A Message from the Executive Director
We are in a unique time and place in the history of Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center. One year ago, we transitioned from a farm with a social mission, to a nonprofit, mission-driven organization consisting of our farm, and our research and education center.
Many folks have assumed that Cedar Circle was already operating as a nonprofit organization due to its char-itable nature. When Will and Kate took over leadership in 2000, the farm was founded as a “community farm.” Their vision, similar to ours today, was to create a place where people could gather, learn, and organize their efforts in activism to build support for organic farming; prioritize food security and equality; demand GMO labeling; and ban pesticides so that our waters, air, and soil stay free from poison.
Building on this vision, Cedar Circle has now fully committed to transitioning all of our organic production to climate-focused, regenerative organic production. This means we are making soil health the top of our priorities because we know that healthier soils mean healthier food, healthier people and a healthier planet.
The basic principle of regenerative farming is to cultivate the natural ecosystem in the soil. Regenerative farming builds soils by allowing fungus, bacteria, and invertebrates to multiply and become reestablished, a process accomplished by feeding these soil-dwellers and by leaving their environment undisturbed. That last part is the tricky piece. For many years, organic farmers have used tilling, or soil disruption, to knock back weeds, loosen compacted soils and “make it easier” for our cultivars to outcompete native “weeds.” In this process, incredible soil ecosystems have been pulverized and the soil has lost the benefits of fungus, bacteria, and invertebrate nutrient cyclers.
Most farmers by nature are researchers. They test different methods they think will be effective and efficient for production and yield. At Cedar Circle, our farmers are no different. In the last fifteen years, we have conducted our own trials on uses of different cover crops, on the use of biochar in our soils, and on other techniques we think may help us to produce high quality fruits and vegetables. With our new and formal commitment to regenerative agriculture, research at Cedar Circle has shifted. Starting now, the results of our research will help guide our decision-making process, but will also provide data that we can share with other farmers as they examine the benefits of regenerative agriculture to their farms and to the planet.
The goal of our research is ultimately to mitigate climate change by sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil. We’re not alone in this work. We have collaborated with and continue to expand partnerships with researchers around the northeast and in California to test regenerative methods. We’ve received grants from USDA, the Bronner Foundation, and the ReGen Fund. We’ve also received generous gifts from individual donors who believe in our work.
We hope that you will join them and consider supporting our work with a donation this fall. With your financial support, we can ensure that our research continues at the rapid pace needed to help make a key difference as soon as possible.
Outside of our commitment to research, Cedar Circle’s emphasis on education programs has been strengthened with the transition to operating as a nonprofit.
We believe that alongside our efforts to promote a regenerative-focused industry, our role is to provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn about the impact regenerative farming can have on our lives and our community, both locally and globally.
The Education Center’s programming now reaches participants ages 2 and up and continues to grow. We’ve created wholesome, farm-based programs for kids of all ages that focus on building healthy relationships with food and understanding the interconnectedness of our natural world as well as our food production’s dependence on healthy ecosystems. Aside from being fun, children’s explorations through the forest, adventures along the riverbank, and games between the fields cultivate a strong sense of stewardship of the environment and of each other.
Our commitment to education extends further than the programs that our kids attend - it appears in everything that we do on the farm. Harkening back to the original vision for Cedar Circle as a place for gathering and learning together, our passion for education is present in our staff’s interactions with customers in the farmstand and on the property, self-guided farm tour, public programming, informational signage, weekly newsletters, and the ways in which our customers come together as a community to learn from each other.
Our partnership with Willing Hands continues to flourish: this year, Cedar Circle farmers cultivated 2 acres of vegetables, equalling about 25,000 pounds of food donated to Willing Hands. We believe everyone should have access to healthy, fresh vegetables, and we are proud to commit our resources - both human and financial - to this partnership. Our financial commitment to growing food for Willing Hands is approximately $18,000 annually.
As we wind down the growing season and transition into the winter months, the farm is as it always has been: a beautiful landscape that offers space for all of us to have healthy, relaxing experiences with friends and family - perhaps while snacking on a scone and sipping a maple latte or picking flowers in our cut flower garden. While cultivating connections with each other, Cedar Circle also reconnects us to our agrarian heritage and reminds us of our relationship with natural ecosystems as a means to nurture stewardship.
You have supported us as dedicated customers, as participants in our programs, as believers in our work, and as lovers of our food. We hope that your confidence in our work and vision will inspire you to give a gift to our annual appeal so that we can continue to expand our community outreach and education, continue to research and improve regenerative farming practices, and continue to build community connections and environmental stewardship.
Our gratitude for your support in the past, and in the future cannot be overstated. We are here because of your contributions to our organization then and now. Donations can be made with the enclosed envelope, by visiting our website and using the donate button at the top left corner of the home page, or by giving us a phone call. Your contribution will help us secure a vibrant and productive future in 2022 and beyond.
Eric M. Tadlock