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The Places Close to Our Hearts…

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landscapes across the country that are close to the hearts of AFT staff

Mike's Pond in Dekalb, ILIn the Heartland
"The place closest to my heart is "Mike's Pond,” a tiny taste of Illinois prairie made up of a one acre pond surrounded by about 9 acres of prairie and trees (in various stages of restoration) a couple miles outside of DeKalb, Illinois. All around this 10 acre spot is rich, high-quality row-cropland which I lease to my brother to farm. About 16 years ago, and after several years of eyeing the spot, my late husband, Mike and I decided to convert this area of the field into a wildlife and prairie project with the plan we would eventually live out there. We had a dam built and dug out the pond in an area where a major drainage tile flowed, and proceeded to start to plant it to native IL prairie and some trees. I've enjoyed many a night with the peaceful company and light of a camp fire and stars." -Anita Zurbrugg, Assistant Director, Center for Agriculture in the Environment

The Mid Atlantic
"One of my favorite places would have to be the Bingay Dairy Farm across the road from my boyhood home, 20 miles north of Pittsburgh. Classic, bucolic and ever so tempting to wayward boys who aspired to tip the cows. It's now covered—along with all the farms for miles around—with subdivisions and anonymous commercial sprawl…I often think that it was the memory of the place that got me involved with farmland protection." - Edward P. Thompson, Jr., CA State Director & Senior Associate

Pacific NorthwestPuget Sound Fresh Logo
Cherry Valley Dairy and Farm (Duvall, Washington) has always been a place of fond memory for Don Stuart, Pacific Northwest Director for AFT. The Dairy, popular among the local school children for handing out "ice cream punch cards," has a history of supporting the local PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and donating to the school down the road. This small family dairy borders Rasmussen Creek that flows into Cherry Creek and then into the Snoqualmie River, and is working to implement best management practices to help keep the land and water healthy. It also is a partner in the Puget Sound Fresh program that directly connects farmers with a larger regional market—including consumers from across the region who seek fresh produce and like to support local farms. - Don Stuart, Pacific Northwest States Director

New England
When thinking of a place close to my heart, I immediately thought of this hillside in my home town, New London, New Hampshire. It's a hay field on a hill, part of a historic estate, lined by a stone wall and maple trees with a view of Mt. Kearsarge in the distance. It is so beautiful, with great stories from the community.  My old high school lacrosse coach still mows the field every year with his team of draft horses. In a time when everyone is geared towards efficiency and expedience, Mr. Messer mows and rakes that field with his horses, I suspect just for the mere joy of it. It is a sight that people in town look forward to and when he's mowing—the street lined with cars, locals and tourists alike who stop to take photos." -Liz Brock, Hudson Valley Field Representative

Davis Farmers' MarketWest Coast
When I started my undergraduate career at UC Davis it was the Wednesday evening farmers’ markets in Central Park that we turned to after a long day on campus.  I will always smile fondly as I remember sitting with my friends, making a picnic of sliced tomatoes, avocados and fresh herbs as we watched an entire community rally around an evening of fresh and local produce, live music and dancing as the sun set across our home." -Anna Rozzi, Communications Specialist


SoutheastMatzah Rising Farm
Tales of a broken heart, as this Valentine’s Day, I’m moving from my farm of 10 years into town. I’ll miss the dewy mornings picking blueberries before the summer heat sets in, the chirping of turkeys in the field as the tractor comes out to offload more feed, and a kitchen counter full of bowls of overripe tomatoes, setting up for a marathon session of chopping, drying and canning. We’ve managed to hold onto 30 acres of the farm, where I’ll keep dragging logs from the forest, burning sections of the field for the regeneration of native warm season grasses, and giving my dog Cassius plenty of rabbits to chase." -Gerry Cohn, Southeast States Director

American Farmland Trust