It’s not unusual for yoga teacher, Anne Rogers to break into dance in the middle of a yoga class. It’s also not unusual for any number of her students to follow suit. Anne’s classes are gentle yet challenging and never lacking in an element of joy and camaraderie.
A certified yoga instructor, Anne and her husband, Dave, a retired chemical engineer, decided to embark on an entirely new adventure in what has become their beloved Hudson Valley home: Dancing Meadow Farm. The farm, aptly named, is a labor of love. After building most of their home with the help of their son, Matt, a woodworker and builder in his own right, the couple built a barn in 2008 and fenced in the property the next year.
Anne says, “What we wanted was a very large garden. We love eating local and have always been environmentally conscious.” That large garden eventually grew into Dancing Meadow Farm, grown with organic seeds from the High Mowing Seed Company in Vermont. Though not certified, Dancing Meadow is an organic farm. No sprays are used and pests and fungus are handled without chemicals of any kind. “It’s a learning process,” Dave, who has taken many classes to improve the yield and quality of the vegetables the couple grows, explains. “Because vegetables pull minerals and nutrients from the soil, we put back composted materials and 14 minerals each time we plant. The taste and nutritional values are greatly increased.”
Growing produce organically is difficult and risky however. Anne and Dave lose about two crops per year to bugs or fungus. Nevertheless, they love farming and have high praise for local farmers who have provided invaluable help. “The farmers in this area are fantastic. We were given so much help. They were amazing,” Anne adds. And that help extended to sharing and trading farm implements as well as expertise.
Anne, a former physical education teacher, moved with Dave and two sons to the Hudson Valley in 2007. In their hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Anne was director of a community exchange program founded to increase social networking. People traded services they needed for those they could provide. Anne began practicing yoga about 40 years ago and later, after extensive training, became certified in Thai yoga massage. “Thai yoga massage is a very ancient system used in homes as well as hospitals in Thailand, “ Anne explains. “It is almost a way of life for the Thai people to use this bodywork for prevention of disease as well as healing. It uses compression massage, acupressure and very gentle yoga stretching to move energy and remove blockages that could cause us to not feel well.” Having experienced one of Anne’s massages first hand, I can attest to the feeling of well-being and total relaxation that follows. In her yoga classes as well as in her massage therapy sessions there is an element of feeling “cared for” that remains long after the session is over.
Anne continues teaching yoga at the Gardiner Library and practicing Thai Yoga Massage, and the yoga, the massage and the farming all seem to have a central theme. They come out of what Anne describes as the “healing arts.” As she explains, the first principle built into Thai Yoga Massage is loving kindness (Metta). “You find it in yourself and then you share it with others.” Anne has always shared Metta through her yoga and massage, and now she and Dave have found a way to share it through Dancing Meadow Farm as well.
Since farmers’ markets are difficult to staff and it is difficult to predict demand, Anne and Dave came up with a different marketing plan. Dave travels to four or five venues to sell the farm’s produce. Among them is White Barn Farm on Albany Post Road and the Gardiner Library, following Anne’s yoga classes, as well as a few restaurants. They use about 50% of what they grow for their own consumption, with Anne doing the processing and freezing. Dave takes 10% of what he and Anne grow to the soup kitchen in Newburgh where they are welcomed with open arms. Donated items include heads of lettuce, cucumbers, squash, collards and other greens.
Future plans include extending the growing season from April to early January and concentrating on growing asparagus as one of the main crops. In the meantime, you can reach Anne and Dave at 255-0087. Or stop in at the Gardiner Library on Tuesday or Thursday morning at 11 for yoga and food from the farm.