Posted by: zhak39 | September 25, 2005

Poughkeepsie Farm Project

While my dear friend posted this for me on her blog earlier this year, I wanted to share it here also. Last summer the kids and I took our yearly sojourn up the coast and I wanted to let you know about a project in the Hudson Valley.

Poughkeepsie NY is not a pretty town. Like many urban areas, it is in a constant state of decay and renewal. While Vassar College is certainly a lovely place, the surrounding neighborhood has gone through the usual flux of affluence and poverty. A five block walk in any direction repetitively demonstrates the ‘two Americas.’

The first week in July my sister drove me through some grubby streets then hooked onto a narrow dirt and gravel drive into a stand of trees. Beyond a bend there were a couple of tiny buildings–and seven acres of thriving fields. Tucked between city streets, Vassar College, and office parks is the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. On land leased from that college, a group of people devoted toward a just and sustainable food system for the Mid-Hudson Valley have reawakened farmland not only for the use of members but to provide fresh and local produce for local soup kitchens and shelters and as an experiential learning arena for students and ommunity members.

My children headed for the strawberry fields where they turned over little leaves to find tiny sparkling sweet berries–nothing like the fat fruit we see in markets (the ones that emphasize the ‘straw’ not the berry). A local baker set up his goodies on a plank under the spreading canopy of a maple tree just before the distribution building, a cool cave of brick with barely room to walk through the crates and shelves stuffed with greens, garlic tops, zucchini, broccoli. They were still in the late spring season–salads, young and mature greens, peas, and the beginning of cucumbers and squashes. The ten pound weekly allotment is ample for my siter’s family of four.

A few steps out of the doorway brings you to the herb garden which is protected by chicken wire and a woven vine fence. Paths separate the different beds with bee balm brightening the entrance. The oregano was so pungent you could find it in the dark and the basil! In the center is a small gazebo-meditation area built by members.

It was so beautiful that I cried.

If you are in Upstate New York up until November, I encourage you to stop by. The people, of course, are wonderful and the project is inspiring.



  1. Thank you, Jac. A beautiful piece about a place that fills my heart whenever I’m there!

  2. Thank you for taking us there.

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