Mountainkeeper’s Agriculture Program Advisor Eugene Thalmann wears many hats: local organic farmer, environmental advocate, manager of our popular Liberty Farmers’ Market, and brand-new President of the Sullivan County Farmers’ Market Association.
We met with Eugene this week to talk about his work.
How did you first get involved with Mountainkeeper?
I studied nutrition in college, and in 2012 I had this romanticized view of farming as a self-sustaining lifestyle. My family has a long history in Liberty – my grandfather had lived here since 1964 – so I basically commandeered my family’s 2nd home and converted it into a farm. When you’re a farmer you spend a lot of time at farmers’ markets, and the Liberty Farmers’ Market was where I first learned about Mountainkeeper, and the rest is history.
What’s Mountainkeeper’s vision for the future of agriculture in our region?
I was just elected President of the Sullivan County Farmers Market Association, and one of my goals in that position is to bring more people to Sullivan County and encourage folks that live here to get involved with community- based agriculture. I see the Liberty Farmers’ Market in particular as a place where new farmers can go to learn and make the mistakes we all go through when we’re just starting out. As far as my long term vision for farming in our region–and really everywhere–is to reach a point where agriculture is a collective, decentralized process that gives communities the power to feed themselves. I think that’s really important.
Why are farmers’ markets so important to Mountainkeeper’s mission?
We know the environmental damages associated with large scale, industrial farming practices– CAFOs, monoculture farming–and local, small scale agriculture is really the future for fostering a healthy, thriving society without compromising our climate and ecology. When you set up farmers’ markets, you’re giving people access to a unique variety of nutrient packed foods, and the impact of that is really felt the most in low income, underserved communities that otherwise wouldn’t have access to fresh, healthy foods.