Andy Riegel has run Riegel Family Farms in Fayette for seven years.
New York Chiropractic College President Michael Mestan is a bike rider who often rides by Riegel’s farm.
Last year, Mestan hopped off his bike and started walking into the field where Riegel was working. With a proposition it turns out.
“I thought ‘who the heck was this guy,’” Riegel recalled.
Fast forward to May, and that encounter has yielded a new partnership and a new location for Riegel’s community supported agriculture (CSA) program.
The Veggie Table CSA will be housed out of the former Executive Links Golf Course clubhouse on the south end of NYCC’s grounds, at 2442 Route 89. The building will be used for storage, sorting, and as a market selling selected goods such as eggs and honey from local producers.
And that’s where Riegel’s CSA customers will now pick up their shares. One 12-week share (six items in a half bushel box) is $250; NYCC faculty and staff however will pay $200. The season starts later this month.
Riegel, along with his wife, Candace, and partner Nick Boyd, grow vegetables on about 15 tillable acres at his farm near Canoga. But he is also farming about 1-2 acres on the former driving range at NYCC. He’s trucked in about 35 yards of compost to the site and has already planted kale and onions. In the future he’ll add peppers, pumpkins and flowers. Riegel said he envisions the pumpkin and flower yields to be free U-pick patches.
Riegel follows an organic philosophy, and is committed to using regenerative no-till farming methods and other practices to enhance soil biodiversity.
“It’s pretty small and intensive right now,” he said of the NYCC plantings.
NYCC students and staff have expressed interest in helping and Riegel said that may come to fruition once the site is more established. There is even discussion of such assistance counting toward the required eight hours of community service students must perform each semester.
For NYCC, having a CSA on site fits its mission of health and provides students and staff easy access to fresh vegetables.
“We’ve always known that whole-food nutrition is a critical part of the overall wellness picture, and we could not be more pleased with the addition of the Veggie Table CSA to our NYCC neighborhood,” said Mestan in a press release.
“The ability to help provide our community access to healthy, fresh, local food — a major tool in the quest for health — is something about which the College is truly excited, and is very much in line with the vision of excellence set forth in our ongoing three-year strategic plan.”
For Riegel, he said yes to Mestan’s proposal “because I just kind of thought the idea was cool.”
He is excited to offer CSA pickup in a nice building closer to Seneca Falls and more convenient for his customers (“I’m a little out of the way where I am,” he said), plus he can demonstrate and share his love of farming with others. His wife, Candace, who also works for Seneca County Cornell Cooperative Extension as a nutrition educator in its Farm to School program, plans to bring a group of Seneca Falls fifth-graders to the plot this spring.
“It’s a cool way to show what farming is about … it gets kind of lonely out here by myself,” he said.
If interested in learning more, visit www.riegelmarketfarms.com or stop by the former NYCC clubhouse from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 18. Cornell Cooperative Extension will be holding cooking demonstrations and Riegel and other area producers (including Rosenkrans Farms, Ithaca Milk, Lake Drum Brewing and other farmers) will be providing samples of their products.