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  • Writer's pictureIthaca Heritage

Family Farms Keep Tompkins County's Rural Heritage Alive


A mix of tradition and innovation. That’s what it takes to keep a family farm going in this era of factory farming, global markets, and development pressures.

For two Dryden, New York families, multiple generations are maintaining their agricultural legacy in innovative ways. The Sherman family’s Jerry Dell Farm and Ithaca Organics embraced organic agriculture to survive--and thrive. Today the Sherman’s dairy is the largest producer of organic milk in the Northeast.


The Shermans rent grazing land from Maryhill Farm, the Schickel family farm established by Norbert and Marion Schickel in 1946—the same year, coincidentally, that Gerald and Ardella Sherman started their Dryden farm.

The Schickel siblings—who live all over the United States—run their farm as a family-governed LLC that their mother set up to keep the family’s rural legacy alive. An Airbnb rental is one of the innovative enterprises that helps maintain the farm. Several generations of family members gather annually every summer to maintain their ties to the land.


Jerry Dell Farm and Maryhill Farm will be featured during the Ithaca Heritage Authentically Rural Weekend in the Finger Lakes, October 5-7, 2018, which will celebrate the history and current vitality of Tompkins County’s rural life. Enjoy a homestead heritage fair, farm and village tours, a harvest dinner, and a Maryhill Farm brunch as part of the weekend.

Check back at the Ithaca Heritage Authentically Rural Weekend event page periodically for more information.

Originally written for the blog.

Published July 12, 2018.

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