Crossroads Farm, in Malverne, will host its annual opening day this Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m., kicking off its Barnyard Event Series. From face painting to live music, the celebration will offer activities and entertainment for all ages. The farm’s mission is to restore soil, grow healthy plants and provide education while building a community of volunteers who work the property together.
“The people who come here are helping us with our mission through their skills,” said Eva Schwartz, a member of the farm’s advisory committee. “We’re coming out of the gate more prepared than in recent years.”
Schwartz said that the farm’s new head grower, Shannon Collopy, would introduce biodynamic farming, a holistic approach to agriculture, this season. Schwartz also said that the farm staff hoped to build on its seed-saving program, which started last year, and that it would also promote greater biodiversity. “Biodynamic agriculture adds an even more holistic approach to organic growing,” Schwartz said. “The seed saving is a big part in understanding part of the mission."
Crossroads, which is operated by Nassau Land Trust — a nonprofit that preserves land throughout Nassau County — has undergone several renovations in recent years. The most recent upgrades include a new kitchenette, a restroom house and three refrigerator units to preserve plants. Carl Prizzi, a board member who oversees the facility’s capital plans, said that Crossroads got local contractors to donate their services for the improvements. Bringing in volunteers throughout the year, Prizzi said, is an ongoing effort. The farm is currently working with the county to secure capital funds for additional improvements, such as fixing the barn’s roof.
“It’s a special connection that we have at the farm in bringing the community together . . . to help preserve the farm and make it a sustainable option,” Prizzi said. “Whether they support our farm by attending the events or shopping at the store, that all contributes.”
The farm has also developed an advancement committee, in which board members search for grants, donors and sponsors to support the facility. “There’s a core of us that understand that’s really needed,” Schwartz said.
She added that Crossroads’ volunteer program is one of the biggest contributors to farming efforts. One of the farm’s goals is to manage weed control. This, Schwartz explained, creates more room for plants to grow and makes it easier to feed the soil with green manure and compost.
“That’s what makes organic food so rich and dense, is that we’re allowing it to get the real nature in it and not disabling any part of the plant,” Schwartz said. “You want to keep a constant flow of good health and good energy so that the plants will enjoy a full circle of life. It’s a time-consuming thing to pick the weeds, but it’s also meditational.”
The farm is also starting a seed library this year, in which people can purchase seeds, grow and harvest the plants at home, and then return seeds to the farm. This popular practice, Schwartz said, is another way that the farm can bring the community together.
“Seed swapping and seed libraries help tell stories,” she said. “It helps people understand each other. It also makes our farm more self-sustainable.”
Saturday’s celebration, which will also recognize Earth Day, will give residents a chance to learn more about the farm’s educational programs. Prizzi said that students from Malverne and Valley Stream visit the facility every week to take part in its environmental programs, which include Sow to Grow — a workshop that teaches children how to block soil and plant seeds.
Board member Brian Lewis sponsored Maurice W. Downing School’s annual Downing Night Out to raise funds for a state-of-the-art outdoor garden classroom at the school. “I’m a big fan of agriculture,” Lewis said, “and supporting the kids and starting education on the farm at a young age.”
With several events planned for the year, Prizzi said he hoped the community would take part in the family-friendly activities. “All the events are great events to bring the community out, spend time with your neighbors and friends,” he said. “We greatly appreciate the support of the community and the small staff that keeps this going every year.”
“All of the efforts that all these people have put together over the years, everyone’s had their heart in this,” Schwartz said.