Maybe there is a conjunction of some odd stars up in the heavens that’s sending some wacky vibrations our way, because lately I’ve been running into more then just a few old friends—not two-dimensional, transient images of people I never heard of crowding my iPad, but real, live, flesh-and-blood human beings who can have a conversation lasting more than 140 characters. Considering I haven’t seen some of them since, well, high school, “old” in this context takes on a whole new meaning. I won’t do the math for you, but let’s just say I was already on the downhill slide toward retirement when we started this magazine almost 20 years ago, and most of my old friends predate that by some 30 years.
We don’t often speak of longevity anymore, it seems. “New” gets most of the hype, and these days, new happens almost daily. Is your phone more than a month old? You might think about getting a new one. Your watch tells you how many steps you took yesterday, but does it tell you the direction you were walking when you took them? If not, maybe you need a new one.
Not that any of this is necessarily bad, mind you—we celebrate new plenty right here. What would “Good Stuff” be without new people producing new food and products? What kind of future could we look forward to without new farmers—or new marketers like Hillary Lindsay and her Green Onion market to keep us going?
On the other hand, there is something to be said for the old guard—the people and institutions that just keep doing what they’ve always done, that is, maintain. In this issue, for example, we spotlight Prospect Hill Orchards in Milton, now celebrating 200 years of growing fruit in the Hudson Valley. Two hundred years. Same place, same family. Prospect Hill, along with other long-lived farms like Hepworth and Kezialain, have lasted, for the most part, through sustainable practices—an old, old term that currently is among the first lessons every new farmer must learn.
Our interview with TV cooking personality Nancy Fuller in this issue contains some good ol’ down-home philosophy on just these points. No spring chicken herself (she admits), Fuller reiterates that we wouldn’t have anything new without the experience, wisdom and success of what came before—it’s what we build on and learn from and it’s what shows us the direction we must go. Despite advances in technology, chemistry and biology, organic farming now is basically what organic farming once was; what sustainable practices are now, they already were. We couldn’t celebrate moving into the third century of a family farm otherwise.
We salute both the year-old farm market and the 200-year-old farm. After all, they both epitomize this place called the Hudson Valley.