Micro-grants in Action

By Martha DePoy – Adirondack Council Clarence Petty Sustainable Farms Intern
Wednesday, January 24, 2024 

Essex Farm Institute's micro-grant program has funded 133 environmentally sustainable projects since 2016. The program, which is part of the Adirondack Council, supports farms and value-added producers that strive to protect the health of the natural environment while promoting the economic viability of communities within the Adirondack Park. This past fall, as the Clarence Petty Sustainable Farms Intern, I worked alongside Dillon Klepetar (Adirondack Farm Advocate) to measure and evaluate the impact of the micro-grant program. To collect data and insight for our report, we went straight to the source: our recipients!

Crown Point Farm and Dairy

Michelle and Mike Kuba received a micro-grant in 2022 to conserve water by installing a recovery tank connecting to their dairy processing system. They told us that the water used to cool milk is typically wasted even though it is entirely potable and can easily be used for other farm purposes. It was so exciting to see this innovative idea brought to life and even more exciting to know that the Kuba's interest in water conservation is extensive. They have plenty of ideas for future projects that stand to conserve even more water. Perhaps the most intriguing element of our visit to Crown Point Farm and Dairy was learning about the farm's rich history. We browsed through old photographs of the family that owned the farm before the Kuba's and toured the farm's original barn, which remains functional. 

 Crown Point Farm and Dairy

Creative Kitchen Garden

Mary Godnick has added native plants to about a third of the beds in her garden. These plants will attract native pollinators and help Mary educate the public about the many benefits of native plants. I highly recommend visiting Creative Kitchen Garden for "You-Pick" evenings, returning in summer 2024!

Meadow & Mountain Farm

We met with Kathryn and Peter Zelinski at Meadow & Mountain Farm in Moriah, where they grow and sell Christmas trees. The family is most impressively dedicated to growing their trees using organic fertilizer and natural practices promoting environmental stewardship. It was so interesting to see the trees growing naturally alongside protective grasses, adding nutrients to the soil.

Mountain Meadow Farm

River Bottom Farm

Ben Weinschenk was awarded a micro-grant in 2023 and has already completed his project. He installed a solar-powered water pump to transport water from the river behind his farm to his greenhouse, filled to the brim with delicious tomatoes, basil, and greens. I sampled a ripe tomatillo and can personally attest to the quality of produce from River Bottom Farm!

Tangleroot Farm: When we arrived at Tangleroot Farm we had some trouble finding Adam, who was hard at work repairing one of his many greenhouses. He climbed down from atop one greenhouse to discuss another greenhouse, which the micro-grant program helped fund about seven years ago. We learned about Adam's motivation to expand food security and provide fresh food to as many people within his community as possible.

Tangleroot  Farms

Norman Ridge Farmstead

The first thing I noticed at Norman Ridge Farmstead was the breathtaking scenery. These mountainous views are part of the farm's distinctive charm and are even depicted in its logo. Owners Chris and Holli are dedicated to preserving this view and producing grass-fed beef for the surrounding community. The micro-grant program has helped them to expand their rotational grazing system and renovate their farmstand. Chris showed us around the farm and told us about its history as a former potato producer. The property has come a long way since then, and Chris shared a plethora of plans with us that intend to further land stewardship practices in the future.

Norman Ridge Farmstead

Mark Twain Maple Works

Jack and Phyllis Drury own Mark Twain Mapleworks, a maple syrup farm nestled by the shore of Lower Saranac Lake. The location is significant because it's where Mark Twain spent the summer of 1901, a history Jack excitedly shared with us upon our arrival. He even showed us a photograph of Mark Twain on the front porch of the camp, sitting in a chair that still exists today! We learned about the new maple pan Jack purchased with his most recent micro-grant award. The pan will save Jack time and energy, allowing him to continue to produce delicious maple syrup. I was inspired by Jack's enthusiasm and abundance of wonderful ideas to help advance Adirondack maple products.

North Country Creamery

I thoroughly enjoyed my drive to North Country Creamery, past a string of small farms and beautiful Adirondack views. When I arrived, Ashlee greeted me with kindness and a distinct passion for what she does. She graciously showed me around the farm and discussed the micro-grant projects she has completed over the years. Like many other micro-grant recipients, North Country Creamery is highly motivated to eliminate its carbon footprint. Their most recent project to install a 74kW solar array represents a significant step toward this goal by offsetting 100% of the farm's electrical needs. Ashlee is already preparing for the next step, which will be to convert the farm's propane-dependent equipment.

North Country Creamery


The Adirondack agricultural community is so full of highly motivated individuals, stunning landscapes, important food producers, historically significant places, and inspiring stories. Buying local is the best way to support and protect these people and places that make the Adirondacks so special. You can find local products at community farmers markets, farm stands, and by visiting the websites of local farmers. Let's all set a goal to support local agriculture in 2024!

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