Amid the rolling hills of Columbia County, about two hours north of New York City on a lush piece of property drenched in history, lies Peter J. Harrington’s Ten Barn Farm, a 1.5-acre organic vegetable and flower farm that includes a 225-year-old restored farmhouse.
Harrington, 30, has always loved the idea of growing things, but it was his experience working in social therapy for Camphill Communities California in Soquel, a residential facility for people with special needs, that helped propel him into full-time farming. He says his time at Camphill was his first experience farming, but that it led to a desire to learn more about agriculture. He got his wish.
“I only ever worked on farms in California prior to starting Ten Barn Farm,” he says.
The Princeton, New Jersey, native worked at Camphill Village in Copake, New York, (just down the road from Ten Barn Farm) for a sixth-month stint back in 2006 and then went on to work at the community in Soquel for more than two years. Camphill’s philosophy, based in part on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, revolves around providing special needs people with a place to “live, learn, and work with others in healthy social relationships based on mutual care and respect,” according to the organization.
Camphill also practices biodynamic farming, a holistic agricultural practice that goes beyond organic farming, and is also based on Steiner’s teachings.
“I learned some biodynamic practices there, most of which I have yet to implement here on my farm, though I would like to a bit more in the future,” Harrington says in an email. This season he plans on using some of these methods on his crops.
Harrington’s three-year-old family farm, which he refers to as a “market garden,” has a community-supported agriculture program (CSA), supplies local chefs with seasonal produce, and has a presence at two farmers markets in the area. Harrington says he also has plans to host catered events and farm to table dinners in the future. The farm is listed as a historic landmark and and is also under a conservation easement through the Columbia Land Conservancy, which means it will remain as beautiful in the future as it is today.