Shoreham farm family receives organic honors

SHOREHAM — Each year, Horizon Organic announces the recipients of its Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) Award, which recognizes farmers who advocate for organic agriculture and dairying. At the Farm Aid festival in Pittsburgh recently, Joe and Kathleen Hescock of Elysian Fields in Shoreham received a 2017 HOPE Award honorable mention.
The Hescocks have been shipping to Horizon Organic since 1999, when the 300-cow dairy transitioned to organic farming. They were singled out by Horizon Organics for their support and mentorship of those interested in organic farming, whether they are farmers interested in making the transition to organic, those who are already organic, or those who simply want to learn more about organic farming. They have hosted a handful of farmers for on-the-job training. Many of those trainees use their knowledge and experience to start their own farms.
Horizon also cited the Hescocks’ community involvement —Kathleen serves on the Platt Memorial Library board of trustees and Joe was on the Shoreham’s planning commission for several years and serves as a 4-H leader. Daughter Tirzah volunteers at the Platt and her church. She loves to bake for charity events, including big-ticket items, such as a cake for 50 and more than 30 strawberry rhubarb pies. She is also the herdswoman on the farm and plans to take the farm over sometime in the future.
Joe has been passionate about organic for much of his life, beginning in junior high when he first started learning about organic and became excited about soil health, learning about soil, including making his own compost and growing organic vegetables. Joe believes soil is the building block of organic and the most important asset on a farm to make a farmer productive.
“We work hard to have healthy soil to support our pastures that support our animals which, in turn, supports our family,” Kathleen says. “Organic just makes a lot of sense. Why would you want to use unnatural input on your farm when there is another way?”
   KATHLEEN (SECOND FROM LEFT), Tirzah and Joe Hescock pose with their Horizon Organic Producer Education Award, which they received at the Farm Aid festival in Pittsburgh, Pa., earlier this year.

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