If you’re a Hudson Valley resident with an interest in the farm-to-table movement, or a resident of almost anywhere with a passion for artisan cheeses, the name Sprout Creek may be familiar to you. It’s a 200-acre farm in the Town of LaGrange, just southeast of Poughkeepsie, where, since 1990, nuns from the Society of the Sacred Heart – cleverly disguised as civilians in mud boots and overalls – have been raising free-range cows, sheep, goats, turkeys, guinea fowl, chickens and pigs. They make incredibly delicious cheeses from the milk that their cows, sheep and goats supply, redolent of whatever grasses and wildflowers those ruminants happen to be munching at the time. They also provide extraordinary hands-on agricultural education opportunities for campers young and old.
It has just been announced that Sprout Creek Farm is transferring control of its operations to Marist College, while sustaining its status as an independent not-for-profit. In addition to continuing current educational programs and agricultural operations, Marist plans to invest significantly in the facilities and to develop new connections between the Farm and Marist’s academic programs. “Sprout Creek will play a key role in Marist’s experiential learning programs by serving as a living classroom and providing hands-on learning opportunities for students in a variety of academic disciplines,” said Dr. Geoffrey Brackett, Marist’s executive vice president.
“Sprout Creek Farm provides the College with a tremendous opportunity to establish programs for our students and faculty while continuing and enhancing the wonderful educational offerings the Farm has offered this community for more than 25 years,” noted Marist president David Yellen. “Sprout Creek Farm’s central work – educating people to appreciate the rich agricultural heritage of the Hudson Valley and the United States and fostering a sense of responsibility for the future of the environment – aligns perfectly with Marist’s core mission.”
It seems appropriate that this bit of news was unveiled just in time for National Cheese Day, January 20. There’s an interesting synergy, too, in the fact that both institutions started out as projects of Roman Catholic religious orders and have ended up adapting to a more secular modern world, without losing the spirit of idealism that nurtured them.
Sprout Creek Farm is located at 34 Lauer Road in LaGrange. It welcomes visitors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and the onsite market is open Tuesday through Sunday. Its award-winning cheeses are also available to order online. Visit https://sproutcreekfarm.org for more info.