Land, Capital, and Apples: 40 Years in the Local Farming Movement

Elizabeth Ryan crossed the boundaries between activism and agriculture years before the New York Times would have published an article on young farmers or hosted a discussion debating labor in agriculture.  A founder of the now ubiquitousand delightful Union Square Market, Ryan’s attachment to the questions about what we eat, where it comes from, and how it gets to us have formed the foundation of her life’s work.

Ryan lives an works on her farm, Breezy Hill Orchard, in upstate New York.  The farm was among the first to be certified organic in the state.  Now thirty years old under Ryan’s direction, the farm is thriving example of potential futures in agriculture.  Multiple varieties of apples grow on the orchard, as well as numerous other types of fruit.  Support for local economies and fair labor are equally important as organic practices.  Combined, these factors help to envision alternatives to the current paradigm of industrial production.

Agriculture runs in Ryan’s blood.  She comes from a long line of farmers, but, unlike many of her generation, continued the family tradition of land stewardship.  Her work has brought many of the current questions around food to the attention of city dwellers.  Stands abundant with apples are hard to miss, even while dashing for a train.  Greenmarkets in New York have provided the space to foster relationships between rural producers and urban consumers in vitally important ways.  Ryan played a crucial role in creating the relationships that are currently flourishing and opening the dialogues that now frequent the front pages of newspapers around the world.

Come to the Pillow Room on Monday, April 9 (tomorrow!) at 5:30pm to hear Ryan discuss local farming, from her first experiences to the situation now.  You can also pay a visit to Breezy Hill Orchards at the Union Square Greenmarket every Wednesday and Saturday (their apples are delicious).

Land, Capital, and Apples-40 Years in the Local Farming Movement: A Founding Mother Speaks Out is sponsored by the Barbara B. and Bertram J. Cohn Chair in Environmental Studies, the Marilyn Simpson Trust, and the Office of the Dean of the College.


Image credits: Google Images

Nina Sparling (Editor, “What’s Up”) is a bi-coastal aspiring bread baker frustrated with the current food system. Originally from Berkeley, she moved to New York, complaining most of the way, until she found the Met and figured out the subway (but still has serious envy for Bay Area vegetables). Currently a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence, Nina studies languages, political ecology, and geography and tries to figure out how they all relate.

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