Tomatoes from Berry Brook Farm

Local Farmers to Present Sustainability Lecture at Hartwick College

February 8, 2013

Have you ever thought about farming as a career, lifestyle, or summer job? Are you curious about common farming experiences or how to start a farm on a shoestring? Do you want to know more about local farming opportunities? 

On Tuesday, February 19 at 7 p.m., Hartwick College will welcome Eleanor Blakeslee-Drain and Patrick Hennebery, who will give a talk titled "From the Ground Up: Beginning Farmers in the Catskills." The talk, which is part of the Conversations at the Lake sustainability discussion series, will be held in the Strawbale House at Hartwick's Pine Lake Environmental Campus. This event is free, and the public is invited to attend.

Eleanor Blakeslee-Drain and Patrick Hennebery operate Berry Brook Farm in Walton, NY. During their lecture, they will discuss their experiences as interns, apprentices, and new farm owners and operators. Blakeslee-Drain will also share information on programs and resources available for local beginning farmers, including Catskills CRAFT and Catskills FarmLink.

Jenna Rodrigues '14, Biology and Environmental Science and Policy student at Hartwick College, will also present material during the discussion. A Portland, ME native, Jenna came to Hartwick with an interest in sustainable agriculture, education, nutrition, and human rights. Following an internship at Stony Creek Farmstead in Walton, NY last summer, she became the Director of Educational Programming at the farm. Jenna is also currently an intern at the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship in Oneonta, NY. 

In 2012, with two seasons of farming experience and $6,000, Eleanor Blakeslee-Drain started a vegetable farm on her family's land near Roscoe, NY.  She sold her produce at the Roscoe Farmer's Market, to local stores, restaurants, and caterers, and through a 10-week CSA program. As the Farmhearts Fellow, Blakeslee-Drain also works on two programs for beginning farmers, Catskills CRAFT and Catskills FarmLink.

Patrick Hennebery is now in his second year of managing vegetable production at Stony Creek Farmstead in Walton, NY.  In 2012, he entered into a profit sharing agreement with Stony Creek owners Dan and Kate Marsiglio. Under the agreement, Hennebery would live at Stony Creek and lease one acre of land for vegetable production. 

The arrangement was so wildly successful that this year Hennebery is teaming up with Blakeslee-Drain, who is his fiancée, to expand production to almost three acres while still working cooperatively with the Marsiglios. Blakeslee-Drain and Hennebery's new venture, Berry Brook Farm, will serve customers through farmers' markets and an expanded CSA program.

This event is sponsored by Hartwick College's Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies and the 2012-2013 Tools for Life Campus Theme. For more information, contact Dan Morse at or 607-431-4666.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes an experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a distinctive January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for not just their first jobs, but for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Valerie Capullo
Phone: 607-431-4031