Exemplary: Serving as a pattern. Deserving imitation because of excellence. Commendable.
Back in 1978, Marlene and I attended Alfred State college here in New York. I was in the building trades program. She was in landscape design. On our first day of school we saw a notice posted in the dorm about a weekly Bible study.
We made it a point to go and discovered that the Bible study was led by Robert Love, an older man who happened to be the school’s Dean of Allied Health. Dean Love took it upon himself to initiate and lead a Bible study for students every year. It was an informal, private, evening gathering at a comfortable lounge in one of the school’s buildings.
Very few students showed up for the Bible study and even fewer attended regularly through the year. There was, however, a core group of five or six of us. Those times of nondenominational, Christian fellowship were an important part of our State College experience. Indeed, they were a refreshing countercultural refuge in the midst of a dominant social culture dedicated to typical college bacchanalian revelry.
We found Dean Love to be a man of wisdom, sincerity, warmth and integrity. He was an encourager, and a friend. In short, he was a literal Godsend. And we loved him dearly.
One of the other students in our close little core group was a girl named Dotty, who was going to school to be a nurse. She became involved with a church and Christian coffeehouse there in the town of Alfred and that’s how she came to meet Jerry Snyder. Jerry was a local dairy farmer and had recently graduated from Alfred’s Ag Program.
A couple years out of college, Jerry & Dotty married, settled into Jerry’s family’s farmstead and started a family of their own. Over the years we lost touch with the Snyders, but they have always been special to us.
Well, I was recently browsing through the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s new York directory of farms. I saw a few other farms I am familiar with, including Scott Terry's. Then Marlene suggested that I look and see if maybe the Snyder’s farm was in there.
Lo and behold, there was Gerald & Dorothy Snyder and their Sunny Cove Farm in Alfred Station, New York. And they had a web site. I wasted no time in checking out their site and I discovered An Exemplary Farm.
To my way of thinking, an exemplary farm is a family farm, meaning it is operated by a whole family working together. Beyond that, the exemplary farm is small and diversified in its production, and it focuses on marketing its goods direct to the community around it. The exemplary farm would also employ sustainable farming practices.
I saw all of this in Sunny Cove Farm. Jerry & Dotty and their seven children produce organic raw milk, organic maple syrup, organic grassfed beef, and organic apples on their farm. It was exciting and inspiring to see what our old friends have done in the last 25 years.
I invite you to stop by their web site and see what I mean. Be sure to check out all the links at the top of their home page: Sunny Cove Farm
Also, for those of you who are diary farmers, you will want to read the Rodale Institute article about Jerry and his quest for the best quality raw milk. According to the article, Jerry started his grass based dairy back in 1978. I find that remarkable. I wasn’t aware that anyone was focusing on grass-based dairy farming back then. I think Jerry is one smart farmer!
Here are a couple excerpts from the Rodale article:
“I don’t dip teats” after milking, as is usually done with a disinfectant to prevent infection that can lead to mastitis. “Hot water and organic soap keeps the udder soft and supple, and that’s the best protection,” says Snyder.
“I don’t know much [about fixing sick cows], but I don’t have to know much because my cows are healthy – and I just want to keep it that way,” he says.
"Jerry Snyder, with his wife, Dorothy, say seeing milk leave the farm in jars and cars rather than a tanker truck has added more than dollars per hundredweight to the farm’s income. It’s put the family in relationship with customers who value them as providers of high-quality food."*****
The Snyder family is just one of many exemplary small farms all across America. They are what professor John Ikerd calls the New American Farmers. I have written of this kind of farming in a previous essay titled: Broken Limbs & Grant Gibbs