November Newsletter

Hello, Friends of Better Farm!

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away—and now is a perfect time to reflect on all the things we're grateful for.

Practicing the act of gratitude is a great way to reduce the negativity we're overloaded with in our daily lives. If we insist on acknowledging what we appreciate and feel thankful for, we have less room in our minds for the mustn'ts, don'ts, shouldn'ts, impossibles, won'ts, and never haves. Instead of spending so much time fretting about what we don't have, gratitude forces us into the here and the now with all the gifts we already possess.

There are so many people you know who go out of their way on a daily basis to show kindness to strangers, volunteer in their communities, do something to help the environment, or just take the time to pick up the phone or offer you their ear. People like you! Let's all promise to take some time out this month to thank all those silent heroes in every community who do this often-invisible, vital work that brings us all a little bit closer together.

To that end: I am so grateful to all of you for being a part of the "better" mission! As I practice this reflection of gratitude, I can't help but focus on what a difference your volunteer work, attention, encouragement and involvement have meant for Better Farm, betterArts, the Redwood community, the environment, and each individual who has stepped foot on this property. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

As always, check in at our blog to follow all of Better Farm's daily adventures.
Until next time, better be. And, thanks.

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm

News: All the Buzz At Better Farm
  • Better Farm to be Featured in Ways of Living Documentary—We mentioned last month that Better Farm is included in a new documentary coming out this winter called Ways of Living. The wonderful ladies making that project have created an indiegogo campaign to raise production costs for the flim. Click here to find out more and chart their progress!
  • Better Farm's Partnership with Airbnb brings Tourism, Sustainability to Redwood—Better Farm since March has hosted more than 60 reservations through Airbnb, furthering the farm's mission of sustainable living—and travel. Airbnb, which offers 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities  of room-shares or entire homes available for a night, week, or longer, recently released its first environmental impact study on the sustainability of home sharing. Turns out, Airbnb guests in North America use a full 63-percent less energy than hotel guests. That's enough to power 19,000 homes for an entire year.
  • BetterArts Helps at Royal Fall FaireBetterArts last month participated in Sackets Harbor PTO's Royal Fall Faire at Sackets Central School in order to provide children with an arts 'n' crafts station that included leaf printing, decorating pumpkins, and face painting. Check out pictures from the event here.
  • Better Farm Educates on Health at Wellness Fair—Better Farm set up an information booth at Indian River Central School's annual wellness fair. Students and parents were informed on community organizations promoting health and wellness. The "better" crew passed out information, talked about local food sources, and shared some banana apple bread hot off the barbecue grill.
  • BetterArts Board Member Opens New Gallery—Kari Zelson Robertson has opened a new gallery showcasing her original pottery creations in Rutland Center at 28279 Route 126, about 3.5 miles east of Watertown. Robertson's pieces range from vases and mugs to wall hangings and wine holders. Click here for more information.

Better Radio Updates!

Volunteers got together in October to install Better Radio's tower, which will broadcast in 2015 from WBTS 88.5 FM. Ham radio operator Walter Dutcher out of Rochester, N.Y., shared his extensive knowledge of radio frequencies and operating procedures which allowed the newly formed Better Radio committee to experiment with signal strength and to get a better idea of how this project will work. The group was pleased to discover the signal strength is more than expected: about 20 miles in every direction. For the next several months, we'll be purchasing equipment, recording music, compiling segments and shows, and getting ready for our tentative on-air date of June 20, 2015! To get involved, email


Upcoming Events

Here's a quick rundown of upcoming events. For more information, email or click here.
  • Nov. 7 —The 66th Annual Juried Fine Art Show, put on by the North Country Arts Council, is slated from 5:30-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7 at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown. This year's show features work by betterArts board members, Better Farm staff, and former betterArts residents. Click here for more information.
  • Nov. 13 —Better Farm's annual (Early) Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner Party is slated for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17 at Better Farm in Redwood. To RSVP, email
  • Dec. 8—Nicole Caldwell guest lectures at Jefferson Community College to Intro to Business students, 12:20-1 p.m.
  • December Date TBD— Hospice of Watertown Christmas party with kids
  • December Date TBD—We're kicking off our monthly movie nights this December. On the agenda are educational flicks dirt!, Fed Up, Food Inc., and many more. To sign up, email

Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program

Better Farm’s Sustainability Education Program was created to offer individuals an immersive, introductory crash-course in sustainability initiatives. Those enrolled in the program receive a hands-on education in a myriad of seasonal topics related to sustainability and environmental issues. Instead of a traditional working farm with acres upon acres of one or a few different crops, Better Farm has many gardens demonstrating different styles of small-scale farming and stressing the need for diversity of crops instead of mono cultures. Better Farm equips students with a variety of solutions to real-world agricultural issues, including small spaces, temperamental soils, pests, and climate change. The aquaponics, hydroponics, layered gardens, fruit orchard, and forests on the property are extremely varied so students coming from all over the world will learn real-world tools that can be applied back home. The Sustainability Education Program runs in one- to three-month intervals year-round. Those attending receive daily assignments and chores all related to sustainability initiatives and organic farming, as well as the opportunity to design and implement projects on their own. Upon completion of all units and responsibilities, participants will receive a certificate from Better Farm. College students may additionally receive course credit for completion of Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program. To learn more and to apply, visit


betterArts Residency Program

betterArts offers a unique opportunity to artists, writers, performers, and musicians with a residency program based out of Better Farm. Residencies are designed to offer artists of every discipline space and time to work on specific projects; whether a series of paintings, a composition, book, set of sculptures, or album. A private room, 24/7 access to a fully stocked communal kitchen, linens and towels, WiFi, parking, and round-the-clock access to the Art Barn are all included in a low stipend required of all residents. betterArts residents are encouraged to interact and participate in the goings-on around the property, and to help out with chores and farm-related responsibilities between three and five hours each week. These responsibilities may include working in the gardens, participating in arts-related community outreach projects, helping with house chores, cooking, or assisting with other odd jobs. At the conclusion of each residency, an artist is required to present his or her work to the public in a gallery show, reading, performance, or via some other appropriate medium. Residencies are for two weeks, three weeks, one month, or two-month periods. Basic facilities at Better Farm will be provided; but betterArts residents are expected  to provide the majority of materials and equipment they would need for the production of their work. For more information about the betterArts Residency Program and to download the application, click here.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.