James Gatherer, Dmitri Galitzine and Emma Kreyche (standing) are on the board of the Binnewater Farm CSA. Kristen MacDonald is the grower for the farm. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

The first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in Rosendale is already growing its organic earthly veggies and treats and is slated to begin passing out shares to shareholders on June 1. The CSA, known as the Binnewater Farm Project, a not-for-profit organization, is located on approximately ten acres of farmland off Binnewater Road. The land is being leased from Legacy Farm Co-housing for one dollar per year for five years. The Binnewater Farm Project Board has hired a grower, Kristen MacDonald, who has had more than ten years of organic farming experience and moved to the area from Vermont to put her skills to work on the organic, sustainable farm.

According to Emma Kreyche, one of the four board members of the CSA, the farm has been in the works for more than a year. “The idea emerged when another farmer, Dan Guenther, suggested to the Legacy Farm Co-housing group that they utilize some of their farmland for a CSA,” she said. “None of them were farmers, so they put a call out, and a group was formed in January of 2011 to explore how we might create a community-based farm.”

Once the lease was established, a core group of volunteers began a yearlong labor of love that included constructing a 2,500-foot fence around the perimeter of the fields, using harvested cedar posts from the property. “The Woodcrest Community was incredibly gracious, and came in with all of their big tractors and plowed our six acres of fields,” she said.

The group worked very hard on infrastructure, purchasing necessary equipment, a hoop-house frame greenhouse from Craigslist, putting in electricity and turning an unused farm with two barns and a tractor into a viable, productive CSA. “We put out an ad for a farmer on the North East Organic Farmers’ Association website, as well as other sites, and we were fortunate to find Kristen. She’s great! She moved to town with her partner, her chickens and her dog, and has been working feverishly to get the farm ready.”

Kreyche said that by June, the first round of summer greens will be ready for shareholders to pick up and enjoy. “For this to work, we need all of the support and shareholders we can get,” she said. “This is a difficult economic time to be starting a farm, but we strongly believed that Rosendale needed a community organic farm, and this is the perfect location.”

Shares cost $800, which would easily supply a family with a weekly supply of vegetables for six months out of the year. “We also decided to do smaller shares for individuals or couples that may not require as much fresh vegetables, and those are $425 a year.”

While the group’s goal is to promote an “ecologically sustainable local food system,” the Binnewater Farm Project is also looking to “increase access for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to healthy food, and to help our members of our community develop new skills and new knowledge related to alternative agriculture, environmental sustainability and food justice. We aim to fulfill this mission through educational initiatives, outreach projects, volunteer programs and the creation and management of a working Community Supported Agricultural farm,” she said.

To that end, the group plans on providing fresh vegetables to local food banks, creating educational programs and more. “Our vision is broad, but right now we need all of the shareholders we can get to make the farm viable so that we can pursue that vision.”

For more information, or to purchase a share, visit the CSA’s website at www.binnewaterfarm.org. ++