About the Farm
Apple Pond Farm and Renewable Energy Education Center is about two hours from New York City, situated in the Catskill Mountains of Sullivan County.
The Farm Today
On Earth Day, April 23, 2023, a tornado hit Sullivan County. In less than 5 minutes, A cellphone warning told us to move to the basement. In 15 minutes the tornado hit us. For a few minutes we heard lots of wind. No people or animals were hurt. Winds of over 100 mph lifted the house up and dropped it down in a slightly different place. The roof of the barn was torn off. Our solar panels on the garage and house will cracked and the 120 foot wind turbine was riped out of the ground. Most wooden and wire fencing was pulled up. All 9 horse sheds, several sheep, goat and chicken shelters were tipped over and tossed hundreds of feet away. The winds tore hundreds of trees from the ground. Those along the drive way were destroyed and entry to the farm was impossible. There was no electricity, no water.
The electric company and local fire departments came immediately. They coped with electric and wifi wires down and made it possible for us to open the doors to our drive way.
The next day about 75 friends and neighbors came to bring food and water. Our spirits were lifted by this outpouring of support. Since then scores of volounteers have come to help with clean up. More than 25 house holds made a meal train and delivered meals to us for over a nonth. A generator was installed. People helped to house the goats and sheep in a safe place. The contents of our three freezers was taken to a walk- in freezer nearby; nothing was spoiled. A neighbor started as GO FUND ME account and more than %60,000 has been raised.
It took more than 2 weeks to get the basics of daily life to work here.
We are moving forward little by little. The farm will never be the same. Hopefully it will be BETTER.
We are starting to look for new owners, people who will build a second chapter for the farm, growing food, providing public education and hands on training about climate change, sustainable agriculture and social justice. Now more than ever these services are needed.
The Farm Before The Tornado
We are an 80-acre organic farm in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. We grow fruit, vegetables, make hay, and raise chickens, turkeys, sheep and goats for eggs, meat, and wool. The on-site Renewable Energy Education Center consists of a 12.5 kw of solar electric, 64 solar thermal tubes, air source heat pumps, a straw bale building, used vegetable oil truck and furnace, LED lighting and other energy savings measures, which provide nearly 100% of our energy needs. The tornado took our once-standing 120’ tower and 10kw wind turbine There was no other farm like us!
The farm was placed under an agriculture easement through the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. This assures that farming will always continue here; the land cannot be subdivided into housing units. We are presently considering who the next farm leaders will be.
Over the years our education program has diversified. Currently we offer Saturday morning programs for adults and children (Farming with Kids and Adults) and special hands-on workshops.
Our farm stay program is no longer available. Volunteers are most welcome, matching your schedule and interests with the work of the farm.
We look forward to hearing from you.
The land of Apple Pond Farm was first farmed in 1865. After 100 years of dairy farming, the land and buildings were deserted, and a period of major deterioration took place. In 1973, Sonja Hedlund and Dick Riseling purchased 80 acres and began restoring the land and the buildings to good health. For 35 years, the main power for the farm was provided by draft horses which raked hay, spread manure, brought logs down from the woods for firewood, cultivated crops, provided a livery service for 5 hotels, gave hay rides for the many farm tours that took place every week and produced 142 draft horse and warm blood foals which were trained and sold into the regional market. In 2003, a tractor and renewable energy systems became new sources of farm energy. We make certain that our energy efficiency and renewable energy systems offset the use of mechanized power and provide close to 100% of our energy. In 2020, with the help of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the land of Apple Pond Farm was put into a conservation easement, ensuring that the land be protected from development, and be used for agricultural purposes in perpetuity.
Throughout the years, more than 300 farming and renewable energy apprentices from 13 countries and all regions of the USA have spent 3 months to a year or longer with us. Many now operate profitable farms, serve as examples in their communities of sustainable economic farming or serve in positions of significant responsibility in the sustainable offices of universities, city government, commercial renewable energy companies and not-for-profit organizations.
Meet The Owners:
Sonja Hedlund and Dick Riseling