On August 1st, Mike Murray returned to New Pond Farm, taking the position of Farm Manager. You may remember Mike from programs and visits to the barn when he served as the Assistant Farm Manager from 2003-2005. We are delighted with Mike’s return. He has a lifetime of hands-on experience and we take great comfort knowing that our cows and calves, flocks of sheep and chickens will be in such skilled hands.
Mike grew up on a dairy farm, and then owned/managed a large farm in the Finger Lakes region of NY for eighteen years, milking 300 cows and cropping 950 acres of land. He and his family then moved to Long Island, where for six years he was the Farm Manager for Suffolk County Farm and Education Center, which included six dairy cows, ninety head of beef cattle, two-hundred acres of cropland, and a busy hog operation. In 2005, Mike took on the challenge of managing a 400 acre farm with 100 cows that was connected with a New York State corrections facility—and because Mike likes to keep busy, he spent his “off hours” as the property manager for a large estate.
Mike kept an interested eye on New Pond ever since his departure. Within days of the announcement to our members that we would be looking for a new Farm Manager, Mike was on the phone asking to be considered for the position. We met with him several times and discussed the evolution of the organization. He was enthusiastic about the environmental mission of the education center and understanding of the role the farm component plays in the programs.
Mike’s first month on the farm has been filled with reclamation projects. For starters, he and Travis have uncovered and repaired malfunctioning septic lines, dealt with fallen trees, spruced up outdoor teaching areas, organized the mows of the main barn, cleaned out the courtyard, removed a decade’s worth of accumulation from our lower barn so this winter, after many years, our haying equipment and tractors will finally go back undercover. A second cutting of hay brought in an additional 600 bales, bringing our total to 1,200. By this time next year, Mike’s plan is to return to the practice of harvesting all of our hay locally, making us more sustainable, eliminating the necessity of buying costly out-of-state hay.
Mike will be an important part of the educational programs, he has done a great deal of work with 4-H students and classes at other centers-we are still using some of the great program ideas that he shared with us years ago. We are sure that children and adults alike will enjoy working with Mike and learn a great deal from his farm programs. Mike’s wife, Ann Murray, is a talented environmental educator and has worked at several centers over the years. She has most recently served as the Program Director at Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park. The Board and staff feel fortunate to be welcoming them back to the farm.