In the six years since Shelterbelt’s inception, Erica and husband Craig Modisher have been working hard to establish the farm, build a home, and raise their children, all while maintaining off-farm jobs with the Cornell Small Farms Program and Ironwood Builders, respectively. However, Erica has still found time to take several Groundswell courses over the past few years. Building off of an exciting background of working and volunteering on farms around the world since college, Erica says that Groundswell programs and the generosity of local farming mentors has been essential to the success of Shelterbelt Farm.
Erica took the Holistic Organic Orchard Management course last year… a very timely endeavor, given that they are currently in the process of planting an orchard at Shelterbelt! With the help of the class, they have planned and started to install a diverse, integrated orchard system, laid out in long contoured rows, that promises to produce an abundance of food. Similarly, Erica is currently taking part in Groundswell’s year-round High Tunnels course which has helped to advise many decisions for Shelterbelt’s new and future hoop houses, from materials sourcing to orientation and management. The farm plans to use these sun-warmed structures to extend food production through the entire year.
When asked what advice she had for new and beginning farmers, Erica asserted that “that reading and researching about agriculture is great, but no substitute for the wisdom of the local community of farmers and homesteaders.”
Ben Roosa is a 2015 Volunteer Program Assistant with Groundswell and a great writer, don’t you think? Thank you Ben!