The Good Life: Bring the People to the Farm

The Good Life Farm is located in Interlaken, New York, 20 miles north of Ithaca. Melissa Madden and Garrett Miller purchased 69 acres in 2008, and have created what is now an orchard, cidery, CSA, and grass-fed beef operation. They are known for growing flavorful, ugly apples, asian pears, and ginger. These unique flavors are showcased in the Finger Lakes Cider House, a sister business that is located on the farm. The farm grows salad greens biointensively, and runs a herd of grass-fed cattle. While these products may be “niche” to the mainstream, we view them as high-value, nutrient-dense food with a local market ready and able to match demand with their supply. The food that regenerative agriculture produces comes from healthy, living soil, and the resulting quality is unmatched. Quality commands a price premium, and The Good Life’s products are worth every penny: growing the best food soil can grow is a great business decision, and the process provides an excellent nutrient-ROI to the eater and to the farmer.

 

We’d like to discuss The Good Life Farm in the context of what a farm can and should be like. The Good Life produces a mix of micronutrient-dense crops and macronutrients. For the non-nutritionist, this means that they produce excellent fruits and vegetables, and also meat. Carbon-sequestering tree crops are a mainstay of the farm. Geese, ducks, chickens, and turkeys move in between the rows of trees and asparagus. Beef cattle graze the open pasture. When we eat at a restaurant, we utilize an intermediary that connects us with farms. The next frontier in restauranteering, however, is to bring the people directly to the farm. The Finger Lakes Cider House offers small plates during the week to accompany cider tasting, as well as a full dinner menu on Fridays. If we are to interact with the land in a new system of agriculture, we must frequent the places where our food comes from.

We had the chance to walk around The Good Life Farm, and we’d like to show you some photos from their operation. The farm is unique, clean, and well-managed. The Good Life Farm is a beautiful showcase of what is possible in regenerative agriculture.

 Draft horses, apples, and high tunnels full of greens and ginger

Draft horses, apples, and high tunnels full of greens and ginger

 Salad greens, weed-free in chocolate-cake soil

Salad greens, weed-free in chocolate-cake soil

 Ginger, an otherwise tropical crop, is grown here in western New York

Ginger, an otherwise tropical crop, is grown here in western New York

 Cider apples abound

Cider apples abound

 The trees are planted in a Keyline pattern, which means that they are slightly off-contour, but still effectively eliminate soil erosion and increase the land's water-holding capacity.

The trees are planted in a Keyline pattern, which means that they are slightly off-contour, but still effectively eliminate soil erosion and increase the land's water-holding capacity.

 Grass-fed, grass-finished beef

Grass-fed, grass-finished beef

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 Asparagus in between rows of peach trees; The Finger Lakes Cider House

Asparagus in between rows of peach trees; The Finger Lakes Cider House

 Geese graze the rows of asparagus in the off-season, keeping the weeds down and turning grass into fertilizer.

Geese graze the rows of asparagus in the off-season, keeping the weeds down and turning grass into fertilizer.