. They will reside here for a year, a relatively long heel-in stop-over, before being dispersed to permanent locations around Glynwood and at the proposed new home of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Garrison. The trees and shrubs—eastern white pine, white spruce, pagoda (alternate leaf) dogwood, river birch, serviceberry, sweetbay magnolia, witch hazel, and ninebark—were acquired through Putnam County Soil and Water District’s Annual Plant Sale. All but the white spruce is within native range. They are largely adaptable species, being able to grow well, if not thrive, in varied conditions. It was a fun and energizing morning to talk and think about these plants and where they are headed.

Gleaning, the process of harvesting crops left over from a farmer’s harvest on a field, has roots that far pre-date modern agriculture, yet the practice remains a relevant and useful way to gather the crops that the farmer doesn’t have time to harvest, or that are “seconds” quality so that this food can nourish people. “Seconds” quality is generally used to describe food (usually vegetables) that is perfectly good to eat, but that doesn’t have the picture-perfect looks that they need to move through a farm store, or to be sold wholesale to a grocery store.

Every season, branches of CRAFT—The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training—across the northeast (including one in the Mid-Hudson Valley) host in-depth farm tours, allowing farmers in training (whether formal apprentices or crew members) to visit different farm enterprises, develop practical farm skills, and network with other farmers and apprentices.

We are thrilled to welcome June Russell to the Glynwood team as Director of Regional Food Programs, specializing in grains and staples.  In her role at Glynwood, Russell will work with stakeholders to continue to build markets for emerging crops, as well as work to promote production of grains and staples including the adoption of climate adaptation strategies.

Jessica O’Callahan’s experience as a Glynwood apprentice in 2013 was transformative and solidified her long-time desire to work with plants and food. Jessica had been working for a nonprofit dance company before coming to Glynwood, but had previously done some urban farming in NYC and deep-down knew she wanted to be a farmer. When she found out about Glynwood she knew it would be a tremendous experience. She recalls thinking “this is awesome—Glynwood offers housing, pay, education, a chance to experience both vegetable and livestock production, and is amazingly beautiful. I can’t pass this up.”

Every spring, Glynwood welcomes a new cohort of Farm Apprentices on site. Over the course of the growing season, they learn alongside our farm managers in the fields through a series of carefully designed modules, participate in Mid-Hudson CRAFT site visits to regional farms, and continue their learning in the classroom through a series of farmer training workshops designed by Director of Farmer Training Dave Llewellyn and featuring many regional faculty experts. We are excited to introduce you to our three 2021 Vegetable Apprentices: Ashley Markowitz, Addie McCaul, and Andie Mitchell. 

Spring is off to a strong start here on the farm, both inside the greenhouse and outside. The propagation house is full of seedlings being nurtured, the baby chicks have arrived and are nestled snugly under the brooder, and outdoor beds are being flipped to make way for those new plants. Our spring plant sale allows you to purchase some of our own certified organic seedlings yourself, to take home and enjoy all summer long! Having your own garden can be a great supplement to a CSA share, or regular purchases at the farm store. Plants are selling out fast, so keep checking back, or email twessel@glynwood.org with any questions!

As you likely know, the food system in this country has long prioritized extractive production at the expense of health and wellbeing. Too many people are hungry while food is going to waste, and farmers aren’t compensated for thoughtful land stewardship. COVID-19 exposed tremendous vulnerabilities in our food system: farms lost wholesale buyers, there was an exponential increase in food insecurity, and there was a massive shortage of food for hunger relief organizations. Prior to the pandemic and as it stands now, hunger relief and food-access organizations are often dependent on donations from large agribusiness and the corporate food system. The Food Sovereignty Fund arose from a deep-seated belief that together we can create something better for our community. We are thrilled to announce the 17 farms who will be part of the Food Sovereignty Fund in 2021!

For Glynwood’s Farm Business Incubator participants, winter is an essential period of further learning. Every fall, Glynwood organizes a series of Winter Intensives based on the specific needs and interests of the incoming Incubator cohort. From Farm Law to No-Till growing, Marketing to Cover Cropping, these workshops introduce Incubator farmers to critical concepts and experts in each field. Winter Intensives additionally allow Incubator participants to learn from one another by sharing experiences, seeking and offering advice, and simply spending time together. 

Seed and Thistle Apothecary is an educational resource that supports folks to reclaim their ancestral traditions around plant medicine and healing and that centers the voices of Queer, Trans, gender non-conforming, Black and Indigenous communities. Lara Pacheco, who was a Glynwood apprentice in 2009, started Seed and Thistle Apothecary after years of farming and studying plant medicine. 

With spring approaching, the Glynwood family is growing by a few new full-time, farm-focused team members. Working together with Glynwood's Farm Managers, pictured above -- Nicole Scott (Farm Manager, Livestock) and Jarret Nelson (Farm Manager, Vegetable Operation) -- this intrepid bunch will help ready the way for our incoming cohort of apprentices, implement exciting improvements on the farm and help build relationships with our wonderful community of CSA members and farm store customers.

A sure sign of impending spring is when sheep are shorn. Raising and shearing sheep is one of the oldest agricultural practices; humans have been shearing sheep since around 3500 B.C.E. when we began spinning their wool for clothes. Over these thousands of years, sheep have evolved with the tradition of shearing. Today, millions of sheep are shorn each year. Whether or not the wool is harvested for use, sheep need to be shorn to keep them comfortable in the hot summer months, to prevent illness (overgrown wool can harbor parasites), and to prepare ewes for lambing.

Last week, we lost one of our dearest and most important champions: Penny Perkins Wilson. Penny spent a good deal of her childhood at Glynwood when it was her family’s home, and remained an active and incredibly thoughtful Board member since the family transitioned the property to become home to Glynwood, the non-profit organization. 

Here is a cherished memory from my time spent with her.

There’s been a lot of talk about food security, and why not? Because one goal of the food system is, or should be, making sure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious, well-grown food. That of course isn’t the case.

Which is why the term “food sovereignty” deserves more attention. Food sovereignty is the right for people to determine what they grow and what they eat. It supports local farmers and local eating traditions. It supports soil stewardship rather than exploitation. It supports shortened supply chains. Perhaps above all, it supports local needs and local food systems rather than the global cash crop system.

In the spring of 2017, Glynwood orchestrated the donation and planting of 5,000 cider apple trees (25 varieties in total, including the three named above) to 15 orchards across the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes region, and Western New York. The goal of this initiative was to collect information year on year about how different apple varieties traditional to cider production grow and produce in our state. Participating orchards have collected information each spring on tree growth and mortality, and began collecting measurements on fruit production in the fall of 2019. In the fall of 2020, Glynwood launched a third form of data collection and analysis: fermentation trials.