There’s a story behind everything …

There’s a story behind everything … not every story is a good one. Some are, some aren’t. I will let you, the reader, be the judge of this one.

Meet my Swiss Army Knife:


After Eve and I got married in 1990 we lived for about 3 years in her hometown of Bristol/Kenosha, Wisconsin. We had a good friend there, named Kevin* (names have been changed to protect the innocent). Kevin was married to Lucy, a very sweet woman. Kevin was a bit younger than Eve and I. A really kind and genuine guy, though at times a bit of a know-it-all (though at times, aren’t we all?).

One day Kevin happened to be hanging out in our house and he happened to come across my Swiss Army Knife. He pointed to it and began to laugh out loud, quite heartily I might add. He then picked it up, held it as if it was a turd and proclaimed “this isn’t a ‘GENUINE’ Swiss Army Knife like mine.” He then placed mine down and whipped his out of his pocket. His Swiss Army Knife, which he held quite proudly, dwarfed mine in size. He then proceeded to explain, in incredible detail, why his Swiss Army Knife was the real deal and mine was some sort of imitation knockoff. He first pointed out how the red cross symbol on mine wasn’t accurate, versus his. Then he went through the numerous tools and devices on his that mine lacked. In fact, I think his could have been issued by MI6 since it had so many different tools and implements. The color of mine was wrong, as was the shape. And on and on he went …. literally for about 5 minutes or so.

After he finished his thorough dissertation on how my Swiss Army Knife was a cheap imitation fake and his was the real deal I paused for a moment and then asked him one simple question.

Me: “Kevin, where did you buy your ‘GENUINE’ Swiss Army Knife?”

Kevin: “Walmart.”

Me: “I bought mine in Switzerland.”

Kevin, to his credit, laughed.

End of story.


Progressive Farmer Magazine article about my ditch situation appears in the October 2016 issue!

Todd Neeley’s fantastic article about my ditch situation has now appeared in print, in the October 2016 issue of Progressive Farmer Magazine. There are also a number of very cool pics as well. Here is the link:{“page”:100,”issue_id”:337834}

In the article there are some comments made by Orange County Legislator Paul Ruszkiewicz and Town of Warwick Supervisor Mike Sweeton I’d like to address. I’d respond to the NYSDEC but they refused to provide the reporter with any comments on the article or issue. Very sad, but not unexpected. It is NYS you know.

My responses to what Ruszkiewicz and Sweeton said:

The “dispute between two farmers line” is simply untrue and a complete copout. What’s at issue here for him is how the NYSDEC is not enforcing the black letter NYS Environmental Conservation Law on basic drainage ditch protections in a drainage district and he is DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT IT! He was part of an email I sent out in late January or early February where I spelled out very clearly that the NYSDEC is no longer enforcing that part of the law. He said and did nothing. Yes, he has no regulatory authority, no one said or ever implied that he did. But he could have made a huge stink about it with NYSDEC and other agencies.

To emphasize, no one claimed the Drainage Association he chairs has any sort of “regulatory authority.” But he has “bully pulpit” authority which he can and should use. This is not a simple “grower versus grower” dispute. One grower filled in a main drainage ditch in clear violation of the very specific state law designed to protect these ditches and formed the very association he currently chairs. The other grower wants to maintain the drainage and more importantly protect the principle of drainage. These are not equal positions. If Ruszkiewicz doesn’t stand for the protection of drainage, what the heck is he there for? The fact he did absolutely nothing to stand for the drainage protections is quite frankly, disturbing and appalling.

Sweeton’s line about the drainage changing over the years is straight from my neighbor’s mouth. And it is categorically false. The ditch has been where it is for over 100 years. It has not moved or changed, apart from when the forerunner of the NYSDEC worked on and expanded and codified it back in the project done in the 1930’s. What he didn’t say is that Rogowski has not been maintaining his portion of Ditch #32/Jack’s Ditch that borders his land. If he did the water upstream heavily comes my way. One farmer upstream did call the NYSDEC repeatedly to complain about this and what was done to my ditch but Tim Eidle, the attorney at the NYSDEC who I spoke with repeatedly, would neither take or return his call. That farmer left multiple messages on Eidle’s vm asking when his land floods because of this who should he sue?

Other neighbors aren’t weighing in because they are afraid of Rogowski and Osczepinski, period.

Years ago Rogowski’s father and uncle tried to sell the water from the aquifer under much of the black dirt to the Town of Goshen. It directly affected only a couple of growers but the PRINCIPLE affected everyone (the aquifer under much of the black dirt was threatened) and the local Vegetable Grower Organization at the time (of which then I was a Board Member, Ruszkiewicz wasn’t, and Ruszkiewicz is now President of) hired a lawyer to oppose the selling of the water and the Rogowski’s actions. It wasn’t merely “farmer vs farmer” then and it isn’t now.

Sweeton should not hurt himself patting himself on the back. The Town of Warwick held a private meeting with Rogowski, where we the land owners were not included, after Rogowski illegally tried to fill in the ditch with no permits. The Town then allowed Rogowski to ignore his submitted and approved (in 3 days) engineering plans and the Flood Plain Permit to build this unnecessary road in the dead center (versus side of ditch as the permit allowed) of the ditch. The Town Engineer came out and allowed it. The Wall is built unsoundly and every other contractor and engineer that has examined this has said it is not a matter of if but when it will collapse. The Town allowed this construction to take place although the land owner did not approve of it. This was not clearing some sticks or debris for a pre existing road. This is construction of a road that never existed in a main drainage ditch that cost nearly $100,000 to build.

And the easement wasn’t granted in 1930. It goes back farther than that. The actual easement as a road or path has never existed and there is no evidence that it ever has. In my research of it, it appears it goes back to the previous 2 land owners in the late 19th century, pre dating my great grandfather. It seems it just was never removed from the older deeds.

He had a right of egress/ingress where the right of way was (which was mostly in the ditch), not to build a massive wall and fill in my ditch, on my property, against my wishes. We dispute that.

Kudos to Senator Gillibrand’s office and Assemblyman Skoufis and his staff in particular, along with State Senator Bonacic’s office who worked on this. Especially Gillibrand’s office who did all they could and then some.

And thank you to FEMA for now taking an interest in this and investigating it. They are taking it very seriously and I am cautiously optimistic that they will be the much needed “adult in the room” to see to it that the Flood Plain Permit and relevant rules, regulations and vital protections are enforced.

Shame on all of the various regulatory and oversight agencies, especially ACOE, EPA and the NYSDEC. The EPA and ACOE is pure cowardice but the NYSDEC’s actions are inexplicable. I am still deeply concerned about some of the changes in the CWA and the revised rule. But that being said, I don’t approve of no regulations or chaos. We have to have sensible rules and protections, and those charged with enforcing them need to do their jobs.

DTN/Progressive Farmer does a national story about my ditch saga!

DTN/Progressive Farmer staff reporter Todd Neeley has recently posted a fantastic story about our ditch saga (see: The story, entitled “Drainage Plight Farmer in Regulatory No-Man’s Land” was the top read story on their website for a number of days. Here is the link:

It was recently featured in the May 23, 2016 NYS edition of Morning AgClips as well as the May 23, 2016 edition of POLITICO Morning Agriculture: A daily briefing on agriculture and food policy (see:

I will keep you posted on any new developments to this story! It is not over, not by a long shot!

My cousin Natalie Vero’s video project about our farm and my life!

My very awesome cousin Natalie Vero, who will be graduating this May from Penn State University (of the Big 10 of course) has just posted her video project about our farm and my life. It is extremely cool!

Check – it – out!

The 2016 Onion Growing Season Has Begun!

You read that right, the 2016 onion growing season has officially started! The first tasks are equipment preparation, organizing of seed and other inputs, and land preparation.

I have started digging a few ditches. I dug most of our ditches last fall but a couple filled in and had to be re-dug and a couple I skipped to do in the spring. Here are a few pics:

IMG_8540 IMG_8541 IMG_8542 IMG_8548 IMG_8552 IMG_8553 IMG_8555 IMG_8572 IMG_8573 IMG_8574

Look for posts detailing the planting season as it progresses!

Recent media pieces Chris Pawelski has appeared in

I have a few fairly recent media pieces I’ve appeared in since 2014 (well, that is sorta recent, lol) that I’ve scanned and want to share. They are from a number of various outlets, including:

The Goshen Chronicle of November 13-19 2015

The Chronicle November 13-19 2015

The NYS Small Business Development Center 2014 Annual Report

NYSBDC 2014 Annual Report

The Warwick Advertiser February 13-19 2015

Warwick Advertiser February 13-19 2015 pg 1

Warwick Advertiser February 13-19 2015 pg 2

The Goshen Independent April 29 2015

Goshen Indy April 29 2015

The Epoch Times October 16-22 2015

Epoch Times October 16-22 2015 pg 1

Epoch Times October 16-22 2015 pg 2

Der Blatt August 15 2014. This is newspaper for the Orthodox Jewish Community and the article is in Hebrew. I have no clue what it says, lol.

Der Blatt August 15 2014 pg 1

Der Blatt August 15 2014 pg 2

Der Blatt August 15 2014 pg 3

Der Blatt August 15 2014 pg 4

Der Blatt August 22 2014

Der Blatt August 22 2014 pg 01

Der Blatt August 22 2014 pg 02

Der Blatt August 22 2014 pg 03

Der Blatt August 22 2014 pg 04

Der Blatt August 22 2014 pg 05




Just want to blog a quick update.

Since my near death experience this past September (see: I’ve been going to cardiac rehab 3 times a week and am currently taking some new medication. One of those meds is a beta blocker, metoprolol, which I’m taking to slow my heart rate. the main reason? I went to rehab at one point and after I hooked myself up to the equipment I was told I couldn’t particiapte because of my elevated heart rate. Why an elevated heart rate?

This situation:

Also see the update:

I was told to “not think about it” but when your property is being wrongly violated by someone right in front of you it is very difficult to “not think about it.” Hence, the metoprolol. A side effect though of this medication has been that it has made me a bit lethargic, fatigued and lacking energy.

Our case is proceeding forward and our next court date is January 28th. I will continue to post updates. I will also next week post some recent media pieces I’ve appeared in over the summer.

If so inclined if you can support our cause my family would be very appreciative. We need help in supporting our legal fight to restore our ditch and reverse this violation of our property and threat to our drainage. Any help is much appreciated and if people can spread the word we would also be very appreciative! Here is the link for our GoFundMe campaign:

Thank you for your kind support and for following my drivel on this blog!