My name is Chris Schmitt and my family and I are proud owners of 60 acres we call The Philosophy Family Farm; our slogan is "...we grow family"! We are located 20 minutes south of Ithaca and Cornell University in the Finger Lakes Region of central New York. We recently became a NY State Certified organic tree farm with 18,000 trees of many varieties of conifers; we bought this property (with our 1860 farmhouse) in 2016 -- for years it had been a neglected, monoculture tree farm, and it needed, and still needs, a lot of work to make it a sustainable property and family business for us and our family's future generations. Since 1860, the property had unsuccessfully served as a monocrop for corn, turkeys, cows, and then pigs before the latest installment of Christmas trees starting in the late 1970s; all of these attempts failed due to the extremely poor, clay-rich soil as well as the poor agricultural practices of the time. Despite this, the property is absolutely stunning and provides multiple ecosystems including hardwood and conifer forests, meadows, wetlands, two large stocked ponds, and a sizeable creek; our topography varies by several hundred feet from the hilltops to the west to the low-lying creek in the east. My teenage son has identified over 97 species of bird on our property! My teenage daughter has excavated amazing artifacts around the property, from glass telegraph insulators to iron ice picks. My wife, an environmental educator, enjoys creating family activity guides and a virtual farm stand with materials from and about the farm that focus on family engagement with nature and each other.
My family of four each appreciates certain aspects of permaculture and sustainability... including the history and culture of the property (People Care), the unique ecology and sustainable agricultural opportunities (Earth Care), the philosophical and educational context of the farm and farming practices as a means to explore the significance of gender roles, matrilineal stewardship and sustainability from a family perspective, and finally the finances of permaculture (Fair Shares) in creating a family business that not only supports the economic needs of an individual family but also supports a Family/Local/Global economy for generations to come.
I am excited to learn and collaborate with others in this course (along with my family) as we set up our farm for the next generation to inherit!