Marist Responds to Allegations of ‘Destroying’ Sprout Creek Farm
The future of a beloved local farm is reportedly in jeopardy, and many are blaming Marist College.
In 2018 Marist College announced that they would be assuming control of Sprout Creek Farm, but critics say that the deal has fallen short of what the school promised. The 200-acre site on Lauer Rd. in Poughkeepsie has been in operation for over 25 years, serving as a non-profit educational farm for children and adults.
After falling into financial difficulties, Marist's president, David Yellen, announced in January of 2018 that the college would take control of the farm, offering financial support and integrating their educational programs into the school's curriculum. Marist's executive vice president, Dr. Geoffrey Brackett said at the time,
Sprout Creek will play a key role in Marist’s experiential learning programs by serving as a living classroom and providing hands-on learning opportunities for students in a variety of academic disciplines.
Since then, Yellen has stepped down as president. That's when some are claiming the partnership between the school and farm drastically changed.
A Facebook group titled "Save Sprout Creek Farm" claimed that Marist's current president, Dennis Murray, decided to cut back funding for the farm. Organizers alleged that construction on the farm's creamery suddenly ended when financing was pulled. The unfinished work meant that the farm could no longer produce cheese, their main source of income.
It was also alleged that the farm has been prevented from hiring any new staff to fill vacant positions. We reached out to Sprout Creek Farm to find out more details about their current financial situation, but our request for comment was not returned. The "Save Sprout Creek Farm" Facebook group has also been deleted.
This hasn't stopped former employees and other supporters of the farm to continue to complain about the alleged "destruction" of the farm by Marist College. Comments on various community group pages claim that the farm's future viability is now at risk, something Marist vowed to ensure after taking over control of Sprout Creek just two years ago.
Marist College released a statement this morning, answering those claims. The school maintains that it has supported the farm for the past few years, as agreed, and has made a significant financial investment in its infrastructure. However, the official statement goes on to claim that Sprout Creek Farm did not disclose all of the issues that it was facing, causing unexpected expenses and resources. Because of this, the college is currently reassessing their arrangement with Sprout Creek Farm.
After Marist assumed control of the Farm, we learned of some issues facing it that had not been disclosed to the College prior to the transfer of control. These facts, coupled with the unanticipated expenditure of continued time and resources, have necessitated a reassessment of the arrangement. At this time, the College is working to determine the best path forward with all of the involved stakeholders, including the Farm and the Society of the Sacred Heart.
You can read Marist's full statement here.
The college's agreement with the farm is reportedly over in 2021. It's unclear if Marist will continue to support the farm after that, or if Sprout Creek Farm would be forced to continue on their own.
Events are currently continuing at the farm as planned, including Baby Goat Yoga and a spring break camp scheduled for April 6.