Despite the heat and humidity of late June, work commenced on an improved cow lane leading to Hawthorne Valley Farm’s fields on the north side of Harlemville Road. For many years, the Farm has used two lanes to access those fields. However, increased use by students, campers, and staff along with stretches of wet ground on one lane made it less ideal for the cows to use. Additionally, the proximity of part of the lane to our stream increased muddiness, posing soil and water quality issues and negative health effects on our herd. By consolidating the two lanes into one dryer, more visible lane, we are addressing both issues of physical safety at the road crossing and the health of our environment and herd.

To make this project a reality, we secured a grant from New York State through Columbia County Soil & Water. We are immensely grateful for the support from their staff. Special thanks also to Paul Burfeind and the team at Burfeind & Son Excavating for their excellent work on the lane, laboring even through the 90+ degree heat.

In the coming weeks, our farmers will install fencing along the new lane. Next spring, we will put the finishing touches on the project by planting woody perennials along it, as well as along the old cow lane by the stream, transforming it into an expanded riparian corridor and part of an Ecology Trail. This trail is being developed in collaboration with students from Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School’s Ecology Club. This work is also partially funded by the farm’s enrollment in the federal Conservation Stewardship Program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.