Stonewall Preserve at Thanksgiving Farm
A new community is being developed just seven miles from the Harris, NY campus. Stonewall Preserve is both a livestock and crop production farm and home to Center residents who live and work together, helping to bring a historic farm to life again.
Stonewall Preserve in Hurleyville, NY is home to a growing community of active residents situated among beautiful vistas and rich pastures ringed by Revolutionary-era stone walls. Most of the open land is permanent pasture for grazing, but there is cultivatable land, forest and wetlands. The remarkable stone walls built by past generations of hard-working farmers and maintained by The Center’s own crew are the signature feature of the property.
Livestock at Stonewall Preserve
Keeping animals enriches the lives of Center residents, provides meaningful work, and aids in the development of the organic farm. The Center’s herd of Chiangus cattle, a blend of Italian Chianina and Angus breeds, produce a particularly lean and healthy beef. The unique post and beam barn they inhabit combines the best of traditional methods with new technology in a facility that respects the needs and nature of the animals. The Center also houses growing herds of free-range pigs and sheep cared for by the residents of Stonewall.
Laying hens are now a part of the management scheme at Thanksgiving Farm. The hens are located at Stonewall Preserve, the main base of farm animal production.
Rolling hen houses and green pastures allow the chickens forage freely to supplement their daily nutrient requirements. Grasses, legumes and insects along with organic grains fill the hen’s nutritional needs as they roam the large pastures. The eggs produced from this diet have a bright orange yolk with a rich taste.
The Poultry Program assists with the fertility needs of the farm. Soil is a living organism that must be fed. The manure produced by the hens breaks down quickly and is readily available to the soil microbes and root systems of plants. A hen also scratches the soils looking for something to eat which in turn adds organic material to the strata which increases plant growth and moisture retaining capability to the ground.
Education and Day Habitation groups reap many rewarding hours activity taking care of the hens. Activities include feeding, collecting eggs, grading and packaging eggs and making sure that the eggs are delivered to the warehouse for distribution to Food Services.
Honeybees at The Center for Discovery
The Center for Discovery has been maintaining beehives for over 10 years. Our apiaries located in Hurleyville and Harris total 30 hives.
We manage our bees organically. The hives are not administered antibiotics or fed any processed sugar to build honey stores. Organic treatments for mites and disease are administered when appropriate; however more emphasis is placed on promoting health rather than fighting disease. Additionally, all the queens are breed naturally.
From early spring to late fall, there are flowers for the bees to forage on. Because of our plant diversity of vegetable crops, flowers, and herbs, along with our many acres of wild plants, our bees have nectar and pollen to forage for the whole growing season.
The bees provide pollination services for our vegetable crops as well as our herbs and flowers in our healing gardens. We also harvest hive products such as honey, wax, pollen, and propolis. However, our primary goal for managing the hives is not for our benefit. Our primary goal is bee health, followed by pollination services they render for us, and lastly any excess honey they may produce for extraction.
Day habilitation projects include assembling and painting beekeeping equipment, bottling honey, labeling jars, and collecting propolis.