Sustainable Living -Kiernan Farms

by Shawn Dell Joyce

     Gardiner has a sweet jewel of a farm nestled right at the base of the Shawangunk Ridge; Kiernan Farm. This 140 acre farm has some of the most spectacular and unique views of the ridge, yet is flanked on either side by encroaching housing developments. Right now, the farm is in danger of being lost to development, if the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) are not secured.

     What this means is that the town purchases the PDR rights, to keep the farm as a working farm. You would be hard pressed to find two harder working farmers than Thelma and Marty Kiernan. Marty purchased the farm in 1982 to raise horses. His three sons and daughter have been raised on the farm, and one will inherit Marty’s position as farmer if he ever gives it up.

     Thelma runs Blueberry Inn Bed and Breakfast on the farm, in their lovely 1800’s farmhouse. “It’s a great site for a B&B,” says the vivacious Thelma. The Kiernan’s guest enjoy a spectacular view of the  ridge, and the gentle lowing of beef cattle in the fields. “Our guests enjoy watching the cows graze, agri-tourism,” she says.

     Visitors also get an education in the difference between pastured beef, and commercially-raised beef. When you see the cows grazing at the base of the ‘Gunks, you get the feeling that is the way God and nature intended cows to live. Baby calves get the opportunity to nurse from their mothers. The cows are happy, they look peaceful and content, and make happy cow noises.

     Commercially-raised beef cattle are packed together and fed an unnatural diet of corn, soy and wheat primarily with many nasty chemicals and additives packed in. They are poorly treated, live lives of misery, and treated in a way that would offend even the hardiest carnivore. The result of factory farming is meat that is marbled with fat, and loaded with cholesterol. Pastured beef is much lower in fat and cholesterol, and has more of the healthy Omegas that we need in our diet.

     The Kiernans want to see their farm preserved, and are willing to put in the work to make that happen. If we community members purchased grass-fed, organic beef from these folks, we will help keep one family farm solvent, and preserve priceless views. Marty says; “you either have to use tax money to buy development rights, or the consumers have to make the decision to buy the products that grow on that open space. Otherwise, that space will be gone. Simple as that.”

     You can purchase pastured, organic beef directly from Kiernan Farm by calling (845) 255-5995 or visit their website

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning syndicated columnist and director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery.

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