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Retired? Sort of. Two longtime voices for conservation join Land Trust

| 14 Jun 2024 | 11:21

In their retirement, two longtime voices for conservation recently joined the Orange County Land Trust. Organic farmer Keith Stewart of Greenville, NY, hung up his hoe and took a seat on the OCLT board of directors. And former Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton joined the staff as community liaison.

Stewart was co-owner and operator of Keith’s Farm, growing certified organic vegetables, herbs and fruit. For over 30 years, Keith’s Farm was a staple at the Union Square Greenmarket. Today, a portion of the farm is leased to two former employees who now operate their own growing business. Stewart authored two books: It’s a Long Road to a Tomato: Tales of an Organic Farmer who Quit the Big City for the Not So Simple Life and Storey’s Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables & Herbs for Market. His articles have appeared in Dirt, The Valley Table, Reader’s Digest and Audubon Magazine.

In 2007, Keith and his wife, Flavia Bacarella, partnered with OCLT on a conservation easement that protects their 85-acre farm in perpetuity.

“Orange County, New York is special,” said Stewart. “Those of us who live here should pinch ourselves every day to remind us how fortunate we are. There are not many places on this earth that have such a wealth of diversity: farmland, wildland, clean air, clean water, prosperous human communities, and great variety of terrain, soils, forest and wildlife.” He added, “If we wish to hold on to the natural wealth we currently have, there is plenty more to do.”

Former Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton also recently joined the Land Trust after 21 years in town hall. As community liaison, Sweeton will assist local municipalities on farmland and open space protection planning. “I’m excited for this opportunity with OCLT to take all that I’ve learned in Warwick with me on the road and help local communities take charge,” said Sweeton.