DEPEYSTER – For the first time, a North Country farmer has been named the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York Organic Farmer of the Year.
Brian Bennett of Bittersweet Farm in Depeyster in southwest St. Lawrence County farms organically, producing a diversity of vegetable crops and livestock.
He also works as a mentor to new farmers and teaches hands-on sustainability to area students and volunteers.
He has worked as the workshop coordinator for the Local Living Festival and as the vegetable specialist for North Country Grown Cooperative.
Bennett and his wife Ann were instrumental in establishing the Ogdensburg Greenmarket, and both have served on the board of directors for the Canton Farmers’ Market.
Born in Warwick, Rhode Island in 1958, Bennett became interested in plants and gardens during his middle school years. His mother’s family had long standing farming roots in Indiana, where he spent some of his high school summers hoeing “miles and miles of corn,” he said.
He also began planting a family garden, and in college studied plant science. But he said he was not happy with the promotion of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. He continued to study organic methods of production and in 1985 purchased his first farm with his wife Ann. They farmed part-time using all organic methods until their move in 1999 to the St Lawrence River Valley.
They now farms full-time and advocate small scale family farms and local food production.
Bittersweet Farm is certified organic with NOFA NY LLC.
Bennett will be one of the keynote speakers at the Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs Jan. 24-26.
For information on attending go to www.nofany.org.