Chester Agricultural Center is located on 194 acres of rare “black dirt.” This soil type is a product of an ancient riverbed and has been farmed since the early 1800’s in Chester. The challenges of farming this land are unique because the richly organic and fine soils lie low and flat, and require a series of drainage and irrigation ditches to support the farming activities. Working with the farmers, NEFA is in the process of transitioning this land to organic farming practices and is using portions of the acreage for test trials that will help the farmers to maintain their fields without the use of herbicides and/or pesticides that are harmful to a range of beneficial native organisms.
(At NEFA’s three New York agricultural centers in Copake, Chester, and Kingston, New York, multidisciplinary approach and mixed methods are being utilized to analyze the social and ecological impacts and benefits that are generated when agriculture, people’s livelihoods, and nature co-exist. The diversified farming and food-processing operations at NEFA’s three distinct sites each comprise three or more farm households with independent but complementary operations. The Centers are different ecologically; in various stages of conversion from conventional to organic agricultural practices; and at different phases of adaptation to mutual association and investor ownership. Read more about NEFA’s overall agroecology efforts.)