The Signs of Sustainability Project is a citizen-led initiative created to show gratitude to our friends and neighbors in the Rondout Valley who demonstrate sustainable practices. Sustainability is defined by this project as stewardship and care of the present and future vitality of our wild, agricultural, and human resources.
Kelder’s Farm–Jackie & Chris Kelder
|Jackie & Chris Kelder. Photo by Ilene Cutler.|
There is no other farm, anywhere, like Kelder’s Farm. Jackie and Chris Kelder chuckle quietly to this statement and seem to agree that their own farm has taken them by surprise. Chris and Jackie are generational farmers. The 300+ acre farm in Accord was mostly dairy from 1836 to 1999. When the profit margins became too tough on dairy, Chris and Jackie decided to grow more produce and fruit. They built a collaborative creative team and turned the farm into a fun-loving educational place for families. At the edible mini-golf, designed and built by Maria Reidelbach (who writes The Yardavore), you can pet the chickens and pop a cherry tomato in your mouth, all the while contemplating the solar pop-corn operation that sits on the nearby hillside. The Kelders still love cows, but they love people more, and their collaborations and devotion to community have brought lots of people down the dirt farm road.
The word vacation is not spoken in the Kelder home—farming doesn’t allow for that. When Chris and Jackie aren’t working the farm they have put their time into coaching youth sports, serving on the School Board and the Board of the RVGA, raising money for the High School Scholarship Fund, and hosting community events. They also recently started a CSA (shares are still available).
Chris and Jackie demonstrate through Kelder’s Farm a unique and collaborative business model that diversity strengthens agricultural systems and the human communities they support. From the roadside Giant Gnome (also designed and created by Maria Reidelbach) to the U-Pick fruits and vegetables, from the edible mini-golf to the practical animal feed store and farm market, from the 100-foot long trampoline to the roadside U-Pick flowers, so much is happening there it is a mini amusement park for farm lovers and children. Kelder’s is a quirky farm, both educational and wholesome. A diverse community of locals and visitors love to visit Kelders and experience agriculture at its most beautiful, sustainable, interactive best.
–Lisa Jones, Signs of Sustainability Coordinator