A tour for Princeton students and a little bit of family history about my great grandparents Frank & Julia Pawelski

Back in the fall of 2012 I was contacted by an individual named Loren Cardeli. He has a neat organization he created called “A Growing Culture” of which he is the Executive Director.


Well, after a series of conversations he asked if I could host and help him set up an agricultural tour for a group of students in a journalism class at Princeton. I’ve done that many times before and told him it sounded like fun and would be happy to help. I eventually set him up with our local Agricultural specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension Maire Ullrich and she helped arrange other stops on their tour.

So on November 12th, 2012, the class came to my farm. It was actually a journalism class, co-taught by 2 guest instructors. The instructors were two powerhouse instructors, Owen Bennett Jones of the BBC and P. Sainath, the Rural Affairs editor for The Hindu, the largest english newspaper in India.

I have done many such tours before but this class, which I believe were freshman, was one of the brightest and most articulate groups I have ever dealt with. It was an extremely fun event for me. I got to blab for about two hours. It was “Chris-unplugged.” I at the time though did not realize who either of them were, much to my embarrassment later.

After I finished and before the group went on to their next stop, both Professors introduced themselves and asked if they could interview me for subsequent pieces. P. introduced himself as an editor at The Hindu and Owen introduced himself as a BBC correspondent. I happily agreed.

P Sainath and I had a number of discussions over the phone and the outstanding piece by P. Sainath that ran in the December 3rd edition of The Hindu was entitled “Knowing your onions in New York.”


Owen called me the next day after the tour and when his name popped up on the caller id I immediately felt like a total idiot. He never said his name as we spoke and I profusely apologized to him that I didn’t recognize him. I’ve heard him many times over the years when his BBC reports have been carried by local National Public Radio stations. he was not offended at all and we had a few conversations and I sent him a number of materials about my family in particular and my public policy activities over the years, which totally fascinated him.

A few years ago my second cousin Theresa Hutt put together a family history of the Pawelski side of the family. This history included a number of fascinating documents. So I sent it on to Owen.

On November 24th, 2012, Owen’s profile of my family, including my great-grandfather Frank as well as my policy work aired. It was one of his segments for “From Our Own Correspondent.” Here is the link, just fast forward to the 18:30 mark:


Owen’s piece’s like the piece by P. Sainath, is fantastic. I just love how he correctly pronounces our last name.

Here is a link to my new public policy organization Farmroot, which is what I alluded to when I spoke to Owen:


Finally, here are some pages from my second cousin’s family history document as well as some old photos of my family, including my great grandfather Frank and grandmother Julia.

As I have mentioned multiple times previously my campaign to raise funds for an editor will be featured in an upcoming episode of the new Crowd Funder Show.


What is the Crowd Funder Show and what does it mean to appear on the show? According to their website:

The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability. Each episode focuses the spotlight on six or seven inspiring projects and personal goals that give the viewing audience insight into the campaign, its principal, and the reason(s) why it should come to fruition. The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability.

What is so neat about their crowd funding method, versus Kickstarter’s, is that it is not “all or nothing.” Further, the rewards are much more exciting. Again, from their website:

Viewers can choose to support the projects they watch by contributing directly to the campaign website or by calling a toll-free number. The Crowd Funder Show rewards contributors with sponsored gift cards for the same amount of money they contribute, up to $100. Supporting people and their projects has never been easier so it’s no wonder you can’t help but feel like you’re a part of something special. The Crowd Funder TV Show is an interesting, inspiring program that highlights human ingenuity and co-operation.

When you go to my page you will see locations once can choose from for the gift card include: Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot and Toys R Us. So, if you plan on doing any shopping at any of these locations anyway you are essentially donating to my cause for free. A total win-win!

Enjoy the pictures!


My great grandfather, taken not long before his passing in 1968.


My great grand parents Frank & Julia Pawelski along with my Aunt Clara and I believe cousin Denise, taken in 1954.


My great grandfather and my dad, Richard Pawelski.


You do what you can ….

A few weeks ago it rained 6 inches over a roughly 4 day period. It was an extended “soaking rain,” not a fast downpour that ran off into the drainage ditches. Over the past month or so we have gotten close to 10 inches of rain, including nearly 2 early last week.

That is not good for crops. Many fields do not have proper drainage, for whatever reason, and you have subsequent sections and spots where the plants (in my case, onions) literally start to drown and suffocate from a lack of oxygen being available to the roots.

See this CCE newsletter, pages 2-3 for details: ImageImage

So, what can you do?

First, on June 28th I applied nitrogen to my most damaged fields.

Then, on Saturday and Sunday I went in with my Ac-G and duck hooks and hooked all of my wet spots, in an attempt to aerate the soil and dry the ground out.



As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we came within a hair of having another major flooding event with the Wallkill River. If we had gotten 7 or 8 inches of rain versus 6 or if the rain had come down in the form of a heavy downpour that mostly drained off versus slower rains that saturate the soil we probably would have seen an 8th “50 year flood.”

And that is an outrage because a river of that size should be able to handle a 7 or 8 inch rain event over a 4 day period. The reason why it can’t is because it has not been maintained. I and my neighbors cannot afford another flood of the magnitude and timing that occurred in 2011. If it happens again you can kiss most of the farming in the black dirt region goodbye!


The usual and some wacky odds and ends ….


So … first, I’m looking to buy a used jeep to replace my ailing Ford Explorer/Eddie Bauer. Been on Craigslist for a few months and finally spotted a potential up in Rock Hill, NY, about 45 minutes north of me. My dad called the guy and we set off to look at it this morning. On the way dad and I chatted … here is the best exchange:

Dad: “I went to see the urologist yesterday morning.”
Me: (pausing from texting and perked up for what was about to be delivered) “And?”
Dad: “The doctor wanted a urine sample, but I didn’t have to go much. When I handed it to them I said, ‘my fluids are low, if I was an engine a check fluid light would have gone off to alert me.'”
Me: “How on earth did they react?”
Dad: “They laughed … that’s cute isn’t it, it just popped into my head.”
Me: “What did mom think?”
Dad: “She said ‘that’s not funny Richie!'”

Before we knew it, we got to the exit off of NY 17 for Rock Hill. The seller told my dad to call him for final directions when we got off the exit. The exit ended in a t and we chose to slowly go to the right. I tried to call the dude but the phone eventually went to voicemail. We pulled off the road and I tried again. On the third time he picked up. It sounded as if I woke him up, or he was stoned. I told him we just got off the exit and he said to go left and then said something about a sharp curve and even after repeating himself four times I could not decipher the rest of what he was saying. We proceeded along slowly and within a half mile or even less we saw the jeep.

As we pulled in the driveway we found debris everywhere, toys, and just general stuff, including what appeared to be a ripped open bag of garbage. Shortly after we got out of the car the owner appeared. We shook hands and then he proceeded to back the truck up for us. There was considerable more rust and damage than he indicated in the ad … and the truck was a filthy mess inside of it. My dad says to the owner “looks like you put up the picture of the good side” and then chuckled like he does. The guy either just woke up or was on something. My dad says to him “there’s quite a bit of rust here” and he responds with, a bit loud, “what, are you crazy?”

I just want to get out of there … we are on the border of the lands with the sort of people that make you squeal like a pig … if you get my drift, and I don’t want to irritate anyone. I’m giving my dad looks to shut up, which he never saw. We left it with I would get back to him.

Me: “I don’t want that, it’s not worth a fraction of what he’s charging. And it was filthy inside. Who sells something like that?”
Dad: “I know, and did you see the cup holder? It was wet … with something sticky in it.”

My dad made a point of mentioning this to me like 3 times.

On the way back my dad says:

Dad: “What a mess outside, what do you think it looked like inside? I wouldn’t give him $100 for it. And the wife was still sleeping he said …at 9:30, still sleeping.”
Me: “I know.”
Dad: “One time a couple of years ago I went to see an air compressor that I saw an ad for. Place looked like this one outside. The guy invites me inside … he has the compressor in his BEDROOM … in his bedroom (chuckles). What a mess, guys sleeping all over. I was going to buy it but he said ‘how do I know your check is good?’ What does he think I’m going to do, it’s a good check! I ended up not buying it.”

I thought this would be the most interesting exchanges for me today. But I was wrong. At around 1pm I got a call from someone in Goshen. Speaking of “squealing like a pig” as I mentioned before …

Me: “Hello?”
Woman: “Is this the farm on Pulaski Highway?
Me: (short pause) “Uhm, yes, one of them.”
Woman: “One of them … good. Can you tell me who has some pigs? I have a bunch of relative from NYC who are coming to visit today. They have a bunch of small children. They’d like to see some baby pigs. Know where we can find them?”
Me: (holding back laughter … and thinking about my friend from the Ukraine Boris who stopped at the farm a few years ago looking for “back fat from pig, 2 to 3 inches thick, 2,000 to 3,000 lbs”) “Well … offhand no but let me ask my friend Maire at Cornell Cooperative Extension and see what I can find out. I’ll text her and call you back.”
Woman: “Thank you!”

About an hour later Maire texted me back and said she knew of no one locally that raised pigs, or had a petting zoo like that, but, they could go to Bellvale Farms Creamery in Warwick and they have tours of their dairy farm on the weekend and great ice cream. So, I called her back, related the information and she was very excited and thanked me profusely.

Strangest thing today … of course the day isn’t over yet.