By Great Performances
We’re delighted to introduce Jon Ronsani as our new farmer at Katchkie Farm, our 60-acre organic farm in Columbia County, NY. A New York native, Jon brings nearly 15 years of Hudson Valley farming experience to Katchkie, including the stewardship of his own 45-acre Lineage Farm from 2011 to 2017.
“Jon’s love of farming is palpable and his background in small scale produce-oriented farming is the perfect fit for Katchkie,” notes Liz Neumark, the founder and CEO of Great Performances, who bought the then unfarmed land in 2006 and has been “growing” a farm on it ever since. “His experience is also a great fit for The Sylvia Center, whose teaching garden on the farm he will oversee. We look forward to Jon further integrating the farm’s yield into Great Performances’ kitchens by working closely with the culinary team to tailor the farm’s production to their always evolving menus.”*
About taking over the helm of Katchkie Farm, Ronsani enthuses, “It’s very gratifying to be working with someone like Liz, who is so emotionally invested in farming, and with the people at Great Performances in general, who are so passionate about what they do.”
A graduate of Bard College, Jon studied music performance with the goal of being a musician. After graduating from college, Jon Ronsani volunteered for Hudson, NY’s Threshold Farm’s CSA program where he discovered that his lifelong love of food gave him a deep-seated connection to farming. When his fellow volunteers returned to school that autumn, he was offered a full-time farming job that provided him with a diverse journeyman’s education in the business of farming from mechanics and marketing to soil nutrition and dealing with customers.
He started a CSA at his Lineage Farm, which he folded into Liberty Farm’s business when he joined that operation in the interests of more stability for his growing family in 2017. He and his wife, Jen, who is his farming partner, are the parents of two young boys.
Putting The Farm to Sleep
By Bob Walker and Kristy King
AS THE GROWING SEASON COMES TO AN END AT KATCHKIE FARM, TRACTORS ARE PARKED IN THE SAME PLACE FOR DAYS.
Bare trees surround us, the last of our vegetables have been harvested, the cover crops are planted and equipment is cleaned. Not only will the temperature drop and the landscape change, but so will the tasks and thoughts. It’s a shift to a different lifestyle; dirt and diesel will be replaced with computers, spreadsheets, repair manuals and welding sparks.
Now the work moves indoors by reviewing crop records- what worked, what didn’t. Creating parts lists – what needs to be repaired or replaced, thoughts of what or how to improve systems like planting & harvesting methods or pest management, searching for new varieties, and attending workshops.
It’s also a time to take a walk without the purpose of making the TO DO list.
Winter is a farm’s healing season, when the influences of animal, plant and mineral combine in a balancing rhythm of expansion and contraction, soaking up earth energy and preparing to burst forth at the first hint of lengthening days.
By Sarah Prawl & Zach Reif
BREAKING NEWS: THE SENATE PASSES ITS VERSION OF THE FARM BILL!
WHAT IS THE FARM BILL?
The farm bill is an important legislative tool focused on agriculture and food policy and is passed every 4-5 years.
Historically, the first farm bill was passed in 1933, as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, as a way to help farmers during the Great Depression.
The most recent farm bill was passed in 2014, containing 12 titles, and will expire on September 30th, 2018.
WHAT IS THE FARM BILL PROCESS?
The process begins in the House Agriculture Committee, with subcommittees responsible for the content in the sections of the farm bill known as “titles”.
Once the House passes a version of the bill it is sent to the Senate Agriculture Committee. Once the Senate passes their version, both versions are sent to the Conference Committee. Once passed by the Conference Committee, the bill then goes back to the House and Senate floors in an effort to hash out any differences.
Finally, once the House and Senate have reached an agreement, the final version of the bill is sent to the President for his signature. Once it is signed, the bill becomes a law.
As of June 28, 2018, both the House and Senate have passed their versions of the farm bill.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAJOR PROGRAMS AFFECTED IN THE FARM BILL?
SNAP (Formerly known as Food Stamps): The House Version of the bill looks to require all able-bodied adults without dependents (ages 18-59) to obtain a part-time job within one month of receiving SNAP benefits, or enroll in a job-training program for at least 20 hours a week. The Senate version of the bill was just passed without any major changes, marking a significant difference between the House and Senate versions.
Rural Development: The bill looks to increase funding for rural economic development, including the provision of internet service to rural areas and the creation of new jobs.
Crop Insurance: Currently, the government pays about 62% of farmers’ crop insurance premiums. The House version looks to reduce federal subsidies for these premiums, while the Senate version would renew subsidies for farmers and crop insurance companies.
Commodities: The House version maintains prices at the 2014 farm bill level. The Senate version would ultimately increase payments for corn and soybean producers.
To learn more, visit https://agriculture.house.gov/farmbill/