Area home schoolers visit Buckbee family's Bellvale Farms

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:14

    WARWICK-Flexability and diversity! Those are the reasons most of the local area parents, who brought their children to Bellvale Farms, gave for home schooling. If they were in public school, they argued they couldn't easily take field trips like this or participate, as they recently had, in a week long archeological dig in Pine Island. The mothers, who also happen to be the teachers, had also made the decision to take their students to a working dairy farm. On Monday, June 21, the home schoolers, who came from Orange and Rockland Counties and nearby parts of New Jersey, visited the 7th generation family farm now owned by Al and Judy Buckbee. Part of the picturesque 460-acre farm has been in the family since 1819. The Buckbees own one of Orange County's top producing herds, over 50 registered Holstein cows, and about 60 heifers. The cows are milked twice each day. In addition to dairy farming, the Buckbee family also run a summer vegetable market and a retail ice cream parlor, Bellvale Farms Creamery, at the top of Mt. Peter just off Route 17A. The charge against the public schools is not entirely fair. Until recently, school children from the Monroe-Woodbury School District visited Bellvale Farms every year. "They lost the funding for this in the latest budget," reported Al Buckbee. The home schoolers, however, provide their own transportation, and are free to take as many field trips as they wish. During this visit, Al Buckbee, his son Skip and daughter Amy Noteboom, were on hand to explain the entire milk producing process and answer any questions. Buckbee also explained that modern milking and pumping machinery has only been in widespread use since the end of World War II. Before that, local farmers delivered their milk in 80 pound cans to what is now the site of the CVS store in the Village of Warwick. Bellvale Farms participates in the Purchase of Development Rights program.