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EAST FISHKILL, NEW YORK
Brothers Verne and Wayne D. Jackson have lived and worked all their lives on the land that is nestled in the corner of the Taconic Parkway and Route 84 in East Fishkill, following in the farming footsteps of their parents and grand parents, who purchased the property in 1892 that is today called Shenandoah Farm.
Selling mostly apples and vegetables, their father, Wright Jackson, went into the dairy business after World War II, getting his degree at Morrisville Agriculture College in Central New York. He was also a milk tester for the DHIA.
“The dairy business, back in the fifties, was awful good times,” says Verne. “It was something we could expand on and we specialized in it. Now it’s almost becoming something of a hobby.”
Verne and Wayne don’t work quite as much as they used to on the farm and have handed down the day to day responsibilities to Verne’s sons, John, Thomas and Daniel, who manage the 130 herd of cattle and their 250 acres of land, growing corn and alfalfa for their cows. Much of the land is also used to pasture the cows during the spring, summer, and fall. The Jacksons are advocates of rotational grazing practices, moving the cows from one field to the next.
When they aren’t working on the farm, all three sons volunteer as Fire Chiefs at the local fire department, as their father and uncle have done since the 1960s. Tom also has a lawn mowing business and Dan works with a local contractor.
“Hard work, good family values, helping each other and our community, that is how we grew up,” says Tom, who is also a pastor at the 2nd Kent Baptist Church in Putnam County.
Today they supplement their dairy business income with a gravel mine, which improves their land by preserving the top soil, staving off hill erosion and making that acreage more productive.
Good environmental stewardship has always been a priority for the Jackson family. Verne is a former President of the Dutchess County Farm Bureau and was also its Secretary Treasurer. Wayne has been the Director of the Cattle Breeders Association and is a Vice-Chairperson of the Dutchess County Farm Service Agency.
“We try to do the best to conserve our property,” says John. “My dad always says, you can’t take and take and take from the land and not give anything back.”