PINE ISLAND, NY—When Leonard DeBuck arrived in Pine Island, NY as a student intern from Michigan State University, he did not know that the Black Dirt region of Orange County would become home for him, his future family, and a successful sod business. Twenty-eight years later, De Buck’s peers remark on his innovative spirit and leadership.
The New York Farm Viability Institute recently named him a Producer of the Year. Other winners include Kevin Bowman of Bowman Orchards in Saratoga County, who is working with an apple varieties project, and Marvin and Candy Luders and Scott Boldt of Eagle View Dairy in Wyoming County, who are collaborators on a composted bedded pack project.
The award is based on the producer’s willingness to promote farm based/producer driven research projects, and willingness to share ideas and results of research studies.
“I am very grateful and flattered to receive the award from the Farm Viability Institute,’’ DeBuck said.
“It has always been kind of a family trait over the years to continuously challenge or question the farming practices we carry out, and to try new methods in an effort to become as efficient a producer as possible. The award reminds me of my dad as I farm very differently than he did, which has challenged me to adopt new farming methods, and the ability to see change work in a positive way,” DeBuck said.
DeBuck’s Sod Farm consists of 450 acres located along the banks of the Wallkill River. DeBuck, his wife Valorie and their oldest son, Greg, are owner-operators. The farm supplies fresh sod to wholesale nurseries and garden center outlets within a 75 mile-radius of Pine Island, which is located 60 miles northwest of New York City. DeBuck’s sod, which is a blend of Kentucky bluegrass, is used primarily for golf courses, homeowners, and for athletic fields.