Frith prunes and promotes farm conservation
By Mary Ann Ebner
Spring thaw delivers nature’s promises on the farm with melting snow, muddy fields and little lambs. Glynwood President Kathleen Frith couldn’t be happier sloshing along muddy farm trails from home to office. Since assuming the organization’s presidency last August, Frith has planted herself not only as the organization’s top leader but as a full-time resident at Glynwood. And as springtime arrives, the chickens may show surprise when they realize they’re not the first ones up on the farm.
When it comes to working the land at the Hudson Valley agricultural property, the Glynwood team has renewed a commitment to farming’s sustainable future by nurturing seedlings, mulching, harvesting and carrying out the heavy tasks that farming demands. Frith boasts complete trust in the experienced farmers who share their expertise and energy to fulfill Glynwood’s organizational mission to preserve farming. Saving the farm stretches far beyond the local nonprofit’s pastures, and Glynwood is digging in deeper than ever to make a difference in the effort to strengthen farm communities and promote a sustainable food system.
“I live onsite,” Frith said. “I wanted to live here, and the site is incredibly unique. It’s a sustainable working farm, and there’s a sense of renewal at Glynwood built on the past 17 years of the organization. We want to build on that success, and a direction we’re going to take is to really open up Glynwood.”
Recently named Sustainable Business of the Year by the Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce, Glynwood Farm demonstrates a commitment to social and environmental advancement through the realization of its sustainable agricultural mission. Glynwood leaders acknowledge that a veil of mystery has at times clouded efforts to heighten awareness of its mission. The location of the property, 225-plus acres just east of Cold Spring, represents one of its greatest assets, but accessibility has hindered visibility. New plans are springing up at Glynwood though, and it’s the intention of the farming team to educate as many people as possible to connect communities about farming and food.
“We want to sustain Glynwood’s mission, which we think is better for the economy, health and the environment,” Frith said. “We’re making great strides in making what we’re doing more visible.”
During the 2013 peak season, Glynwood’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program will be able to accommodate more households, while additional endeavors include an expansion of farming workshops offered to the public, school-based sustainability programs, an enhanced farm store, and culinary educational opportunities with farming in mind. Glynwood will also welcome additional staff members, with new hire Chef Jason Wood already making himself at home as culinary director.
“This is a working farm, and we’re building a working kitchen,” Frith said. “We’ve hired Jason Wood to help farmers with the culinary kitchen and to help bridge divides regionally. His role here is much larger than just cooking. When people come to Glynwood, they’ll see what a working farm looks like and what its food tastes like.”
Wood, who served as chef at Tavern at the Highlands Country Club before departing last July, completed the culinary training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York and worked in restaurants in Manhattan, the Catskills and Washington, D.C.
“I’ve worked directly with farmers before,” Wood said, “but now I’m on a farm and having a conversation. I’m giving a culinary perspective to things that they do.”
Food represents Wood’s art, and a rewarding force of working in restaurants provided his outlet to perform that art. Though Wood will be fully immersed in conversation with farmers, working on innovative culinary education programs for the public, and producing products for Glynwood’s farm store, he’ll also be cooking and sharing what Glynwood grows and raises.
“Jason is going to be at our CSA pick-ups doing cooking demonstrations,” Frith said. “He’ll be using Glynwood products raised in our pastures and grown in our fields. We’re also very excited about our farm dinner series. Those dinners will be very diverse in their offerings, from fine dining to family-style.”
Frith envisions the dinner series as intimate gatherings around the farmhouse table, ranging from 15 to 25 people for their initial events. Wood, a Garrison resident, has already revealed his passion and innovative perspective on the farm dinner series. He’s ramped up his culinary commitment of pasture-to-plate with the capacity to produce a broad array of healthy cuisine using fresh ingredients sourced onsite. Glynwood recently hosted its first farm dinner series concept for 15 guests. Wood, with a foundation in plant-based culinary arts, has also gained an appreciation for animal husbandry and promotes a no-waste kitchen. In the spirit of harmony, he invited chef Teddy Diggs, currently creating fine cuisine with locally sourced bounty on Martha’s Vineyard, to work with him on the first farm series dinner.
“Teddy and I worked under a chef in D.C.,” Wood said. “With each one of the dinners, I’m going to collaborate with another chef. We did this first dinner in the main house kitchen, using the living room for the dinner.”
For the initial dinner, Wood focused on Glynwood’s own pasture-raised goat, and the meal that he created with Diggs in pop-up restaurant style may have established a new level of farmhouse ambition. The farmhouse kitchen turned out a fine-dining feast studded with impeccable courses featuring Glynwood chicken liver pâté, goat meatballs with gnocchi, soft Glynwood eggs, house-cured bacon, and goat cheese panna cotta prepared with local honey, crushed pistachios and rosemary salt.
“I got to collaborate with an old friend,” Wood said. “We were able to bring a group of people together and had good conversation and good food. I’m inspired and looking forward to our new programming.”
Largely supported through board contributions, endowment funds and foundation support, Glynwood seeks individual contributions and generates a small percentage of income from programs. As programming opportunities evolve for the local nonprofit, Glynwood will continue to generate revenues from events held onsite including workshops, the farm store and the CSA program.
The CSA program, which spans a 24-week distribution cycle, costs $675 for a season’s worth of shares. Dave Llewellyn, director of farmer training, said that even though the farm will be able to accommodate more households this year, he anticipates that share spots will sell out before the CSA season begins in late May.
“If people act quickly, they should still be able to get a share,” Llewellyn said. “CSA members can pick up their shares on Tuesdays (3 – 6 p.m.), with a 24-hour grace period when they can come and use self service.”
If community residents aren’t able to commit to a seasonal CSA supply of naturally grown vegetables, they can still purchase farm products at Glynwood’s farm store. Frith said that the farm will offer more value-added products at the store, with specialty items ranging from fresh bacon to pickled products created by Wood in the farmhouse kitchen.
Familiar family programs like the shearing of sheep and Harvest Celebration will continue in 2013, but Glynwood will consolidate and dissolve portions of their research endeavors and educational curriculum to further the mission to revive farming for local farmers and consumers, revitalizing farm communities and creating greater access to healthy fresh food.
“We’re building a robust team that’s based here,” Frith said. “It’s the whole mission of Glynwood to work hand-in-hand with the community, for economic growth and human health. What an incredible resource we have in the Hudson Valley to preserve. Glynwood wants to help people understand that and not to be swayed to develop agricultural holdings. We’re creating pride around a sense of place.”
President: Kathleen Frith
Chairman: Chip Allemann
Number of employees: 17 (plus four individuals to join staff this spring)
Farm apprentices: 2 livestock, 3 CSA
Operating Expenses for Fiscal Year ending Dec. 31, 2011: $2.75 million
Operating Expenses for Fiscal Year ending Dec. 31, 2010: $2.24 million
Total Assets for Fiscal Year ending Dec. 31, 2011: $19,443,705
Total Assets for Fiscal Year ending Dec. 31, 2010: $19,859,372
Acreage: 225-plus acres
Photos by M.A. Ebner