ALLEGANY, NY – Families dressed in warm clothing gathered at Canticle Farm on a recent chilly Saturday for an Earth Day celebration, eager to learn about the organic farm and to participate in the activities inside the barn and outside on the farm.
The celebration at the farm’s 3835 S. Nine Mile Road location brought “people together over a common interest which is the ecology and food which we provide,” said farm manager Mark Printz, who gave tours of the farm during the two-hour event.
The farm’s Community Supported Agriculture director Rhonda Berman talked about the different crops – such as golden beets – grown on the farm and demonstrated and shared recipes on how to make chocolate beet cake and massaged kale salad.
Local yoga instructor Jessie Lampack Slattery conducted three sessions of children’s yoga.
Earth Day committee member Kelly Hendrix showed children, parents and grandparents how to put together make-and-take upcycled wind chimes using pop cans and bottles, flatware and other recycled items.
And farm staff member Emily Johnson conducted Start-a-Seed, instructing participants about choosing seeds, planting them and caring for what they planted.
“We get people to step out of their comfort zone and get people to try new things,” Printz said.
The farm, which offers 45 different crops with hundreds of varieties year round, has a second location: a market at 3809 Old State Road open Tuesdays from 2 to 6 p.m.
“The key to our farm is diversification,” Printz said. “We diversify in the product that we offer and we also diversity in the way that we market it. We have the CSA share, the farm stand and during the summer we attend the local farmer’s market in Olean.”
The Franciscan Sisters of Allegany founded Canticle Farm in 2001, Sister Anne Rothmeier, the first president of the farm, said.
“Our community had a peace and justice commission,” Rothmeier recalled. “Some of us went to an Earth conference and that’s really where the seed was planted because we found out about organic farms.”
The farm started with 10 acres and now has 22 acres on and off, Rothmeier added.
“Over the course of time we got the barn in 2005, and little by little the greenhouse and the high tunnels,” Rothmeier said. “The high tunnels have made the difference that we can go all year. Now we grow our greens in the winter.”
The high tunnels are an increasingly popular trend for growers, and at Canticle Farm the different greens grown in them include chard, spinach, lettuce and kale.
Sister Melissa Scholl, current farm president, said she was delighted by the turnout.
“Because people have embraced the farm from the beginning, the farm has been able to financially grow,” Scholl said.
And Scholl credited the Earth Day celebration to the farm’s promotions committee.
“All I had to do was show up,” she said, adding that their five-year strategic plan will help Canticle Farm become even more sustainable.
A week after the event, volunteer Kelly Pope Keller recalled that her daughter, 4-year-old Emma Keller, enjoyed doing yoga and making an upcylced wind chime.
“She has been showing it to everyone that has been by our house since the event,” Keller said.