What do you do when you have years of experience in the realms of youth education in organic farming as well as bicycling, and you have a non-profit called Sustainable Youth Development with a broad goal of providing fitness and sustainability learning opportunities to kids, and you own a dairy farm with plenty of land and basic infrastructure for programming - in a location in Central New York where there are no current opportunities for youth to participate in garden/farm education or bicycling programs?
Well, create the programs I say!
Ben Turner founded a youth development bike racing program (cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing) in 2004, which has grown into the organization Sustainable Youth Development to focus on youth development, physical fitness and sustainability education. Ben also spent 4 years guiding middle and high school students in the Cultiva Youth Project, as they learned gardening, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills as part of the non-profit Growing Gardens.
Now, having moved to Ilion, NY, in the Mohawk Valley region, it is apparent that there are not youth bicycling or youth gardening programs nearby. Sustainable Youth Development's goal is to work with the two Elementary schools and one Middle school in the Central Valley School District (all just 10 minutes from the farm), and the Mohawk Valley YMCA, to develop agriculture and bicycling programs that encompass 1) classroom/at school workshops, 2) after school club activities on the farm, and 3) summer camp programming.
In 2021, Sustainable Youth Development is finally!! (this project has been ready to launch since pre-pandemic) going to offer educational and recreational opportunities for kids in grades 3-8 that are focused on organic agriculture and bicycling.
Organic agriculture education will cover the following topics:The carbon cycle, composting, and soil fertility Greenhouse seed starting to plant care to harvesting Nature walks in pasture and woods Local food connections and creating healthy recipes from the garden Organic cow and calf care and dairy production
Bicycling education will focus on the following topics:Bike safety and trail etiquette Bike care and maintenance Health and fitness Off-road skills Winter trail riding
Currently, youth in our area do not have access to gardening and farming education programs or bicycling education and safe, year-round cycling exercise opportunities. This project will positively affect local youth by providing new opportunities to learn about sustainability and healthy lifestyle choices, increase physical activity year-round, and develop life-long agricultural and bicycling skills.
So far, we've started a small dairy farm with the goal of producing milk and other dairy products for local families and providing the economic foundation for the non-profit's educational programming.
We currently are selling a small amount of raw milk to local families, but have been waiting for an entire year so far for the opportunity to process our milk at a new "incubator" creamery at a nearby State University (finally opening in January!) - which will allow us to begin selling milk through several natural food stores, a farmers' market, and a home delivery service.
To prepare for programming, we have started the demolition of the old, dilapidated greenhouse, begun fixing up the harvest station, and been preparing garden beds. Finally, this past summer we worked on the backbone of a trail system using the cow lanes and some old logging roads, and set up a bike storage/workshop area.
Your donation will help us achieve our goal of having a strong economic foundation with the dairy business and be able to provide a safe, educational, and inspiring farm to be utilized for the bicycling and agriculture youth programs.
This fundraising campaign is a year-long endeavor with several phases:
Phase 1) January-March 2021
-->Address our aging barn and milkhouse facility. Demolition of unsafe portion of barn roof. New roof and new interior ceiling on milkhouse. Electrical repairs and upgrades for barn and milkhouse. Total project cost = $6,000
-->Increase the size of our milking herd by adding 8 cows from our mentor farmers who recently retired. Cost of cows = $10,000
--> Purchase fleet of youth-size Fat Bikes for all season trail riding, $8,000
--> Purchase essential farm equipment from our mentor farmers: a 50 horsepower John Deere tractor to move and feed large hay bales @ $7,000; a smaller tractor and manure spreader combo to be able to help with barn cleaning and manure spreading every day @ $5,000. Total equipment cost = $12,000
Phase 2) April-May 2021
--> Purchase and construction of a new greenhouse, $7,000
--> Development of mountain bike skills course with Pinnacle Trail Design, $5,000
--> Equipment purchase from our mentor farmers: A second larger size tractor with both a brush mower and a hay mower @ $8,000; a grass chopper and feeder wagon @ $4,000; a disc for cultivating the garden and field crop areas @ $1000. Total equipment cost = $13,000
Phase 3) June-October 2021
--> repairs and replacement of barn roof, $15,000
--> fencing and gate upgrades and signage added around the farm and woods to make the trail system more user-friendly, $4,000