Stone Barns at 10

by Jill Isenbarger

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is the product of a collaborative experiment. Its seeds were planted in the 1990s by the Rockefeller family and a host of partners—historians, conservation planners, organic farmers—who came together to set a common vision and purpose for the land.

Yet it was anything but common in those days to establish a working farm practicing resilient, transparent, four-season agriculture and open to the public as a hub of learning, creativity and experimentation. But that is just what our founders grew here at Stone Barns. They envisioned a place where people could connect with the land and farmers; a place that would help to inspire people to grow and eat sustainably grown food. With the inclusion of Blue Hill at Stone Barns on site, Stone Barns Center had a partner that would help to bring the food grown and raised here to life.

Ten years later, a lot has changed. Around the country, more Americans are now aware of the environmental problems spawned by industrial agricultural practices; of the human-health problems linked to poor diet; of food justice and animal welfare issues—and they are asking for more nutritious, sustainably grown food. Public awareness and demand for sustainable foods have risen sharply.

Over the past decade, Stone Barns Center has been at the leading edge of that wave of change. On the farm, our work and scope have grown beyond an initial focus on public awareness and children to include the Growing Farmers Initiative, our program to educate and train beginning farmers and help them get the resources to succeed. And we’ve branched out to embrace and encourage on-farm experimentation— trialing and testing different growing practices and tools that can benefit other small and midsize growers, as well as bring us all nutritious and delicious new foods to enjoy.

We’re proud to be part of an expanding community practicing and advocating for resilient, sustainable agriculture. Thank you for your belief in our mission and for joining us on this journey.