June 2015 Newsletter

Better Farm News - June 2015:

• Better Festival this Saturday!
• News: All the Latest Buzz Around the Farm
• This Month's Cast of Characters
• Upcoming Events


Hello, Friends of Better Farm!


May and June are easily the busiest two months at Better Farm, as we get the grounds ready for summer, plant and deeply mulch the gardens, expand our landscape design, and this year prepare for Saturday's Better Festival—followed the next weekend by a wedding!

This has been a landmark year for Better Farm; fitting, since it was 45 years ago that our founder Steve Caldwell signed paperwork turning a quiet, unassuming farm along the Canadian border into a technicolor dreamscape that would push boundaries, facilitate change, question authority and reinvent the world with each person who crossed its threshold.

Numbers at the farm have climbed as we welcome students in the Sustainability Education Program, betterArts residents, overnight guests, WWOOFers, volunteers and visitors. This newsletter will outline the projects we've undertaken and the outreach we've done and are continuing to do in the North Country.

Chronicles of Better Farm adventures, along with crafty DIY projects to make you more self sufficient, green and creative—along with practical environmental theory and a little nudge to get you living more sustainably, are all jam-packed into my book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living. It hits bookshelves at the end of July; in the meantime, click here to  pre-order your copy at Amazon now! Stay tuned for information on an impending book tour!

I encourage you to check in at our blog to follow all of Better Farm's daily adventures. And do join us this Saturday at the Better Festival to see all we have to offer.

Until next time, better be.

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm

Read the full newsletter 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.

New Partnership with Jefferson Rehabilitation Center Offers Job-Training at Better Farm

Shawn from JRC works alongside the belles of Better Farm on groundswork Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Shawn from JRC works alongside the belles of Better Farm on groundswork Tuesdays and Thursdays.

A new partnership between Better Farm and the Jefferson Rehabilitation Center is offering job training to individuals in order to maximize their potential for job placement in the future.

Founded in Watertown in 1954, the Jefferson Rehabilitation Center (JRC) has provided programs and services to hundreds of children and adults in Jefferson County who are developmentally disabled. Today, JRC is an independent, not-for-profit corporation employing more than 650 staff members and serving more than 1,000 individuals and their families each year. JRC provides a wide range of services designed to enhance the quality of life and maximize the potential of individuals with disabilities through education, vocational opportunities, training, residential services, inclusion and advocacy in a community-based setting. A dedicated staff of medical, educational and therapeutic professionals, and specially trained direct care personnel provide the necessary support and training to the individuals they serve.

The JRC contacted Better Farm last month asking if we had any opportunities available that would provide on-the-job training for a few people who had expressed interest in groundswork, general maintenance, landscaping and other outdoor work. We were absolutely thrilled to offer up a list of ideas, and yesterday our first worker, Shawn, arrived. In a few short hours he'd begun work on a stone wall, raked up wood chips for the garden, landscaped a raised flower bed, and planted almost a dozen apple trees.

This partnership with the JRC will continue at least throughout the summer, with other workers joining Shawn during the season. To learn more about this essential 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.

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
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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.
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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 info@betterarts.org

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Upcoming Events

Here's a quick rundown of upcoming events. For more information, email info@betterfarm.org 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 info@betterfarm.org.
  • 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 info@betterfarm.org.
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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 www.betterfarm.org/sustainability-internship.

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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.
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.

Autumn Newsletter

Hello, Friends of Better Farm!
 

Better Farm News - Autumn 2014:


• News: All the Latest Buzz Around the Farm!

• Summer's Cast of Characters

• Better Radio Update

• Upcoming Events


The Farmer's Almanac recently listed an Upstate New York park as the best spot for witnessing fall foliage, and we can see why. New York State has some of the most unbelievable landscapes and such a variety of trees! We've been enjoying the ever-changing color palette going on all around us as we continue to pull pound after pound of organic produce from the garden, ready the grounds for winter, and take the rare few moments of free time we have to sit on the decks and simply watch the leaves turn.

We have you to thank for another record-setting summer. Read on to get the full rundown! Looking ahead into fall, we've got our radio station to set up and a flurry of seasonal events to ready for.

In other exciting news, my new book is slated for release in June 2015! Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living explores the intersection of sustainability and art, showing how each of us can reinvent our lives as our greatest artistic achievement. I am so excited to share this with all of you. It's got tons of interesting Better Farm history, behind-the-scenes tidbits on my own transition to the North Country, and insights on how we can tackle environmental problems and cultural isolation in new, creative and better ways. For more information on the book or to pre-order a copy, click here. A book tour, signings, and other Better-related events will start popping up in the winter and spring, so stay tuned!

As always, check in at our blog to follow all Better Farm's daily adventures. And moving forward, you can look forward to a shorter, monthly email to keep you updated on all things better.
 
Until next time, better be.

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm
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News: All the Buzz Around the Farm!

People from Better Farm and non-profit betterArts have stayed mighty busy this year with community outreach activities, projects around the farm, and new initiatives. Here's a review of all recent things "better":
  • Better Farm to be Featured in Ways of Living DocumentaryWays of Living follows a road trip around America in search of alternative and sustainable ways of life. The focus is love, posi vibes, living freely, wide open hearts, harming nothing. The film—due out this winter and produced by filmmakers Jessica Watkins and Harper Cowan—explores alternative technologies and sustainable practices, and features interviews with all sorts of people—artists, musicians, farmers, commune dwellers, earth ship builders and the like! The ladies paid us a visit last month—click here to track their progress!
  • Better Farm Takes First Place in Field Days Parade—Torrential downpours couldn't stop the Better Family from showing up en masse at the Redwood Volunteer Fire Department's Firemen's Field Days this year. We made a patriot-themed float for the Field Days Parade, and outfitted the crew in Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter costumes. Dancing our way along the parade route in a rainstorm with oldies blasting, we wooed the judges and took home first place. Check out photos from the event here.
  • Summer Workshops—betterArts and Better Farm this year offered workshops in weaving, beginner's piano, upcycling, building with recycled materials, poetry, film, and winemaking.
  • Summer Festivals—betterArts this summer organized two very successful festivals, Better Festival and Summerfest. Held in June and July, these events showcased local artists and musicians, offered farm tours to the public, and featured farm-fresh food, arts 'n' crafts, and a great time for all. Thanks for helping these events be so successful!
  • Better Bees—We've established a "better" beehive at the farm, and now understand the term "busy bee" in new ways. These insects have been unbelievably busy helping to pollinate produce in the garden and creating quite the honey collection. Get ready for Better Honey in Spring 2015!
  • Partnership Brings Fresh Produce to Redwood Food PantryA new partnership has turned the Redwood Community Greenhouse into a produce operation that will supply fresh greens and veggies to the Redwood Food Pantry. Local organizations Hearts for Youth, Redwood Neighborhood Association, and Better Farm have teamed up to provide volunteer hours that will cultivate fresh, organic produce earmarked specifically for use by the Redwood Food Pantry. To that end, the Community Greenhouse has been relocated to Better Farm in order to receive the round-the-clock attention and watering a summer greenhouse requires; while also taking advantage of the extended growing season a greenhouse can provide. This winter, Better Farm's chickens will heat the greenhouse to allow crops to be grown well into snow season.
  • Better Mud Run—Better Farm in July hosted a Better Mud Run that featured more than 20 obstacles and invited the fiercest  athletes and thrill-seekers to the Better Farm campus for agility obstacles, a road run, scaling mountains, and—of course—getting really, really muddy. Special thanks go out to the Redwood Volunteer Fire Department for helping us get the course good and wet!
  • Flock Expansion—Better Farm expanded its flock this year in two ways: one, with the rescue of whopping 27 more hens from a nearby egg factory; and with the stork-like arrival of a bunch of just-hatched birds representing breeds Yokohama, Light Brahma, German Spitzhauben, and Buff Orpington. We were able to adopt out several of the rescue chickens, and the remaining sponsored rescues—along with their exotic new roommates—will help to diversify and strengthen the gene pool for a fresh hatching next spring.
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Summer's Cast of Characters

It was a women-centric summer, with the majority of visitors, residents, and students sporting double-X chromosomes. Here's a recap of our artists and students since June:
  • Allison Bachner, sustainability student in August who recently graduated St. Lawrence University;
  • Kiran Chandra, betterArts resident who created a body of work investigating notions of time, place, communication, and dialogue. She works with paper, water colors, India and colored inks, spoken word, and video. Kiran earned a bachelor's degree from St. Stephen's College at Delhi University in India before moving from Calcutta to Boston to earn a secondary bachelor's in fine art from the Art Institute of Boston. In 2013 she earned an MFA from Hunter College in Manhattan. She now lives in Brooklyn, where she is a teaching artist with various organizations throughout New York City;
  • Xuan Du, sustainability student in July and August attending Colby College in Maine;
  • Maggie Fishman, graphic novelist and betterArts resident based in Brooklyn who focuses on drawing, painting and graphic poetry. In addition to her work as a professional artist, Fishman has worked in education, activism, anthropology, and writing while exploring how we put beliefs into action, how we connect the personal with political and artistic expression and social change—and how we can nurture and educate the next generation to build the world anew. Her ongoing graphic novel, The End of Oil, is a series of drawings and paintings in ink and watercolor which Fishman is building into a book. The pieces explore how common stories and themes shared by humanity are acted out in a world we are told is near its end. Fishman used her betterArts residency to work on the second section, using her time in a community-based living situation to reflect and clarify the themes and stories in her work. Fishman possesses a PhD with Honors in cultural anthropology from New York University, a BA with honors from Haverford College, and has earned fellowships and scholarships to New York University and the New York Studio School. She has worked as a lead researcher, visiting professor, adjunct instructor, and developer for arts outreach organizations and at colleges; and is co-founder of the River School Project. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions for more than 20 years;
  • April Lee, betterArts resident who spent July and August working on pieces for her senior thesis exhibition at Princeton University. A visual arts major, April explored wet media and sculpture during her residency;
  • Katie Mollica, full-time staffer who ran our sustainability education program and who also works with wood-burning, woodworking, and is starting her own cupcake business (check her baked goods out here!); and
  • Mary Negro, betterArts resident based out of New York City who works with drawings and collage. Mary's work centers around her feelings toward technology, the media, and digital methods of communication. She has degrees from Fordham University's College of Rose Hill and the Fashion Institute of Technology.
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Better Radio Update!

We've spent the last year creating a beginning archive of content for the soon-to-air Better Radio. We've had lots of help—from the public, from students at area high schools, and from artists willing to share their music with us. We have a tentative kick-off air date of June 2015. This weekend we'll be testing our tower to see where we get the the best frequency. We've also appointed a director of content for Better Radio, Allen Briggs. Allen is a board member of betterArts and is excited to help steer this project. If you're interested in volunteering or helping to produce content, get in touch at info@betterarts.org. And let your broadcast friends know they can apply for a residency through betterArts that would focus on New Media!
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Upcoming Events
Here's a quick rundown of upcoming events. For more information, email info@betterfarm.org.
  • Oct. 18 —Sackets Harbor Fall Festival
  • Oct. 23—Indian River Middle School Health Fair 5-7 p.m.
  • November Date TBD—Community Thanksgiving Dinner Potluck, 4 p.m. Email info@betterfarm.org or call (315) 482-2536 to sign up!
  • 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
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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 www.betterfarm.org/sustainability-internship.

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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.
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.

Better Farm Spring 2014 Newsletter

Hello, Friends of Better Farm!
On this day in 1970, my Uncle Steve signed papers that would make a little farmhouse in Redwood, N.Y., his. He called up his closest family members and friends, and invited them to take part in a great experiment at this special place he'd decided to lovingly name Better Farm. Take part they did: making the trip to Northern New York from throughout the Northeast to put an addition on that tiny house so it could hold a dozen or more people at a time, furnishing it with electric and indoor plumbing, and starting a tiny garden off to the side of the property that grew small potatoes, carrots, and greens.

They couldn't have known then that 44 years later, Better Farm would boast a sustainability program inviting people from all over the world to Redwood for a premier green-living education. No one could have expected an artist residency program that would attract some of the most talented painters, musicians, performers, sculptors, and writers to create—and share those creations with people living in Redwood and the larger Thousand Islands Region. Who'd have imagined Better Farm with a radio station, partnerships with top-notch restaurants along the St. Lawrence River, a host of awards and recognitions, and, finally, a tell-all book?

But all these things have, miraculously or unmiraculously, happened—and continue to happen. Better Farm has been an organic unfolding, with its increasing popularity and visibility a true testament to the people who have come to this most special of places and turned it into something that is ever-evolving, ever-growing, and always, simply, better.

I'm reminded of the history of this place every time I move between rooms or dig in the dirt outside. As betterArts launches a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Better Radio, or we foray into backyard beekeeping, or our music festival circuit grows to include some of the most popular bands in the North Country, I recall the history of Better Farm as passed down through stories told to me by my father and mother, grandparents, friends, and of course, by my Uncle Steve. There are so many good ghosts in this place, and so many more stories to come.

In this newsletter, we're inviting you to help us Build a Better Radio—an initiative that will bring cutting-edge, independent journalism to you on-air and online, a showcase of North Country talent, talk shows, gardening tips, fishing reports, and all the movers and shakers that make this part of the world so provocative. We've also got a workshop schedule that will keep you tapped into your creative side all summer, enough art galleries, performances, and arts showcases to shake a stick at, a Better Mud Run extreme obstacle course, and a CSA program for all you North Country locals to join that will provide you with weekly shares of fresh, organic produce straight from Better Farm.

As always, stay tuned to our blog to follow all Better Farm's adventures. And thank you so much for ushering in Better Farm's 45th year in style. It is because of all your support that this place is so sacred.
 
Until next time, better be.

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm


Better Farm News - Spring 2014:

• News: All the Buzz Around the Farm!

• Help betterArts Build a Better Radio!

• Upcoming 'Better' Events and Initiatives

• Summer Sustainability Education Program

• betterArts Residency Program


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News: All the Buzz Around the Farm!

People from Better Farm and non-profit betterArts have stayed mighty busy this year with community outreach activities, projects around the farm, and new initiatives. Here's a review of all recent things "better":
  • Kickoff of Better Farm's CSACommunity-Supported Agriculture programs, or CSAs, are designed to bring individuals and families living locally weekly shares of fresh produce at extremely affordable rates. Better Farm's CSA runs through the last week of November and invites members to stop in on a weekly basis to pick up their shares of produce. Learn more and sign up at www.betterfarm.org/CSA.
  • Better Radio Student Outreach—BetterArts kicked off Better Radio, a new FCC-approved, low-power FM station, with outreach work that equips students throughout the North Country with New Media skills such as making and editing digital recordings, broadcasting, and archiving. Projects created by students at Indian River High School and Sackets Harbor Central School will be broadcast on-air and online via podcast. This outreach project was made possible by a Best Buy Community Grant. Click here to learn more.
  • Tree-Planting Partnership with DEC—Better Farm entered its third year of a tree-planting partnership with the DEC in which 50 white spruces were planted on the Better Farm property to encourage responsible land stewardship and provide educational opportunities in conservation for young people visiting Better Farm.
  • BetterArts Kids Room at Irish Festival—For the second year, betterArts hosted a successful Kids Room at the North Country Goes Green! Irish Festival held in Watertown. Volunteers offered arts 'n' crafts stations where kids could make leprechaun planters, caterpillars, leprechaun ears, and rainbows made from recycled items; game booths where children could try their luck at bean bag tosses and fishing games, a face-painting station, jewelry making, and more.
  • Muse Presentation Features Music by betterArts Board MembersThe North Country Arts Council's annual multi-arts presentation "MUSE" this year featured music by betterArts board members AmberLee Clement and Erin Fulton. The song was written by AmberLee for the family of Walter Boname, local hunting and fishing guide and friend.
  • Better Buckets Compost InitiativeIn partnership with the Redwood Neighborhood Association, Better Farm's "Better Buckets" initiative invites individuals and families living locally to fill 5-gallon pails with food scraps that are then picked up (or may be dropped off at the community compost bins) on a weekly basis throughout the year. The dirt produced in the compost bins are available for free to the public.
  • Shop AmazonSmile, Support betterArtsAmazonSmile is a new program allowing a portion of all your Amazon purchases to be donated to betterArts in order to support arts and cultural outreach in the North Country. Here's how it works: You visit smile.amazon.com (or simply follow this link) and plug "betterArts" in under charitable organization. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon marketplace you're used to—except a percentage of your purchase amounts will be donated to betterArts.
  • Local Outreach Work—Better Farm and betterArts in May participated in the One District, One Book Initiative, H.T. Wiley L.I.F.E. Event, Macsherry Library Garden Day, and the Mustard Seed Organic Market's Annual Earth Day celebration.
  • Better Bees!—Thanks to a generous donation by the Mollica family, Better Farm has forayed into backyard bee keeping! The young bees purchased from local bee keeper Ted Elk have transitioned into their hive and are producing honey like mad. You can read about this new venture here.
  • Spent Hens Rescue Mission—For the second time, Better Farm has rescued a flock of "spent hens" from an egg factory and is working to rehabilitate and rehome the birds so they can enjoy the rest of their days out from behind bars. Learn how you can get involved here.
  • Better: The Book!—Better Farm's Executive Director Nicole Caldwell has signed a contract with New Society Publishers to pen a book called Better. Chronicling her own experience transitioning from cubicle to country and the mission of Better Farm, Better is one-part memoir, one-part call to environmental action, and one-party instructable with DIY projects for everything from aquaponic fish tanks to upcycling. Better is due for release in Spring 2015.
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Help betterArts Build a Better Radio!

With your help, we can get Better Radio on-air and online with groundbreaking, grassroots content ranging from sustainability to art. A new Kickstarter campaign by betterArts invites you to make Better Radio a reality by helping to procure necessary funds for a transmitter, antenna, and other equipment. Visit the Kickstarter page and pledge your support here.
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Upcoming 'Better' Events and Initiatives

Summer music festivals, extreme obstacle courses, and workshops galore: Here's your guide to everything Better in the coming months! Visit our upcoming events page for more information.
MAY
  • 31 Dragonfly Festival—The Redwood Neighborhood Association, Indian River Lakes Conservancy, betterArts, and Better Farm present the First Annual Dragonfly Festival. Held at the public pavilion in the center of Redwood, this event features live music, a cook-out, arts 'n' crafts, costume contest, homemade wine tastings, and more.
JUNE
  • 21  Better Festival—Enjoy live performances by local and regional bands, a gallery showcasing artwork by painters, sculptors, and photographers, booths featuring art and handmade items for sale, tours of the Better Farm campus, information about Better Farm and betterArts 2014 programming, arts and crafts for kids (and adults!), freshly prepared and locally sourced food, a refreshments tent, games, bouncy castle, and more! Click here for all the information.
JULY
  • 12  Better Mud Run—The first annual Better Mud Run kicks off at high noon. Hosted by Better Farm and featuring more than 20 obstacles, Better Mud Run invites the fiercest  athletes and thrill-seekers to the Better Farm campus for agility obstacles, wall-climbs, scaling mountains, and—of course—getting really, really muddy. Click here for info.
  • 18 Open Mic Poetry ReadingNo cover, all poets welcome! Pre-registration encouraged, pre-register by emailing netague@gmail.com.
AUGUST
  • 2 Upcycling WorkshopThis all-ages workshop invites students to transform old items into something new. Furniture, clothing, or anything else you find is welcome! Crafts supplies like glue, needle and thread, embroidery floss, and others will be available. There is a suggested $5 donation for this course. Email info@betterarts.org to pre-register. Instructor: Stephanie DeJoseph of La Mia Designs
  • 16 Redwood Field Days ParadeCheer Better Farm and betterArts on in their annual Redwood Field Days Parade float! Parade starts at 6 p.m. on Route 37 in Redwood.
  • 18-23 Blast Off With Piano—This introductory piano camp is held for 45 minutes Monday through Friday. Students will learn fundamentals of rhythm reading and keyboard geography, and how to play with others through board games, ensemble piano playing, and other age-appropriate activities. Children will be divided into three age groups: Ages 5-6/10-11 a.m., Ages 7-8/11 a.m.-12 p.m., and Ages 9-10/12-1 p.m. There is a 6-student max for each age group. On Saturday, students are invited to perform at 12 p.m. to kick off the annual Summer Fest, a music festival held at Better Farm. Students do not need a keyboard instrument at home to practice on. The camp studio is equipped with enough keyboards for in-class use. Cost: $70, pre-register by 8/11 at info@betterarts.org. Instructor: Jason Comet of Watertown Piano Lessons.
  • 23 Children's Weaving Children from second through fourth grade are invited to this two-hour class to learn two types of weaving. Students will acquire basic weaving knowledge, gain hands-on experience, and discuss basic weaving vocabulary. Students may additionally bring old clothes, fabric, or yarn for their projects if they like. Cost for class: $5. Email info@betterarts.org for more information or to pre-register. Instructor: Local artist Alyssa Curley is a fiber-working expert. She earned a BA in Art Education from SUNY Potsdam.
  • 23 SummerfestGet the full rundown at www.betterarts.org/summerfest!
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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. 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 www.betterfarm.org/sustainability-internship.

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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.

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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.

Better Farm Newsletter: Winter 2014



Hello, Friends of Better Farm!


What a winter! Record-setting cold temperatures, lakes iced over before the New Year, wind chills reaching -40 in some parts of the North Country, and a week-long power outage to boot: Is anyone else ready for spring?

We're keeping things hot at Better Farm by gearing up for our busiest season yet. On the heels of a recent FCC approval and first-time betterArts grant from Best Buy, we're initiating a low-power FM station called Better Radio that will work in tandem with our websites and blog to bring you original content from the North Country. Donations to betterArts' Better Radio project are tax-deductible and will go directly into making this project a success (funding information is below). We've confirmed two summer music and art festivals to be held at Better Farm, a "Better Mudder" extreme obstacle course in July, several workshops and retreats, and the arrival this spring of a brand-new stable of artists-in-residence and sustainability students. Better Farm is also available as a venue for rustic weddings, field trip for kids to learn about the great outdoors, and a perfect place to host your next conference, meeting, or event. Information about all of these milestones is below! Stay tuned to our blog to follow all of these adventures. If you know of anyone interested in gaining some hands-on experience with sustainability issues or an artist in search of a creative, open space in which to work on their projects, please send them our way!

Enjoy the rest of the winter season—we will see you again this spring!

Until next time, better be.

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm
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News! Autumn Recap, Winter Activities, and betterArts' First Grant

People from Better Farm and its subsidiary nonprofit betterArts kept busy all fall and in this first-half of winter with plenty of community outreach activities and milestones. Here's a review of all recent things "better":
  • Thanksgiving 'Family' Dinner Party—More than two dozen people came out to enjoy an early Thanksgiving dinner party with the cast and crew of Better Farm and betterArts. This was our third annual event of this kind, and we expect the tradition to continue for years to come! The potluck event is free and open to the public.
  • Holiday Party with Hospice of Jefferson County—betterArts in December partnered with Survivor Outreach Services of Fort Drum and Hospice of Jefferson County to present "A Time of Holiday Remembrance" for children who have lost a loved one. The event, held at Hospice of Jefferson Country's offices on Gotham Street in Watertown, featured arts 'n' crafts, lunch and cookies, a gifts giveaway, and a project hosted by betterArts that included decorating flower pots and planting poinsettias.
  • Indoor Growing Systems—We expanded our indoor water-based growing system by adding a hydroponics tank. With lettuce growing in that bed and tomatoes blossoming in our aquaponics setup, we're on track to have fresh greens and produce right up through our next outdoor growing season. Click here for the full details and how-to guide for starting your own indoor garden.
  • betterArts Receives First Grant—Best Buy Children's Foundation annually donates up to $2 million in community grants to local and regional nonprofit organizations that provide teens with places and opportunities to develop 21st-century technology skills. betterArts received $6,000 in funding from Best Buy to use in conjunction with its latest project, "Better Radio", a radio station and educational program based out of Better Farm (more information on that below!). Grant funds were used to purchase recording equipment that will be used by young adults enrolled in local schools to produce content; from music to interviews and story-telling. In addition to airing that content on Better Radio, it will be available for use in podcasts and on school websites.
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Better Radio Becomes a Reality

Better Radio: A New Media Project by betterArts is a low-power FM station recently approved for transmission out of Better Farm's property. The station will be owned and operated by betterArts, and will be used along with websites and blogs to transmit content produced in the North Country. Approval of the station was announced in December, on the heels of a community grant from Best Buy to purchase recording equipment. We expect our station number sometime this spring; after which time we have 18 months to erect our tower and begin transmitting. While all of that is going on, betterArts members will be working with students at local schools to create great content for use online and on-air. Their content—and content produced by adults in the community—includes recordings by local musicians, storytelling, political roundtables, weather reports, interviews, DIY home repair tips, gardening how-tos, and much much more. We are accepting donations to help fund our tower, transmitter, additional equipment and basic start-up costs. Please email info@betterarts.org if you would like to make a donation of any amount. And stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can get involved.

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Upcoming 'Better' Events and Initiatives

Compost Initiatives, St. Patty's Day parties, summer music festivals, and extreme obstacle courses: Here's your guide to everything Better in the coming months!
  • Better BucketsComposting is the process of turning food scraps into nutrient-rich soil. With up to 40 percent of all landfills comprised of otherwise biodegradable food scraps, composting is a simple way to cut a huge amount out of the waste stream while benefiting backyard gardens, homegrown produce, and increasing amounts of topsoil. To that end, Better Farm has partnered with the Redwood Neighborhood Association and other local groups and individuals to kick off a new campaign that will turn natural waste into soil and help preserve and expand the natural beauty of the area. “Better Buckets” allows individuals and families in the Redwood area to isolate food scraps from the waste stream in order to benefit their community. Better Farm will deliver five-gallon pails to those who have signed up and make regular visits to empty the buckets. Waste will be brought to Redwood's Community Greenhouse for processing (and overflow to Better Farm), where over time the food scraps will become healthy soil perfect for fertilizing flowers and produce grown in the community greenhouse. This program is brought to the community at no cost to participating individuals. Those that would like to participate can click here for more information.
  • betterArts to Host Kids' Room at Irish Fest—For the second year in a row, betterArts will be in charge of the kids' room at North Country Goes Green's Irish festival held March 14-16 at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown, N.Y. There will be lots of prizes, arts 'n' crafts, games, snacks, and fun to be had for children of all ages!
  • Better Festival slated June 21—This year's annual Better Festival is set for 12-8 p.m. Saturday, June 21. All money raised at the annual music, sustainability, and arts festival will directly fund art- and sustainability-related community outreach initiatives in and around Redwood. The day-long event will featuring live performances by local and regional bands, a gallery showcasing artwork by painters, sculptors, photographers, and more, booths featuring art and handmade items for sale, tours of the Better Farm campus, information about Better Farm and betterArts 2014 programming, arts 'n' crafts for kids (and adults!), freshly prepared and locally sourced food, a refreshments tent, games, bouncy castle, and more! To introduce betterArts' latest endeavor Better Radio, there will be a booth set up for people to create content for that station. Music will also be recorded for live-streaming and podcasts. Camping is available for $10/person/night. We are offering accommodations Friday through Monday, or any night therein. Workshops will also be scheduled throughout the weekend and include lessons in upcycling, permaculture, and yoga. If you would like to perform, display your art, or volunteer, please contact us at info@betterfarm.org to be directed to the appropriate betterArts or Better Farm contact.
  • Better Mudder Coming July 2014 — We're bringing a "better" version of the Tough Mudder competition to Redwood, N.Y., in our first annual Better Mudder event in July 2014. Hosted by Better Farm and featuring more than 20 obstacles, Better Mudder invites the fiercest  athletes and thrill-seekers to the Better Farm campus for agility obstacles, wall-climbs, scaling mountains, and—of course—getting really, really muddy. Proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and sustainability and wellness outreach in the North Country. Stay tuned for more information at www.betterfarm.org/better-mudder.
  • Have Your Next Event at Better Farm—We are now accepting bookings for 2014 retreats, workshops, weddings, corporate meetings and events, lectures, and field trips at Better Farm. Better Farm is situated on 65 acres of  rolling hillsides, forests, open fields, farmed land, a pond, and a small fruit orchard. There are several buildings: the main house with two kitchens, seven bedrooms, three lofts, a library, four bathrooms, laundry room, office and two common areas; the two-story Art Barn with gallery/event space, studio, and second-story deck functioning as stage overlooking a natural amphitheater; a tool shed, wood shed, greenhouse, and small cabins for additional overnight guests. The main house, barn, and property are available year-round to rent for weddings, retreats, workshops, field trips, festivals, concerts, lectures, and more. Rent the whole property for big groups, or rent just what you need for a smaller group. Contact info@betterfarm.org with your inquiries. For overnight lodging information, click here.
---

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. 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 www.betterfarm.org/sustainability-internship.

---

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.

Better Farm October Newsletter


Better Farm News - October 2013:


• Summer Recap: Festivals, Showcases, and Community Outreach

• How Does Your Garden Grow?

• Workshop Roundup

• Summer Sustainability Education Program

• Recent Visiting Artists
 


Hello, Friends of Better Farm!


It's been another record-setting year at Better Farm. We've put on more events for the community, provided more sustainability outreach, welcomed more visitors, students and artists to Redwood, showcased more art, initiated more projects, and raised more chickens this year than any year before—and we're heading into Autumn with lots to accomplish on the horizon.

The last four years have been a truly wonderful journey. The investment of our visiting artists and students, and the ongoing support of you, Better Farm's most ardent supporters, have molded this space and turned it into a premier destination for sustainability education, artist residencies, and cultural events. Stay tuned to our blog to follow all of these adventures and continued successes—and be sure to visit www.betterfarm.org regularly to stay up-to-date on all things Better. If you know of anyone interested in gaining some hands-on experience with sustainability issues or an artist in search of a creative, open space in which to work on their projects, please send them our way! BetterArts residencies and farm programming in sustainability education are year-round endeavors for us.

May you enjoy a lovely autumn filled with brave new frontiers and a plethora of possibility.

Until next time, better be.

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm
 
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Summer Series: Festivals, Community Outreach, and Showcases

Better Farm was home to many Spring and Summer events; and its residents made a concerted effort to have a strong presence in the community with many service activities. Here's a quick rundown of what we've been up to:
  • Better Festival—Thanks to a wonderful crowd braving frigid late-May temperatures, a cast and crew of diligent, hard-working volunteers, dozens of intimidatingly talented performers, artists, and musicians, and loving and generous sponsors, this year's Better Festival was our largest—and most successful—yet. We broke through the ceiling on our fundraising goals, which made it possible for us to offer a very full season of programming, community outreach, workshops, and events to the public.
  • Backyard Science Day—We were invited by Cornell Cooperative Extension to participate in Backyard Science Day June 10 at Lyme Central School in Chaumont. For our presentation, we built a solar oven to show kids how they could heat up food with the sun alone.
  • Pay it Forward Projects—We believe it's not enough to learn and practice sustainability and art—we believe in paying what we learn forward. To that end, folks at Better Farm make it a regular mission to go out into the community to help neighbors with their own gardens and home revitalization projects, work with kids, and provide support to other organizations. In the last few months, we put two gardens in, painted a house, volunteered at several schools, beautified downtown centers, and brought our show on the road in the Redwood Field Days Parade.
  • Open Mic Poetry Night—Through a partnership between Line Assembly Poetry Group and betterArts, Better Farm on July 2 hosted an open-mic poetry night. Individuals from Line Assembly, betterArts resident Bradley Harrison, and local residents gathered at the Art Barn to read their latest creations.
  • Summerfest—Aug. 17 marked our second annual Summerfest. The free event, featuring local vendors selling handmade goods, a gallery filled with art to enjoy and purchase, and half a dozen musical acts (plus a late-night jam session for anyone who cared to participate) is put on every year by betterArts in order to increase access to cultural opportunities in the North Country. Click here for the full rundown, photos, and information about all the wonderful artists and musicians who participated.
  • Exceptional Family Arts and Wellness Expo —We showcased in August the artwork and performance pieces of some amazing children. The Exceptional Family Arts and Wellness Expo, a partnered event between Fort Drum and betterArts, featured art and performance pieces by children enrolled in Fort Drum's Exceptional Family Members Program. Among the activities were dance performances from Amy Earle School of Dance, upcycling projects, a gallery of artwork by local students, arts 'n' crafts, tours of Better Farm's gardens and buildings, and locally produced food fired up on the grill along with organic, locally grown side dishes.
  • Better Radio —Better Radio is a step closer to becoming a reality. The Senate in 2010 approved the Local Community Radio Act, a bill that expanded radio stations for Low Power FM and which mandated the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to license virtually thousands of new stations. Since then, betterArts achieved its 501(c)3 status as a non-profit educational organization. This characterization allows the arts outreach group to apply for grants and conduct fundraising efforts that fuel free and low-cost arts education, outreach, events, and much much more. The group's latest effort is "Better Radio"; a radio station and educational program based out of Better Farm that works in multiple ways to increase access to the arts for all while simultaneously providing the community's youth with New Media education. Better Radio will advance betterArts' mission of increasing access to the arts and culture in the North Country and beyond by offering the many different broadcasts; and will provide educational outreach to high school students in and around the North Country region with an interest in New Media, Journalism, Production, Editing Software, Music Mixing, and Broadcast.
  • Farm-to-Table Dinner Party—Better Farm's first-ever Farm-to-Table Dinner Party was held Sept. 26 and featured a menu of local cheeses, breaded zucchini medallions, salads, butternut squash soup, bacon-wrapped, wild-caught goose, and much much more. Stay tuned for future farm-to-table events here and locally!
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How Does Your Garden Grow?


We doubled the size of our gardens again this year, and added eight new chickens to our flock (we're up to 32 feathered friends!). The combined output of eggs, compost decomposition, production of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and the installation of a small orchard have contributed greatly to a sustainable, closed-loop system in which nutrients pass from compost to dirt to produce to people and chickens and back again. The North Country saw a late start to gardening season this year, with a ridiculously wet spring and cool start to summer. Once things settled down, however, we were left with a food crop that's stocked the local co-op and natural market, neighborhood bar and grill, our farm stand, and kept all the bellies at Better Farm full. Here are a few highlights from the summer: ---

Summer Workshop Series Review

Whether making wine or constructing an insect hotel, here's our short list of workshops offered in recent months:
  • Beneficial Bugs and Insect Hotels — Tidy gardens, chemically fertilized lawns, and a lack of dead wood in suburban/urban areas mean less and less habitat for wild bees, spiders, and ladybugs. You can combat this issue by creating an "insect hotel" to attract beneficial insects (read: pollinators and pest controllers) to your yard and garden. At this workshop, people were taught how to construct an insect hotel out of scraps found around work rooms, forests, and trash.
  • The Art of Beer and Wine: Intro to Brewing and Fermentation — This summer, Master Brewer Paul Jennings taught a a three-part brewing series that educated the public about making beer and wine. Groups created oatmeal stout and two varieties of blueberry wine.
  • Sauna Construction — We broke ground this summer on a sauna constructed entirely out of recycled materials like pallets and old tree stumps. The hands-on class examined materials, ways to refurbish discarded materials, and basic tool tutorials; culminating in the construction of a sauna on-site at Better Farm. Expected completion date for this project is November 2013. Stay tuned for updates!
  • The Humanure Compost System — Whether you 're hosting an event and need a few extra porta-potties, in need of a toilet out by your work room or garage, re-doing your camp on the lake and lack a bathroom, or if you're ready to transition from a water-based septic or sewer system, the "humanure" compost toilet is a simple, cheap, ecologically responsible way to deal with human waste. This workshop explored the basic concepts of compost toilets and the ways our culture deals with waste, and culminated in a step-by-step project to create a simple compost toilet.
  • Creative Upcycling and the Art of Transforming JunkIn this owrkshop, each student brought an old, tired piece of furniture or clothing to transform into something functional. From sketches to the final product, wonderful instructor Stephanie DeJoseph of La Mia Designs helped students visualize, create, transform, and finalize an upcycled piece.
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Summer Sustainability Education Program
This year brought with it an amazing group of students eager to learn all they could about sustainability issues, green living, and organic farming. Whether out in the garden cooking up organic pest deterrents, building structures with alternative or upcycled materials, or foraging for edible wild plants, this group's enthusiasm was contagious and their willingness to utilize creative problem solving and non-traditional methods was downright inspiring. Here's the crew we were lucky enough to work with for the last several months:
  • Kara Colarusso, a graduate of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., who majored in environmental studies and is pursuing a career as a yoga instructor. Her interests in sustainability and local farming—paired with a passion for working with local communities to help educate them about local agriculture—inspired her to pursue an education at Better Farm;
  • Jesse Coyle, a student at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry working on a bachelors of science in conservation. She hails from Syracuse, and was raised on a small cattle farm in Central New York. She chose Better Farm because she wanted to broaden her knowledge of alternative building, green gardening, and wilderness survival;
  • Jacob Firman, an environmental studies major at Oberlin College in Ohio, who was passionate about food justice, addressing climate change, and working to create a more sustainable and just world;
  • Rebekah Kosier, a student at Wells College in Aurora, N.Y., grew up in a rural area in Alabama. She had the opportunity to witness the process of farming and to know many farmers; but she came to Better Farm in order to connect sustainable farming practices to her interest in food sovereignty;
  • Kathryn Mollica, a student at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., whose employment at Whole Foods opened her eyes to the benefits of organic farming and changed her world.
For more information about Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program, click here.

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Recent Visiting Artists
We had an amazing group of visiting artists who provided much inspiration and beauty to all the goings-on at the Better Farm campus. These artists immersed themselves in the local community; helping to construct our float in the Redwood Field Days Parade, providing workshops to the public, and lending a hand in ongoing projects in and around Better Farm. Here are all the wonderful artists who have come to Better Farm since May:
  • Bradley Harrison graduated in May with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas. The Colfax, Iowa, native recently completed his first full-length poetry collection, which is pending publication, and has published a chapbook of poems called "Diorama of a People, Burning" through Ricochet Editions at the University of Southern California. He worked during his residency on new poems he seeks to develop into a second, full-length collection.
  • Vivian Hyelim Kim is a visual artist from Elmhurst, N.Y., who makes installations, paintings, photographs and art books. She has her MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., and her BFA from Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. While at Better Farm, Vivian is keeping a visual diary that took its form of a wall installation. She took walks in outdoor surroundings, picked one element of nature every day, and brought it into the studio. To see samples of Vivian's work, visit www.vivianhyelimkim.com
  • Ashley Jones is a visual artist with a BFA in printmaking from California College of the Arts. She attended Clayworks on Columbia in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Diablo Valley College in Pleasonton, Calif. Her work has been shown extensively at galleries from coast to coast and she has been the recipient of several scholarships and awards for her art. Ashley lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. See more of her work here.
  • Natalie Collette Wood is an artist living in New York City who  joined us to experiment with sculpture and collage using found objects, spray paint, foam, and metal to create abstract pieces that hang from the ceiling or wall. Click here for images of her work.
For more information about the betterArts Residency Program, click here.

Connect with us:
Learn 
MailChimp on iTunesWebsite
Follow us on Facebook! Facebook
Read the MailChimp blog Blog
Merch

Share this email:

Contact Us:

Better Farm
31060 Cottage Hill Road
Redwood, NY 13679
315-482-2536
info@betterfarm.org
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.

May 2013 Newsletter


Better Farm News - May 2013:


• Better Festival Saturday, May 25

• Recent projects at Better Farm

• Latest Community Outreach Initiatives

• Better Farm and betterArts Summer Workshop Schedule
 


Hello, Friends of Better Farm!

Our open house is just nine days away, and we can barely contain our excitement. The annual "Better Festival" is our opportunity to spread the word about the work we're doing, promote local artists, performers, and businesses, let the public take a peek at our gardens and grounds, and to help betterArts, our sister non-profit arts outreach organization, raise vital funds to fuel art- and music-related workshops, education, and events in 2013. This year's festival will feature a gallery filled with work by local artists, two music stages and eight acts throughout the day, vendors offering on-site portraits, handmade jewelry, clothing, and other goods, games for all ages, a bouncy castle, camping, and a refreshments and food tent. More information is below; as well as contact information if you'd like to reserve a campsite ahead of time.

On the other side of that event is June 1; the start of our our FOURTH summer in business! We'll be welcoming people from as far as Serbia and as close as Grass Lake; from both coasts in the United States, and many states in between. Our residents will be arriving to gardens that are four times the size they were in 2010; an aquaponics garden, a series of raised herb beds, a new fruit orchard, 26 very loveable chickens, a fully renovated Art Barn, and a calendar filled with field trips, workshops, and community service projects. Stay tuned to our blog to follow their journeys!

It was June 15, 2009, when I began my own journey at Better Farm; and it is so gratifying to near that anniversary and see how far this great experiment has come. I would personally like to thank you all of you for making this living lab a roaring success.
 
I hope to see you at our open house May 25! Be sure to visit www.betterfarm.org to stay up-to-date on all things Better.

Until next time, better be.

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm
 
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Better Festival 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 25


For music set times, lists of vendors and artists, and camping information, visit the event website: www.betterarts.org/open-house-2013

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Recent Projects at Better Farm


With the bulk of major renovations at the farm complete, this spring has been all about fine-tuning the property and seeking out new, creative opportunities for Better Farm and betterArts. Here are some of the projects we've embarked on:
  • Recycling for Charities — Now you can help the environment and support betterArts in one fell swoop simply by sending in your old cell phones, iPods, iPads, and other electronics to Recycling for Charities. How this partnership works is simple: First, you collect your old wireless cell phones, PDA's, iPods, or digital cameras. Then, select betterArts from the list of charities on Recycling for Charities' website. A donation is then made on your behalf for each mobile phone, PDA, iPod or digital camera you collect. To complete the process, simply print out the shipping label directly from Recycling for Charities' website. Affix the label to your box, pack your collected donations, and ship! Visit www.recyclingforcharities.com for more information.
  • Better Farm Children's Book Now Available! Starry the Fawn, written and illustrated by former intern Amanda Treco, is more than a dozen pages that tell the story of Star Wars, an orphaned fawn rescued and raised by the people at Better Farm in 2012. The cost of $12 includes shipping anywhere in the Continental United States. A portion of all proceeds will go toward sustainability education initiatives and art outreach at Better Farm. Click here to order.
  • Roadside Installation: The Doors — Keep your eyes peeled as you drive by Better Farm! Artist-in-Residence Mike Brown has been working on an ongoing series of paintings on doors for several years now; culminating this week in their installation throughout the property at Better Farm. The brightly colored doors can be seen along the outskirts of the property; dotting the treeline, punctuating hillsides. There may be up to a dozen by the time the installation is complete.
  • Work Begins on New Art Barn Ceiling — Thanks to donations from Focal Point Custom Framing and Fort Drum, Better Farm's Art Barn is about to have a gallery ceiling fittingly made entirely out of upcycled picture frames. It's a lesson in upcycling, but more than that we like to think of it as a very literal intersection between art and sustainability. In return for keeping hundreds of old picture frames out of burn pits or landfills, we get to use them to create a thing of beauty—and a thought-provoking thing at that. Click here to see updates on our blog.
  • Bird Habitat Installation — In a nod to our founder Steve Caldwell (an avid birder), and thanks to some gifts of birdhouses from local friends, we're sporting a serious bird village at Better Farm.We have almost a dozen birdhouses we keep up and manage for our feathered tenants—including a gorgeous bluebird house given to us last year by the New York State Bluebird Society. In April, we added to that arsenal with two large houses made from slab wood by a craftsman in Gouverneur, N.Y., and four bluebird houses made by a neighbor.
  • Rustic Wood Carpentry — A friend of Better Farm stopped in last month with a truck bed filled with logs and a chainsaw. Two hours later, we had four benches perfect for campfire-sitting or enjoying music from the top of the hill behind the Art Barn. Here's a great spring project for those of you who are comfortable wielding a chainsaw—click here for full instructions.
  • Better Orchard — We wrote back in March about all the fruit trees we ordered to create a small orchard on Better Farm's property. Most of those trees have now arrived! We've been very busy getting the cherries, apricots, paw paws, kiwis, and more in the ground. And we're thrilled to report everything is doing extremely well!
  • Tree-Planting Initiative — We burn our own wood in Better Farm's wood stove all winter long, gleaning much of the fuel from standing-dead trees on the property. To replenish what's been taken—and to encourage cleaner air in general, we've kicked off a strong tree-planting campaign on Better Farm in 2013. To date, we've planted a dozen box elders, 50 white spruces, 10 pines, more than two dozen lilac bushes, and the aforementioned fruit orchard.

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Latest Community Outreach Initiatives

We've been very busy in our community in order to bring the arts and sustainability education to the public. Here's a rundown of those efforts in recent months:
  • Seed-Starting in Redwood's Community Greenhouse — Better Farm, in partnership with Hearts for Youth and the Redwood Neighborhood Association, on April 13 invited all ages to plant provided organic, non-GMO seeds in the community greenhouse.
  • Thompson Park Zoo Earth Day EventNew York State's Thompson Park Zoo on Saturday hosted an Earth Day event that brought together several North Country organizations to deliver an eco-friendly message to zoo visitors throughout the day. The Better Farm and betterArts crew braved the absurdly winter-like day (hail and all) for a few hours to work on an arts 'n' crafts project with kids, distribute information about our upcoming open house and fundraiser, and educate the public about the sustainability outreach we're doing in the community. Click here to see photos!
  • Mustard Seed Natural Market EventBetter Farm and betterArts on May 4 shared information about upcoming programming, sustainability education, and arts outreach with the community—while doing arts 'n' crafts with children—at the Mustard Seed Natural Market's Seventh Annual Earth Day Event. The event featured free samples, eco-friendly and handmade items for sale, product giveaways, fresh food, and local exhibitors. Better Farm had a table set up at the event all day, with activities for kids sponsored by betterArts. In addition, the Mustard Seed ran a Recycling for Charities drive to benefit betterArts. Electronics donated will be recycled—and will support betterArts initiatives in the community.
  • Hamlet-Wide Clean-upBetter Farm teamed up with the Redwood Neighborhood Association again this year to pick up trash along Redwood's main thoroughfare in an annual effort to beautify the hamlet. Participants bagged and sorted garbage and recyclables found along the main thoroughfare of the hamlet's downtown. This year marked the lowest amount of trash picked up—meaning there were fewer people littering throughout the year, and a bigger ongoing effort among residents to keep things looking great.
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Better Farm and betterArts Summer Workshop Schedule
Our list of summer workshops is beginning to come together. There is a suggested $10 donation for scheduled workshops to cover costs of basic materials, ingredients, and any associated instructor fees. Unless otherwise noted, we will provide all necessary materials at the workshop. Be sure to visit www.betterfarm.org/upcoming-workshops for updated information! Here's what we've got planned so far:
  • June 15/Beneficial Bugs and Insect Hotels— Gardens, chemically fertilized lawns, and a lack of dead wood in suburban/urban areas mean less and less habitat for wild bees, spiders, and ladybugs. You can combat this issue by creating an "insect hotel" to attract beneficial insects (read: pollinators and pest controllers) to your yard and garden. Learn how construct an insect hotel utilizing items you can find around your house and in your yard. Students will learn all of the above, and then try their hands at actual construction of an insect hotel. Instructor: Nicole Caldwell
  • June 22/Sauna ConstructionInstructor: Bob Laisdell
  • June 29/Drumming Circle
  • Drum-making
  • July 1, 2/Poetry— Instructors: The Line Assembly Poetry Group
  • July 6/Creative Upcycling and the Art of Transforming Junk — Each student will bring an old, tired furniture or clothing piece to transform into something else that is functional. From sketches to the final product, instructor Stephanie DeJoseph of La Mia Designs will help students visualize, create, transform, and finalize an upcycled piece. Encouraged materials (anyone without the following is not excluded from attending): one piece to upcycle, sewing machine, fabric scraps, old clothing, small furniture pieces. Ages 15 and up
  • Intro to Video Editing — Learn the basics of video editing. Those without video cameras may use their iPhones! Instructor: Holly Boname
  • Yoga for Kids
  • Intro to Violin
  • Songwriting Workshop with Monica Behan —This workshop for ages 15+ will explore the art of songwriting with one of the North Country's most well-established and respected singer-songwriters, Monica Behan of Clayton. Behan's music blends folk, blues and jazz into memorable pop melodies that reflect the harmonic nature of who she is on and off the stage. She entered the world of songwriting at the age of seven when she began translating the visions of her whimsical world outdoors and feelings inside onto the piano to create the miniature melodic tales that continue to characterize her songs.
    Instructor: Monica Behan, http://www.monicabehan.com
  • Canning

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31060 Cottage Hill Road
Redwood, NY 13679
315-482-2536
info@betterfarm.org
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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.

Spring 2013 Newsletter



• Save the Date: Annual Alumni Weekend, Open House, and Fundraiser Set for May 25

• Rundown of Recent Events

• Seeking Instructors for Summer Programming

• Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities
 


Hello, Friends of Better Farm!

The groundhog blew it this year. So much for the early Spring we were all hoping for! The season may be buried under several inches of snow right now, but we're determined to find it in the coming weeks. BetterArts has already started the season off right by partnering with the North Country Goes Green Irish Festival last weekend to help to raise money for various charities (more about that below). As we wait for the snow outside to melt, we're busy setting up programming for the Spring and Summer—and as we continue to expand and grow, so do the projects! To meet the growing demand for fresh organic produce, quality programming, and creative and cultural events in the North Country, we're busy as ever preparing for our best season yet.

Our seeds have arrived amidst all this wintry weather, and we've been overwhelmed by applicants for the betterArts Residency Program and Better Farm Sustainability Education Program. Our volunteer roster sheet has exploded, as well—a good thing, since our gardens are doubling in size yet again, we're adding a fruit and nut orchard, and have several construction projects in our midst. This newsletter will cover the winter projects behind us, spring and summer projects ahead of us, all the information we've got regarding the big open house and fundraiser May 25, and ways you can get on board with all things Better.

If you're in the North Country this April 4, please consider stopping in at a lecture I'll be offering out of the North Country Arts Council Space in Watertown, called "Where Sustainability and Art Intersect." Click here to learn more and register.

Please contact us to schedule a visit or tour, swing through our open house and fundraiser May 25, or visit www.betterfarm.org to find out more about what we're doing.

Until next time, better be.

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm
 


Save the Date: Annual Alumni Weekend, Open House, and Fundraiser Saturday, May 25


Our annual betterArts fundraiser, Better Farm open house, and alumni weekend is scheduled from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 25, 2013, at Better Farm in Redwood, N.Y. This event will be in conjunction with the second annual Artists' Studio Tour. All money raised at the event will directly fund art- and sustainability-related community outreach initiatives in and around Redwood.

The day-long festival will feature live performances by local and regional bands, a gallery showcasing artwork by painters, sculptors, photographers, and more, booths featuring art and handmade items for sale, tours of the Better Farm campus, information about Better Farm and betterArts summer 2013 programming, arts 'n' crafts for kids (and adults!), freshly prepared food, a refreshments tent, and more! Overnight accommodations are available as follows: 
  • Camping (porta potties available) $10/night/person 
  • Bunk in shared room $20/night/person 
  • Private room $42/night
Vacancy is limited, so please reserve your spot early by e-mailing info@betterfarm.org. We are offering accommodations Friday through Monday, or any night therein. We are currently seeking vendors, volunteers, artists, performers, and sponsors for this event. If you are interested in partnering with us for any of the following opportunities, please e-mail info@betterarts.org:
  • VENDORS: We are looking for vendors who would like to set up a table at this event for informational purposes or to sell goods. A one-day vendor's pass is $15.
  • VOLUNTEERS: We need people's help setting up, breaking down, running the refreshments tent, cooking, working in the gallery, and more.
  • ARTISTS: Individuals who would like to put their artwork up in the gallery for sale are encouraged to contact us for the appropriate paperwork. There is no fee to hang your pieces, but betterArts does reserve the right to a 15-percent commission on all sold art.
  • PERFORMERS: Bands, singer-songwriters, storytellers, and other performers are invited to participate in the festivities. We have a small stage in the Art Barn's gallery space and a larger outdoor stage on the second-floor deck overlooking a natural amphitheater.
  • SPONSORS: Sponsors will have their names or business logos included in all press materials and prominently displayed at the event. Sponsorship levels begin at $50.
Better Farm is located at 31060 Cottage Hill Road, Redwood NY, 13679. For more information visit www.betterfarm.org.

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Rundown of Recent Events


We've stayed busy this winter! Here's a quick recap of what we've been up to in the North Country:
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Seeking Instructors for Summer Programming
Do you have a special skill you'd like to share? We're looking for instructors for everything from outdoor survival to bead-making. Whether it's the arts or gardening that you're an expert at, we'd love to hear from you! Arts instructors should visit www.betterarts.org/teach-for-us to download an instructor's form. Those interested in sustainability-related education, please email info@betterfarm.org for more information.

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Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities

We're just getting started on Spring projects, and we need your help! Peruse this list of upcoming volunteer opportunities and North Country events to see where you'd like to get involved. To get on board with any of these activities, please e-mail info@betterfarm.org.
  • Better Orchard — Better Farm is getting a small fruit and nut orchard this Spring! In addition to our Dwarf Reliance Peaches and apple trees already on the property, we will be planting almost two dozen more trees both inside and outside. The list includes: 3-in-1 citrus tree (indoors), Banana Plant (2 indoors), Brown Turkey Fig (2), Carpathian Walnut (2), Chandler Blueberries, Goji Berry, Kiwi Collection (2 females, 1 male), Manchurian Apricot (2), and Paw Paw Tree (3). The planting will happen in May (exact date determined by arrival of immature trees).
  • Lecture Set April 4BetterArts President Nicole Caldwell will present a lecture, "Where Sustainability and Art Intersect", at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at the North Country Arts Council gallery space in Watertown's Public Square. The lecture is part of the arts council's "Lucky Seven Lecture Series", a seven-part installment featuring different takes on the arts. The lectures are slated for seven Thursdays at 7 p.m., costing $7 each. Caldwell's lecture will address the intersection between sustainability, art, and social responsibility. Sustainability issues are steeped in science and fact; but the science of sustainability also involves values-based questions, which may be best answered creatively. Caldwell will share examples of this intersection from several specific projects she has been involved with in her non-profit organization betterArts and and offer insights on how art can provoke people to consider their perceptions of sustainability.
  • Partnership with School Seedling Program Enters Second Year Better Farm is entering its second year of a partnership with the Department of Environmental Conservation's School Seedling Program, which seeks to encourage young people to learn about the natural world and the value of trees in it. We will invite local youngsters this spring to join us for a morning of planting 50 white spruce seedlings on our property, our mission being to provide visitors to Better Farm with the knowledge of how beneficial trees are to the environment. Those interested in participating or volunteering can contact Better Farm.
  • Better Farm to Host International Students This Summer As part of its 2013 programming, Better Farm is partnering with Cultural Homestay International to host two college students from abroad on the Better Farm campus May through September while they work at Bonnie Castle in Alexandria Bay. Cultural Homestay International (CHI) is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1980 to promote international understanding and goodwill through people-to-people exchanges. The belief of CHI's founders was this: The best way to build bridges of friendship and trust among people is to experience directly each others' customs, languages and values. To live, study or work together leads to a transformational experience of acceptance and genuine affection. To that end, Better Farm will house two college students from May through Labor Day while they work in Alexandria Bay at Bonnie Castle. The students, who are studying hospitality overseas, will be part of the more than 250,000 students and young adults from over 100 countries who have participated in CHI's program in the last 30 years
  • Future Volunteer Opportunities — We have many projects coming up (dates to be determined) that we are seeking help with. Get in touch with us if any of the following interest you: hobbit house or earth ship construction, planting seeds in the greenhouse, readying the grounds and gardens, compost bin construction, chicken coop repair and construction, drip irrigation, rainwater catchment, sauna construction, exterior painting, basic carpentry/construction, sign creation.

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Contact Us:

Better Farm
31060 Cottage Hill Road
Redwood, NY 13679
315-482-2536
info@betterfarm.org
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.

Better Farm's Autumn Newsletter

Click here to read the newsletter in your web browser


Hello, Friends of Better Farm!

With summer behind us and winter bearing down, at Better Farm we've used the autumn months to ready our gardens for winter, continue our ongoing project of rehabilitating a bunch of rescued chickens, start some interior renovations, and explore partnership opportunities with area businesses, schools, and organizations. As we enter our fourth year of programming, it's a blessing to be able to look back at what was a record year for us in attendance for workshops, internships, and artist residencies. Our community outreach has hit an all-time high, and we've really begun to make a name for ourselves in this little hamlet along the Canadian border. Creating a true synthesis for sustainability initiatives and artistic expression is a direct result of your support and interest—so thank you, thank you, thank you!

Whether we're splitting wood, installing the groundwork for a hobbit house or mandala garden, dreaming up new educational activities, or lending our voices at community events or in classrooms, —all while continuing our initial mission of giving everyone who passes through this special space the opportunity to seize his or her moments and truly embrace the idea of seeing each hardship—and blessing—as an opportunity to grow, expand, and be better. Thank you to all who have been involved and showed support for these projects! You can learn more about how to get on board with our endeavors below.
Please contact us to schedule a visit or tour, or visit www.betterfarm.org to find out more about what we're doing.

Until next time, better be.

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm
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Better Farm News - Autumn 2012:

• Rundown of Recent Activities

• Newest Additions to Our Flock: Interns & Artists-in-Residence

• Upcoming Initiatives and Projects

• Holiday Shopping for a Great Cause
Rundown of Recent Activities


The last few months have set all kinds of records for community outreach and on-site events. Here's a quick rundown of what we've been up to:
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Newest Additions to Our Flock: This Season's Interns and Artists-in-Residence



Our cast and crew in the last year is as diverse as ever, with artists and interns visiting us from every vocation. Here's a short list of who's visited us since we last checked in:
Interns
Salman Akhtar
Elyna Grapstein
Jackson Pittman

BetterArts Artists-in-Residence
Kristie Hayes BeaulieuKristie Hayes Beaulieu is a high school art teacher and professional visual artist who visited us for two weeks from Syracuse, N.Y. through the betterArts residency program. Her work has been featured in more than a dozen group and solo exhibitions in galleries as far away as Detroit, and her recent "x-ray art series" has been featured on the cover of Academic Medicine and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists' medical publication.
Sally Jane Kerschen-SheppardSally Jane Kerschen-Sheppard is an award-winning playwright, certified yoga instructor, production manager for theatre events, and worker in the not-for-profit sector who joined us for the month of August to work on a new, full-length play.
Kevin Carr—Kevin Carr is a 22-year-old artist from Canandaigua, N.Y., who joined us for the month of September. He attended Alfred University's School of Art and Design to receive a bachelor of fine arts with a minor in women's studies. He has also served as director of Alfred University's Robert C. Turner Student Gallery, and as a teaching assistant at his school's painting department. His work has appeared in several galleries and in print.
Lily Chiu —Lily Chiu is a writer and poet who joined us this month. She is a Stanford University graduate who's alternately worked as a project manager for Boltnet, director of Marketing with eduFire, and senior sales engineer with Omniture. Lily spent her betterArts residency continuing a body of work about contradictions; particularly what it means to be alive through the juxtaposition of nature and human beings. Ultimately this work is moving toward a larger collection of her writing.

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Upcoming Initiatives and Projects

We've got no shortage of upcoming projects in and around Better Farm, from garden designs to interior renovations to education and outreach. Here's what we've got on tap so far...
  • Mandala Garden—The Mandala Garden is a popular permaculture design approach. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning "circle", and the geometric garden design was first proposed by Linda Woodrow in her book The Permaculture Home Garden. The art of Buddhism and Hinduism often takes the mandala form. True to permaculture fashion, the actual mandala shape in a garden application is malleable in accordance with conditions in your own backyard (slope, water runoff, orientation toward the sun). Building a mandala garden is a great way to break up your garden beds into a riot of living colour, allowing easy accessibility and visual interest. It’s circular in shape and has a number of keyhole paths or spokes that invite you to look closer at the assortment of plants on display. Intern Jackson Pittman has taken measurements for a mandala garden at Better Farm, which will be located in the middle of our existing, main garden. He'll have the whole thing mapped out by the time he leaves, making for easy implementation come spring.
  • Hobbit HouseBack in September, a few of us took a hike on Better Farm's property to scout out a perfect location for a hobbit house. One of our favorite potential spots was this, the foundation for the farm's original, 19th-century barn. A few of members of our work crew last month took a chainsaw to the sumac and other trees within the foundation, soon after which we cleared out remaining brush so we would have a blank canvas to work with.For the next step, our chief designer Aaron Youngs will be applying his measurements of the space to determine what we need for tires to build exterior walls, and he'll be consulting with some real-deal architects to create legitimate architectural drawings to work off of. We'll start the bulk of the construction in the spring.
  • Earth Ship—Another project we've been working on, is the creation of our Earth Ship. Started over the summer and continued this fall, the structure will boast tire walls, a sunken floor, and living roof.
  • College-Level Curriculum—We're in the process of speaking with several area and remote colleges and universities about creating an immersion in sustainability program at Better Farm. Students would be able to visit in the spring or fall to gain hands-on experience with things like rainwater catchment, permaculture, and alternative energy. Stay tuned for more information and a syllabus!
  • Outreach with Hospice of Jefferson County—BetterArts will send volunteers to participate in Hospice of Jefferson Country's Time of Holiday Remembrance event from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 at 1398 Gotham St. in Watertown. The holiday remembrance event is for children ages 6 to 12 who have experienced the loss of a loved one and will feature holiday crafts, lunch, and cookie decorating. To RSVP or for more information, contact Joyce Combs at (315) 788-7323 by Dec. 3.
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Holiday Shopping for a Great Cause
This year, use your money and gift-giving prowess to support artists and farmers instead of big box stores and imported goods. Here's a quick list of great gift go-tos:
  • Sponsor a Spent Hen—Back in late August, we adopted 20 "spent hens" from a local egg farm. There, the female birds' confined space didn't allow the ladies to stretch their wings or legs, or fulfill normal behavioral patterns or social needs like scratching in the dirt, chasing bugs, and taking dust baths. This was a sad-looking bunch of birds. As you can imagine, constantly rubbing against the wire cages meant these birds—all of whom we named Rapunzel—lost a lot of feathers; and many of the ladies had lots of bruises and abrasions. In order to reduce injuries resulting from excessive pecking—a behavior that occurs when confined hens are bored, stressed, or frustrated—the front of the laying hens' beaks had been cut off. Since then, we've given the birds plenty of space to run around at Better Farm, scratch in the dirt, learn all about dust baths, and eat to their hearts' content under the bright sun, blue sky, and fresh air. We've fed them a steady diet of layer feed mixed with cracked corn (to help them put on weight against the cooler temperatures) and lots of delicious food scraps from Better Farm's kitchen. Two months have never seemed so critical, or life-altering. It only costs $5/month to sponsor one of our rescued hens!
  • Better Farm MerchandiseClick here to see what we've got!
  • BetterArts MerchandiseClick here to see what we've got!
  • Buy From Local ArtistsClick here to see a rundown of recent visiting artists—many of these links will redirect you to those artists' home pages, where you can commission work or buy already-existing pieces. Or, visit sites like Etsy.com to find all kinds of great, homemade gifts.
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.

December 2011 Newsletter

Happy Holidays from Better Farm!
Our tree is up, the lights are strung around the house, and things have finally quieted down around here after a flurry of spring, summer, and fall activity. We're using this opportunity to revamp our programming, streamline our business plan, ready for our New Year's Eve party, and foster and nurture our networking and outreach efforts.

We've been drafting plans for completion of our Art Barn renovation, fine-tuning our vegetable-preservation methods, organizing toolsheds and greenhouses, getting the garden winter-ready, and upping our involvement in community action. We've also installed an indoor aquaponics system, scooped up a few awards, and made our way onto several local news networks. Thank you to all who have been involved and showed support for these projects, and spread the word about the work we're doing! You can learn more about how to get involved with these endeavors below.

 
Please contact us to schedule a visit or tour, or visit www.betterfarm.org to find out more about what we're doing. From all of us at Better Farm, we wish you a peaceful, happy holiday season.

Viva Better!

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm

Read the full newsletter 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.

September 2011 Newsletter

Better Farm News - September 2011:

• Latest Projects and Community Outreach Efforts
• Better Farm is Going Solar!
• Internship Program Reaches New Heights
• betterArts Hosts Successful Summer Session


Hello, Friends of Better Farm!

 

With all the activity we've seen at Better Farm in the last four months, it's been hard to keep track of how quickly the time was passing. Now here we are in Autumn. Things have quieted down, we've begun stacking wood for the winter, and our gardens have peaked. It's amazing to look around at the progress we've made this summer—including installing a rainwater catchment system, doubling the size of the garden, setting up a new farmstand to accommodate all the fresh, organic produce, making inroads on a homemade, outdoor pizza oven, installing green insulation in the Art Barn, and even going through the process of designing a 10-panel solar setup to power the Art Barn and part of the main house!

We've also upped the ante on our community involvement with my recent nomination to president of the Redwood Neighborhood Association, and the continued, valuable efforts of the people living and working at Better Farm to contribute to the local area through volunteer work in a myriad of disciplines and creative exertions. We're very excited to be able to give back to a community that has welcomed all of us here so openly.
 
Although summer has drawn to a close, our doors are always open to visitors and we are always up to something! Please contact us to schedule a visit or tour, or stay tuned to www.betterfarm.org to find out more about what we're doing.

Viva Better!

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm
Read the rest of this newsletter 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.

Better Farm's Summer 2011 Newsletter



Better Farm News - July 2011:

  • Meet Better Farm's Interns and Volunteers  
  • Our Latest Projects and Community Outreach Efforts 
  • What's Good at the Farm Stand 
  • Featured Artists and Upcoming Events 
  • Future Projects

Hello, Friends of Better Farm!

Summer is in full swing here at Better Farm, with a fresh group of workers and artists, tons of new ideas and projects, and a garden bursting at the seams.

Whether helping to clean up at the Redwood Historical Society, volunteering for the Redwood Neighborhood Association, breaking ground on public art installations, or holding art gallery receptions that are free and open to the public, we've embedded ourselves in the local culture of Redwood and beyond. Our stable of interns, farm volunteers, and artists have come from all over the world to participate in a great experiment of arts and sustainability education, creative expression, and community outreach—and it's paying off beyond our wildest dreams.

Thanks to all who came out in force for our annual open house and fundraiser back in May, and for those who continue showing their support through private donations, attendance at our gallery shows, and by helping us out on the grounds of Better Farm. We truly couldn't do it without you.

Please contact us to schedule a visit or tour or to find out how you can get involved. You can stay in touch on a daily basis by following our blog at blog.betterfarm.org or stopping over at our main site, www.betterfarm.org.

Viva Better!

Nicole Caldwell
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Better Farm


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Better Farm's Interns and Volunteers
From left to right: interns Natasha Pietila, Soon Kai Poh, Elizabeth Musoke, and Jaci Collins
Better Farm owes its gardens and day-to-day operations entirely to the cast of hard-working volunteers and interns who've been calling this little sustainability-center-that-could home. Interns Natasha Pietila, Jaci Collins, Soon Kai Poh, and Elizabeth Musoke have since June been running Better Farm's herb, vegetable, and fruit gardens, and greenhouse. The group has also taken care of green building projects, chemical-free pesticides, nurturing Better Farm's chickens, baking breads and delicious meals, community outreach projects, and even brewing and bottling beer and wine. Some quick bios on this adventurous, ambitious bunch:
  • Jaci Collins   BS, sustainability, Arizona State University; Associate of Arts, Kent State University
Jaclyn is a fresh-faced graduate from Arizona State University's prestigious sustainability program. She's specifically interested in sustainable farming and ecosystems, and plans to earn a master's degree in agriculture from Oregon State University. Jaclyn's extensive research into food systems and subsequent environmental degradation, food insecurity, and obesity has fueled her efforts and interests in local food production, distribution, consumption, composting systems, and waste. Since being at Better Farm, she's become very interested in starting community gardens in cities.
Natasha is a 22-year-old student at University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Originally from the Bay Area, this California girl is interested in all things green and sustainable; including organic small-scale farming and gardening, general farm management, alternative building, rainwater catchment, community outreach, outdoor survival, and environmental public policy.
Carleton College student Soon Kai spent 22 months after high school in the Singapore military, 6 months working in a bakery, and volunteer farming in Singapore and Japan. Then he enrolled in a liberal arts college in the States, and, a few months later, got in touch with us. Talk about well-rounded!
Elizabeth grew up in Kenya and moved to the United States to study at the College of Architecture, Planning and Design at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. She'll finish up her masters of regional and community planning in May of 2012; but in the meantime, we are fortunate enough to have her here with us.

For more information about Better Farm's sustainability internship program, click here.

Joining our interns in July are Sara Hawkins and Mollie Cross-Cole, volunteering at Better Farm through the WWOOF program (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). As you can imagine, having such a dynamic force running day-to-day goings-on at Better Farm means a lot is geting done. Which brings us to our next topic...

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Latest Projects and Community Outreach Efforts
  
There's no time to be bored at Better Farm. Some of our latest projects undertaken by the crew here include:
  • Annual Open House & Fundraiser  Better Farm's annual soiree was a hit this year. The event featured a big gallery showing in our newly renovated Art Barn, performances by several local bands, a group art project that will be installed in downtown Redwood this summer, a raffle, tours of the grounds, backyard cookout, and even some hula hooping, dancing, and a bonfire.
  • Volunteering at the Redwood Historical Society  Interns Natasha Pietila and Jaci Collins stopped by the Redwood Historical Society a few weeks ago to help clean the building and preserve the local artifacts stored there.
  • A Gate for Better Farm's Main Garden  Interns Soon Kai Poh, Jaci Collins, Elizabeth Musoke, and Natasha Pietila joined forces with Better Farm's carpenter-extraordinaire in residence Mark Huyser to design and build a brand-new gate for our garden.
  • Gallery Opening for Erica Hauser  Visiting painter Erica Hauser spent all of June at Better Farm through the betterArts residency program. Her work was wonderful and varied; two points made obvious June 28 when she filled the first floor of Better Farm's art barn with her pieces for the general public to enjoy. Click here for images and the full write-up.
  • Rainwater Catchment System for Greenhouse  Intern Elizabeth Musoke researched a rainwater harvesting system for Better Farm to implement at the greenhouse. Utilizing a simple gutter system, downspout, and reappropriated plastic barrels, she's put together a harvesting method that will provide plant seedlings plenty of fresh water.
  • Mural in the Birdhouse During her stay at Better Farm, Erica Hauser left us with a lovely gift: a four-wall mural in the birdhouse! Click here to see photos of her work.
  • DIY Projects  The interns and WWOOFers have teamed up to put together an herb-drying rack for Better Farm's herbs, several new raised beds for plants and herbs, signage for the Art Barn and garden, homemade breads, and beer and wine.
 

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What's Good at the Farm Stand


We're installing a permament farm stand at Better Farm next week! Here's a short list of what will be available for sale (contingent on seasonal ripeness and what we've got cooking!):
  • Vegetables : Radishes, onions, lima beans, peas, bush beans, cucumbers (all varieties), squash (all varieties), corn, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, brussels sprouts, beets, carrots, celery, leeks, pumpkins, and asparagus
  • Fruits : Watermelon, canataloupe, raspberries, tomatoes (all varieties), and blueberries
  • Herbs : Parsley, oregano, cilantro, basil, dill, amaranth, summer savory, chickory, salsify, chamomile, eucalyptus, mustard greens, chives, and mint
  • Baked Goods : Breads, pies, and pastries
  • Bath and Body : Biodegradable soaps, shampoos, laundry and dish detergent
  • Miscellaneous : As always, we have Better Farm T-shirts and betterArts mugs available for sale (to have one shipped to you, please e-mail info@betterfarm.org).
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Featured Artists and Upcoming Events
Here's a quick run-down of the artists who've made Better Farm a more creative space so far this summer:
  • Joetta Maue is a Brooklyn-based artist who excels in embroidery:


In the last week we've also been fortunate enough to have Marty Weishaar and Meredith Kooi join our ranks as artists-in-residence. We have several art openings and performance pieces scheduled throughout July, August, and September; check back on our blog for times and dates! All events held at Better Farm are free and open to the public.

To learn more about the betterArts residency program, click here.

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Upcoming Projects

We're in the fundraising stage for a few upcoming projects, namely:
  • Installing an exterior staircase to the second floor of the Art Barn
  • Constructing a small outbuilding out of straw bales
  • The construction of a small outbuilding specifically for Better Farm's interns
  • A betterArts project that would offer free music and art lessons with professional teachers to local individuals free of charge
To donate to any of the above causes, please contact us at info@betterfarm.org.

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Interest Piqued?

Just drop us a line at info@betterfarm.org to learn more, share your ideas, make a donation, or find out other ways you can get involved. Until next time, better be!


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Better Farm
31060 Cottage Hill Road
Redwood, NY 13679
315-482-2536
info@betterfarm.org

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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.