Farm Viability has a ten-person board of directors. Seven are nominated by ag organizations and three are at-large members. All are limited to two consecutive three year terms. Tim Dressel, with Dressel Farms in the Hudson Valley joined the board this August as an at-large member.
Q: Can you tell us about your farm?
I am a 4th generation apple grower at Dressel Farms in New Paltz, NY in the Hudson Valley. My family has owned the farm since the 1950’s. We grow primarily apples, along with small plantings of peaches, strawberries, blueberries, pears, plums, nectarines, wine grapes, pumpkins, and squash. Our primary income comes from wholesale of our apples through our distributor to grocery stores. We store and pack all our own fruit. In addition to our wholesale business, we also run a year-round retail store, press our own cider, and open for U-Pick strawberries in June and apples in September and October. We also recently began making our own hard ice cream.
Q: What’s your role in the business?
As a family member, it’s hard to pin down a specific job title on the farm, since we all do a little bit of everything. I primarily focus on post-harvest management, i.e. storage, packing, and shipping. Additionally, I help manage our IPM program, handle all of our social media accounts, and help my wife run our retail operation. Plus, the wine grapes are part of my own endeavor, so I oversee all operations pertaining to our vineyards.
Q: We’ve heard that you’re a great cider maker, how does that fit in?
In 2011, I started my own hard cider company, Kettleborough Cider House, where I am the chief cider maker (in addition to the orchardist, marketing manager, etc.). We run a small tasting room/taproom on the farm from May to Thanksgiving, as well as a small, local distribution. We currently have 6 year-round products and are produce about 1,500 cases a year. We are proud to be a founding member of the New York Cider Association.
Q: Clearly you’re a busy man. Why were you interested in volunteering for the Farm Viability Board?
I graduated from Cornell University in 2007 with a focus on both horticulture and applied economics and management. While at Cornell, I worked as a research assistant to Ian Merwin in both his orchard and vineyard trials and got a small taste of how important proper funding is to the work being done in the agriculture industry. Additionally, our farm works very closelywith the Hudson Valley Research Laboratory in Highland. They’ve been hugely impactful to the success of agriculture in the Hudson Valley specifically, but their work is valued far beyond our region. The opportunity to sit on the Farm Viability Board, to see how grant funding is allocated, and to have an influence on that process is both an honor and a great learning experience for me. I’m also very interested in seeing how other sectors of New York agriculture operate and meet other industry members from across the state that I otherwise would never have the chance to know.
Q: How else do you support the agricultural community?
I am currently serving my second year as the President of the Board of Directors for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County. Dressel Farms is an active member of NYS Farm Bureau. In the past we have teamed up with researchers from Cornell like Terrance Robinson and Susan Brown to conduct test plots on our farm. We also work with Extension and Eastern NY Hort as well as the Hudson Valley Lab to continue to advance their programs.