It's the last week of kid's farming programs at Rainbeau Ridge and the ending is bittersweet for Karen Sabath, sister and partner to Lisa Schwartz, owner of the Bedford Hills farm.
"I'm going to miss the kids—it's been so much fun to share with them," she said in an interview with Patch. "I've witnessed many 'a-ha!' moments and it's been a great way to teach children about the incredible finds in nature."
Childrens' programming, adult cooking classes and cheesemaking are all on hiatus in 2013 at Rainbeau Ridge because Schwartz has joined her husband to live and work in Bejing, China. The garden and bee operations will continue on a scaled-back basis.
Sabath said working with her sister on the farm transformed her life, including the way she and her family looks at food and nature; she cited a greater appreciation and taste for the honey she and her family have extracted from bee hives on the farm, as an example.
Schwartz——made the annoucement about closing the farm to the public back in October. And it's just starting to sink in for many local families and devotees of the farm's programs—particularly ones centered around kids (both the goat and human kind).
"I'm crushed," said Whitney Brown, a Bedford resident and mother of two boys including Henry, a kindergartener and participant in Rainbeau Ridge's farm education programs for the past five years.
"I moved here from Chicago and have never seen anything like Rainbeau Ridge there or anywhere else," she said.
"We started when my son was a toddler and the farm has since become a resource and a destination for my family. I've taken cooking classes and my son has expanded his palate as a result of the farm. Lisa and Karen and the entire staff make everyone feel at home. I've learned about making better food choices for my family. I'm going to miss it so much," said Brown.
In the last ten years, Schwartz's farm had become an access point for many to sustainable living—offering children's programs, adult cooking classes, and a farm share program, in addition to special events like its annual sheep shearing festival. Schwartz co-authored the 2009 book, "Over the Rainbeau: Living the Dream of Sustainable Farming," with Sabath and food writer Judith Hausman, which documented her story.
"One goat led to a herd which led to my award-winning farmstead cheese. The farm's mission—"Making Sustainable Living Second Nature"—just grew from there," Schwartz explained in a Patch interview after the book's release.
As for what she and her sister and the farm's staff have accomplished in the last decade, Schwartz said in her letter to Rainbeau Ridge patrons:
We are proud of what we have been able to achieve and are gratified by the reputation we've built, the incredible, like-minded friends we've made, the awards we've earned and the tremendous positive feedback we've gotten from our customers.
Though it may be a bit quieter next year, the farm will continue as a working landscape, said Sabath, who will continue to care for the bee hives—which pollinate vegetation within a two-mile radius of the farm.
"We'll care for the animals, and the garden, grow cover crops that will provide extra nutrients for the soil and continue our compost operation," she said. "Our farm team will be here."
To follow Rainbeau Ridge news, sign up for their email list.
Video: Kids Cooking for Thanksgiving at Rainbeau Ridge
Rainbeau Ridge to Scale Back in 2011
They're Kidding Around at Rainbeau Ridge