Three Exciting, Money-Making Opportunities For Small Farms

Three Exciting, Money-Making Opportunities For Small Farms

It’s no secret that running a farm is hard work. It a very physical job that involves long hours working in both good and inclement weather conditions. From tending to crops to feeding cattle, countless tasks need to be completed each day. Despite what many may think, the pay that farmers receive does not always reflect the hard work they put in. This can leave many of them feeling under appreciated and tempted to try a different career instead. However, there are ways that even the smallest of farms can maximize their profits. So to keep the lifestyle you adore and to make more money from your farm, consider these exciting ideas.

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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 recently released its first environmental impact study on the sustainability of home sharing—which is what the company is all about—and found that 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.

Airbnb was founded in 2008 and allows people to search for alternative lodging to cookie-cutter hotel rooms. The company has more than 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries, largely comprised of room-shares or entire homes available for a night, week, or longer. Hammocks, private castles or islands, or more run-of-the-mill city apartments and bungalows are all listed on the site. Users must register and create a personal online profile before making a booking. Each property is associated with a host whose profile includes recommendations by other users, reviews by previous guests, as well as a response rating and private messaging system.

Here are some more highlights from the study:
  • In one year alone, Airbnb guests in North America saved the equivalent of 270 Olympic-sized pools of water while avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 33,000 cars on North American roads.
  • Airbnb hosts also tend to engage in sustainable practices. Nearly 83% of Airbnb hosts in North America report owning at least one energy efficient appliance at their property.
  • In North America, 95% of Airbnb hosts say they recycle at least one item type at their property; 94% of guests report that they recycle when possible.
  • When staying at an Airbnb, guests are 10-15% more likely to use public transportation, walk or bicycle as their primary mode of transportation than if they had stayed at a hotel.

Check out our listing on Airbnb here.
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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.

Brave the Winter With Us!

Curious about what this place is all about? Looking for an inexpensive, fun way to spend your winter?

We have three private bedrooms available for rent at Better Farm through May 31 for $450/month.

Rent includes all utilities, wireless Internet, parking, heat and hot water, and incidentals such as toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, etc. Bedrooms are also available furnished. Your rent covers your private bedroom, shared used of three bathrooms, two kitchens, and two common areas. Participation in Better Farm's communal food program and use of studio space in the Art Barn across the street available for an additional stipend.

Washing machine on-site, large-screen TV (no cable, but hooked up to DVD player), communal computer available for use by all residents.

Two dogs, three chickens, and a bunch of fish already live here, so please no pets! Please contact us at info@betterfarm.org with any questions or to schedule a visit.

Please note this rental program is for temporary winter lodging only, and not part of our sustainability internship or artist residency programs.
Comment

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.

New Local Foods Grant Links B&Bs, Area Agriculture


Steve Miller, senior executive chef of Cornell University's Cornell Dining, recently outlined the new grant for me, which is designed to increase the number of B&Bs offering locally produced food and agricultural products in meals served to their guests, carrying shelf-stable local products such as jams, maple syrup and sauces, and to measure the economic impact of producers of sales made through this specialized marketing channel.

Funds, Miller said, will be used to organize regional opportunities for B&B owners to meet local producers and sample their products. "Part of the project will be to identify these two groups and make it easier for them to access each other's products and services," he said. The grant doesn't send funds directly to individual B&B operators or farmers, but rather works with producer organizations such as beef producers, NOFA-NY, maple producers, small-scale food processors, and B&B owners as a group.

On the other end, farmers who offer tours and other opportunities for tourists will be encouraged to work closely with B&B owners. Regional and statewide promotions will encourage consumers to partake in the foods offered by New York-based producers and B&Bs.

Producer organizations and B&B owners are encouraged to participate in the project, which starts this fall and runs two years.

Where do we sign?

For more information about this grant, e-mail Steve Miller at sgm6@cornell.edu or Jonathan Thomson at jonathan.thomson@agmkt.state.ny.us.
Comment

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.

For the Birds: Painter-in-residence leaves her mark on the birdhouse

Erica Hauser is in the last week of her betterArts residency at Better Farm. During her time here, in addition to creating many wonderful paintings, culinary delights, and forming close-knit relationships with the crew here, she's also been calling Better Farm's human-scale "Birdhouse" home. In the last week or so, she set about making that home a little cozier by painting the inside walls, then coming up with a sweet four-wall mural of—what else? Birds!

Feast your eyes:




 Here's what she had to say about the process:
I just painted the inside of the birdhouse. I was the first to perch here and feel honored to be able to leave my mark as a contribution to the Farm. Part of it is inspired by a bird mural I did last year, but it (and the other elements) felt right for the space, and I was able to use paint I found around. Today I'm finishing a small self-image in oil using a photo my friend took. Both aspects are outside my realm of comfort, which is why I need to do it even as it evokes some strange feelings. I used to say that the objects and places I paint express something about myself, too. There's still plenty of truth to this but it's starting to feel vaguely disingenuous, as if something inside is trying to emerge.

Big thanks to Erica for leaving us this extremely beautiful piece of art! We're excited to share it with all future visitors to Better Farm.

To learn more about Erica Hauser's work or to commission a piece, click here.

Building a Better Birdhouse

We broke ground on Better Farm's second outbuilding last September during a memorial celebration for two dear old friends of mine, Em Doran and Emily Richardson. The memorial, coined "A Better Celebration", served as a launching point for future foundation and scholarship support for young women; and those in attendance at the event helped us at Better Farm out with several projects.

Blueberry bushes were planted, doors were painted (part of an ongoing art series led by artist-in-residence Mike Brown), and we started the second outbuilding, which we're calling the Birdhouse for very obvious reasons. The design was found by Corinne online, and we all fell in love:
The building is obviously amazing, but there were a few kinks we foresaw applying this model to the North Country: keeping the bugs out, having more space, and frost heave. This building was intended from the start to house artists-in-residence at Better Farm. So, we tweaked the design a bit to make it an 8'x10' building, allowed for four stilts rising up out of the ground, and included a proper door and window. Here are photos from the memorial party last September, when we dug holes and laid the groundwork:






Truly a group effort! After the party, several Better Farmers teamed up again with Craig and Teresa Rice and Jody Szepeski to get three of the four walls up and the roof framed.
And there she sat, as the cold winds came and we were forced indoors to endure the particularly cold North Country winter. As soon as the snow melted, it was back to work. A new crew came onto the job; namely, Joel Zimmer and Mark Huyser. Mark built the steps and put the door on (reclaimed from renovations at the Riveredge Hotel), Scotty Tummons came in to lay the roof down, and then Joel and Mark finished the edging, cut out the window David Garlock helped to draw, insulated and sheetrocked the walls, and (maybe most importantly) put the perch on. And, at long last, the birdhouse is just about finished:

See the full album here.

Many thanks to the entire Better Celebration crew, Craig Rice for getting the project planned and executed so skillfully, Redwood Lumber for meeting our demands for wood, David Garlock for donating the roof, Mark Huyser, Joel Zimmer, and Scotty Tummons for doing such nice work, and Erica Hauser for being the first person to call this birdhouse home.
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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.

S-s-s-studio




by Erica Hauser
 
 


This morning I awoke feeling chirpy after my first night sleeping in the birdhouse. I'd slept in the main house the first few nights as it was unexpectedly chilly, but I snuggled under a comforter and fell asleep while looking at the stars through the round window. Shortly after the sun rose I lay in bed listening to the birds singing all around me. Coming up on the longest day of the year, the light stretches leisurely from dawn to dusk like an ear-to-ear grin.

After a few hours of painting, I weeded a couple rows in the garden and planted some brussels sprouts. I decided this'd be my dinner-making day, so I am preparing a baked-bean-&-corn dish, brown rice with red pepper and just-picked chives, and the kale harvested from the garden today. I'm often more of a side-dish-&-dessert-maker, so that's how it goes. Afterwards it will still be light enough to work in the barn a bit longer. I haven't posted photos because I've been working on a few things at once, taking advantage of being able to spread all my stuff out and get messy, it's what I've always wanted to do, and makes me long to rent a separate studio for myself upon my return. That likely won't be possible for a while, though I will have to find some place to use for Beacon Open Studios in late September.

While writing this paragraph I've shooed the big snake away twice already, it seems to like my canvases, but maybe I'm projecting. I guess we'll just have to share the space.

Photos: The license plate is an installation piece I just did. Below that is the lovely Better bus, part of the history of the farm, not currently operational but perhaps soon. Then we have my snake pal and the birdhouse. 

For more information about the betterArts residency program, click here.
Comment

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.

Frogs & Whippoorwills

by Joetta Maue


views from the back deck.
Oh make me blush... Nicole of Better Farm wrote a very sweet and very kind post about me introducing me to the community. Read it here.

my cozy room- already a mess from the toddler in tow.

the view from my bed... this morning I awoke to a robin's song and the colors of a blue jay. just a little different then home.

I arrived just before the sun went down last night... To a sweet house with a massive collection of books, 3 dogs, a cozy room, frogs and whippoorwills. Other then missing my C immensely I think this will be very very good.

Originally posted on Joetta's blog.
Comment

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.

Guest Room Gets Gussied Up


This spare guest room had a bad case of the blahs, from uninspired details to drab walls to cobbed-together curtain rods. Finally getting to enjoy the afterglow of Better Farm's distinctly unglamorous first round of renovations (insulation, sheet rock and dry wall, dumpster hauls, rewiring, wood stove installation, etc.), I can at last begin the significantly more fun job of interior design.

While we've had great success with reappropriating certain items for updates around the Farm, this room was going to require a few new things—albeit with really good deals—namely:


That put us well-within budget, with the whole overhaul running us less than $250. Here are a few more before shots:


And now, drum roll please...
Curtains and black-and-white print courtesy of Laura Caldwell; paper-cutting of Better Farm grass courtesy of Mira Elwell; vases courtesy of Laura Caldwell; lights left by previous tenant and stocked with eco-friendly, energy-efficient bulbs.

Cabinet reclaimed from dumpster; nest chair left by previous tenants.
Steamer trunk courtesy of Laura Caldwell; elephant art courtesy of Bob Bowser; nest chair left by previous tenants.

For information about lodging at Better Farm, click here .

Inspiration Station: Intern barracks

While waiting at the vet's office in Watertown to get Kobayashi Maru and Han Solo their annual checkups, I flipped through a recent issue of Country Living and found these amazing photos of a ski dorm. The concept is a perfect solution for how best to accommodate our ever-growing summer stable of interns at Better Farm.

Here are some crucial elements from space pictured above:
  • Four sets of wooden bunk beds that have elements of privacy, thanks to floor-to-ceiling drapes that can be drawn when it's time for lights-out
  • Four of the bunks have individual portal windows with outside views
  • Several trees that came down for construction were reintegrated as sculptural elements
  • Movable upholstered cubes and drop-leaf table can be reconfigured as needed for group activities, reading, or "family" card or board games
Neutral tones and streamlined lines make this simple space dramatic and cozy. The few lighting elements could easily be run off a small solar panel or wind turbine (or could conversely even be small lanterns or wall sconces).

Now check out this dorm-style bathroom, from the same page (could be translated into a structure adjoined or next to the barracks housing; essentially an outhouse on steroids):
Elements I'm attracted to here include:
  • Several shower stalls, each equipped with rainwater shower heads (could be fed by a rainwater catchment system with graywater runoff)
  • Several sink vessels to accommodate multi, simultaneous use
  • Plenty of cubby space for storage
  • Toilet stall
  • Simplistic, industrial lighting
Not sure if this construction project is in the cards for this summer, but it's an inevitability down the road so the interns can have their own private cabin away from home to call their own.

Memorial Celebration Jump-Starts Three Projects: Part I, 'The Birdhouse'

The weekend of September 11 marked a memorial celebration for Em Doran and Emily Richardson, two women killed in a 2005 car accident who've inspired a burgeoning foundation designed to empower young artists in the disciplines of writing and photography.

The memorial, coined "A Better Celebration," was held at and in conjunction with Better Farm. Festivities included the inception of three projects on the property: the Birdhouse, the Doors, and a blueberry patch.

Part I: The Birdhouse
As part of an ongoing row of alternative structures next to the library, attendees at a Better Celebration and the folks living at Better Farm were interested in constructing a treehouse-type structure alongside the recently completed greenhouse. Corinne found a cool design online of a tree fort called the Stockholm House:
Trouble was, we were concerned about the effects of frost heave on the single support beam; and we wanted the structure bigger (roughly 8 x 10) in order for it to be a truly livable space. So, we tweaked the design a bit to allow for four stilts rising up out of the ground. At the party, led by our guru-about-town Craig, guests cleared brush and dug holes for the 4 x 4's:

Once the holes were in place, we stuck four 4x4s into them to create a lofted feel for our human-size birdhouse.

Next up was the base and flooring...


Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the finished product!


Many thanks to Redwood Lumber for supplying us with materials on such short notice! Special acknowledgments to Craig for leading the group, and Jody and Theresa for lending such big hands to the job. See more photos from A Better Celebration here.

Upstairs Bedroom Ditches the Blues

Once upon a time, there was a young boy who got to design his very own bedroom.
Only problem was, that little boy moved out and left Better Farm his bright blue walls. It was time for a little updating; though the room itself is in very good structural shape. That is, except for the closet:
The first thing we did was put up a wall between the closet and the room next door. Then we reinsulated, and installed a shelf and clothes rack. Many thanks to Fred Ciliberti for getting that sorted!

Next up was the room color. We went with basic white to give the room a clean jump-start. Then we brought in Clayton "Ikea" Carlson, who had a killer furniture collection that is all clean lines and airy patterns. The result? Well, you might not recognize the space...
 
Amazing what a fresh coat of eco-friendly paint can do.

Hang in There

If you live in a place like Better Farm, you likely find yourself saddled with a bunch of wonderful guests on very short notice who need places to lay their heads. Extra rooms and fold-out couches are sweet, but sometimes you have more bodies than beds and need a real quick fix.

That's where hammocks come in. They're multi-functional (lazing around outside on a beautiful spring or summer day, sleeping, cuddling, even sitting upright in hammock chairs

to read books); they fold up and can be stored extremely easily; and they're lightweight (so you can hang them outside, then bring them inside at night to sleep).

They also won't leave you broke:

  can be achieved quickly and for less than $10. If you're not planning to bring your hammock inside, then you can spring for outdoor hammocks; which are durable, weatherproof, and will last for years. (Just remember to bring them in at the end of the season!)

If you've got the time—and a lot of patience—you can weave your own spectacular rope hammock or net hammock. You can use thin or thick rope, come up with your own color pallette, and have a portable bed the next time you're camping in Florida, romping along South America's coastline, or stopping in for an impromptu overnight at Better Farm.

If you're planning to hang a hammock or two inside when your home is at full capacity, please please please be sure to locate studs in your wall against which to affix hooks for the hammock's ends. This will avoid nasty damage to your living space, and potentially catastrophic injuries if you're floating in the air above anything that might hurt you on impact should you suddenly drop earthward. The hooks can stay in the wall all the time to take out future guess work, and will hardly be noticeable if you place them in clever spots. Happy hanging!

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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.