The Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester County is an idyllic place. The grand fieldstone buildings overlook miles of green hills and woods. Dozens of heirloom crops grow in the fields. Even the poultry slaughterhouse, a shingled, lemon yellow building, is pretty.
It’s a model of sustainability. And as such, people expect it to be pretty low tech. But the truth is that Stone Barns and many other small farms use all sorts of technology to promote sustainable practices: portable energizers power lightweight electric fences; the roof on the greenhouse is retractable; and sensors ensure that plants get only the water that is needed. Most visitors are surprised. A handful probably leave disappointed.
My question is why?
In my latest column for the Stone Barns Center, I look at how and where technology can be used to promote environmental and financial sustainability. As Danielle Gould, the founder of Food + Tech Connect told me: “Technology also has the potential to level the playing field for small and mid-sized farms, by making it easier for them to manage operations, better utilize resources and sell their products.”