April 21, 2015

Moon in the Pond

By Nichole Y Calero

Dominic Palumbo is a passionate man, and a busy one. During the three hours I spent at Moon in the Pond Farm, neither his hands nor his mouth stopped. While sweeping the floor he delivered a lecture on the unsustainable nature of our consumer driven society, at one point holding up two brooms to compare. “This is a work of art.” he said, brandishing a handmade corn broom. He demonstrated the function of the form on his kitchen floor, speaking all the while of the broom’s other virtues of durability and sustainable building materials, as well as its future beyond functionality as either kindling or compost.  He holds up a store bought, plastic handled and bristled broom. “This is the opposite of pretty” he declared “and it’s going to end up in a landfill.”

His passion for sustainability goes beyond his kitchen to the 150 acres that is Moon in the Pond farm. Located on Barnum Rd. in Sheffield, with additional acres on Foley Rd, he farm is run without pesticides or chemical fertilizers; although just a few acres are dedicated to vegetables, all of it is dedicated to food production. Either through grazing or growing hay, the majority of the property supports the backbone of his operation: meat.  Moon in the Pond raises cattle, pigs, goats, chickens, geese, turkeys, and ducks. A visit to the farm brings one up close and personal with the livestock, many of whom roam freely throughout the property;  you can see the calves kicking up their heels as they chase each other, follow piglets as they roam in a pack, or watch the tom turkeys fan out their feathers for the hens. Dominic encourages visitors to the farm. “I want people to know…that they’re welcome here to visit, keeping in mind that we’re a working farm, and see what a farm looks like and how it works.”   He believes in a food culture of awareness and respect, where the perception of value is based on the work that went into the final product instead of low cost and ease of preparation.

The majority of the sales is direct to consumer through a unique CSA system, for which he’s created “bacon bucks”. Acknowledging that most people are used to buying cuts of meat at the store, and not everyone has a large chest freezer, his CSA operates on a “buy as you will” principle.  Members receive bacon bucks when they purchase a share, then use the bucks to get meat as needed. For this, people visit the farm year round to pick up from the farm stand located in the front of the barn.  If you can’t make it to make it down to Moon in the Pond, you can still purchase their meat at the Sheffield, Nutrition Center, or Millerton Farmers’ Markets, (where you can also get some of their veggies or eggs) or find it on the menu of local restaurants such as the Rt. 7 Grill.