October 25, 2019
\”Porters Farm Grants Round Two Open for Submission\”
Tucked away on 66 acres in Sullivan County, a City family who moved here less than two years ago has created a new take on sustainability at the former Meckle Family property outside Narrowsburg.
Mom for the family of five, and brainchild of the Porter\’s Farm Grants, Jennifer Porter has a background in Urban & Regional Planning, having worked for half a decade at the Portland (Oregon) Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, focusing on the curbside garbage, recycling and yard waste program. \”It was a great place to learn,\” Porter noted.
From those roots, Jennifer grew in sustainability circles, moving back East and helping rural Pennsylvania communities plan for workforce needs, uniting business and education at the same table, then delving into green building services in the NYC market.
Having three children in three years from 2010-2013 may be her biggest accomplishment to date. \”Nothing can compare to the joy they bring,\” Porter said, while also commenting that raising the kids is the \”hardest job I\’ll ever have!\”
Once the kids were in school, and grooming her project management skills, Porter then consulted with cities across the US develop their own sustainable solid waste management practices. From Baton Rouge, to Grand Rapids, to Bend, Oregon, Porter has been passionate about preparing now for the change communities want in the future, and creating programs and policies to support that.
From these influences, Porter\’s Farm Grants was born. First, with seed money through GPB Capital, Porter started Black Dirt Organics in Summer 2018, piloting the concept of taking waste from the City and processing it for the soil health value in farms and fields where it is needed most.
\”I am driven by the issue of nutrient loss in the soil,\” Porter said. Generations of her family are from Lackawanna County, PA. She always had a big garden at home, and her dad sold produce at the Circle Drive-In Farm Market (Dickson City, PA) in the 1980\’s.
Research shows that some crops have lost up to 50 percent of nutrient value due to chemical fertilizers and farmers moving away from sustainable agriculture to monoculture crops, relying on little in the way of crop rotation, cover crops, and adding organic matter each season.
Unless one is eating solely from the farmer\’s market or back yard garden, it is very hard to get the required nutrients in daily life anymore. For kids, it is especially paramount for brain and body development in years 1-5. Because of this, Porter has found short-term solution of supplementation to be the answer to a healthy family and compliment to an active lifestyle.
Once Black Dirt Organics was running as a test site of her vision, Porter\’s Farm Grants launched in Fall 2018 as the next step in addressing long-term solutions to the issue of nutrient loss in the soil at scale.
\”After moving to Sullivan County, our goal quickly became to impact more than half of the County\’s 997 acres by 2025 with the grant porgrams,\” Porter explained. Grant focus areas include harmonious water, energy, food and waste practices. Moving the needle of sustainable development at home, the entire Porter family walks the talk with on-site grey water catchment, a solar array on the barn roofs, large organic garden for canning and preserving, and composting toilets for the house and guest cabins.
Year one awardees for the Porter\’s Farm Grants are included below impacting 325 acres for a sustainable future. Awards are $50,000 each.
- Carrigan, 10 acres: microwind turbines
- Newton, 120 acres: 50 megawatt solar array
- Preston, 46 acres: Farm in a Box installation
- Ferguson-Conner, 72 acres: grey water catchment system
- Zenith, 34 acres: green roof for house expansion
- Madison, 15 acres: on-site composting for wood waste and food scraps
- Hector, 20 acres: development of eco-tour and camp program
- Meckle, 5 acres: solar array
- Sullivan West Elementary, 3 acres: expansion of classroom gardens program
Applications for Round 2 are due yearly on or before Halloween, and awards are made following the New Year. Applicants from adjacent counties will be considered, but Sullivan County projects are given preference. Previous year awardees can also apply for phase 2 or alternate projects on the same site. For more information, visit: portersgo.wordpress.com
Note: A permanent installation at the Museum at Bethel Woods is planned to open in 2020 to highight the ongoing impact of the grants.