NEW FARM IN TOWN? – October 2015

By Buffy Calvert

Cyndi Wright of Dirty Girl Farm on Perch Lake Road presented her plans for moving the operation to the John Gregg land across from Town Hall at a Public Hearing on Monday, September 14th. The contiguous property owners, notified by certified mail, and other audience members were all enthusiastic supporters of the move. John Hopkins, President of the Andes School Board, and Robert Chakar, ACS Superintendent, have given their blessing.

Goats would graze on the hillside beyond a buffer fence 35ʹ from the stream. Cyndi and her husband, Lester Bourke, plan to milk the goats in a milking parlor visible to interested visitors in the barn John Gregg has renovated. The audience could then watch the whole process of sterilization, cooling, and cheese making. They hope to offer classes for ACS, 4H children and interested adults. Jim Darling, Planning Board member, suggested she buy the milk of his Jersey cows for ricotta and mozzarella. Her eyes lit up.

Other members of the Planning Board: Frank Winkler, Chair, John Reynolds, Ed Callahan, Art Reed and Alex Adelson, and the County Planning Board representative asked pertinent questions as Cyndi showed her maps and schematic designs for the farm, including a retail shop in the barn and parking areas. The Planning Board actually has jurisdiction only over the retail space and parking since the state “Right to Farm Law” (section 308 of the New York Code) governs the farming operation and “allows them to do anything they can do,” as chairman Winkler pointed out to this correspondent in a phone interview. However, the Board has walked over the land with her and given advice.

Cyndi offered letters from LaFever and two others who agreed to haul manure if that should be necessary. To house the goats over the winter, a smaller barn will be built to replace the existing garage. They now milk 26 on their 3-acre lot on Perch Lake Road but would like to increase the flock. A representative from a possible funder, the Whole Farm Plan, said, “For Cyndi’s application to rise to the top of the pile of applications, she will need to increase the amount of manure. That’s the criteria we use.” And although she expects to increase the herd, she asserted, “I value quality over quantity. People over programs.”

Since, by some fluke, the required notice was not put in the Walton Reporter (Andes’ paper of record), a second hearing will be announced for 7:30 pm on October 14th. (N.B. a Wednesday, since the second Monday is Columbus Day.) No action was taken at the September meeting. Approval is expected at the County Planning Board in early October and then at the Andes Planning Board on the 14th. ~