by Troy Bishopp
MORRISVILLE, NY — “We are so engaged with getting ‘likes’ that we are losing our real connections in life,” said the passionate teacher, author and small farmer, Anne Phinney of Moose River Farm in Old Forge, NY. Her poignant message headlined the 2nd Annual 2018 Small Farm and Homestead Fair at Morrisville State College, where would-be farmers and their children took in workshops that might birth a new enterprise in agriculture.
In her keynote conversation, Phinney described her journey from the Philadelphia suburbs through her college days and on to a 77-acre, mostly wooded farm, in the Adirondacks with her husband, Rod. “I loved animals as far back as I can remember. This propelled me into a life where I literally couldn’t be without them,” said Phinney.
She chronicled her experience with her first horse, Promise, and how this yearning exposed her to all genres of animal husbandry and doing the hard work necessary to succeed. This passion broadened her life’s work of the senses and away from the screens.
As an elementary teacher in the Old Forge school system, she filled her classroom with animals so that the students could experience caring for living creatures and learn responsibility. It was a lesson she hoped would transfer to their daily lives. In her 30 years of education she sees a disappointing trend happening where computers are trumping common sense learning. She believes and research has indicated, “That working with nature and creating memories stimulates the brain to secrete endorphins and oxytocin, which are much better than being alone scrolling on a device.”
On her farm she runs a Kid’s Farm Day and an Equine Assisted Learning Program to stimulate the senses, give therapy and teach tangible life skills using her diverse legion of horses, dogs, goats, pigs and even an iguana. “The animals and natural surroundings of the Adirondacks teach without words,” said Phinney. The audience appreciated hearing about the connections as they perused the show for ideas into their own ventures.
The Fair, created in 2017, is the brainchild of the Fox Family of Robin Hill Farm in Cazenovia, NY in cooperation with Madison County’s Agriculture Economic Development Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension in partnership with the venue host, Morrisville State College. This year’s event showcased 33 agriculture businesses, organizations and individual proprietors who featured everything from bees to tractors.
Families learned about raising poultry, woodlot stewardship, food preservation, aquaponics, beef production, fencing, compost management, beekeeping, value-added products and starting a farm business. This extensive array of workshops and demonstrations provided guests with a glimpse into the whys and hows of choosing a small farm, child-friendly enterprise. “The show was created to provide a hands-on, intimate way of networking with knowledge-rich practitioners and local businesses. It’s been exciting to stimulate agriculture one family or homestead at a time,” said Josh Fox.
For more information contact Jenn Farwell, Madison Co. Agricultural Economic Development Specialist at 315.684.3001 Ext. 126.