Fred Huneke, Thorn-Ridge Farm
Watershed Steward Award Recipient, 2013
Award Purpose: To honor a vocal advocate of the Council’s mission of protecting water quality, embracing land conservation, and promoting working landscapes in agriculture and forestry.
Fred first came to Delaware County in 1958 as a summer farm hand while attending State University of New York at Farmingdale where he received a degree in Applied Science. After graduation and military service, he married Marilyn Micklus, a high school classmate from Radburn, NJ. Together they started their career in dairy farming. After working on a farm in Wisconsin, the couple moved to New York where they honed their skills on farms in Dutchess and Putnam Counties.
They returned to Delaware County in 1965 where Fred was hired as the herdsman on the Gerry Estate. In 1968, the couple bought and operated the 165-acre Thorn-Ridge Farm in Delhi. Along the way, Fred and Marilyn had three children: Eric, Cristine and Elizabeth. In the Fall in 2000, Fred retired after 35 years of dairy farming but continues to rent the barn and milking operation to another dairyman who produces fluid milk. In 2005, the Huneke family got back into farming when Fred, Marilyn and daughter Beth built a greenhouse and now operate a small, naturally grown vegetable business.
Fred has been associated with the watershed program since its inception in 1990. He has served as a Council Director, Vice-Chair and presently holds the office of Chairman since 2002. As organizational spokesperson, Fred routinely talks before local, regional, national and international groups about the Council’s watershed protection programs and successes of public-private partnership. Along with serving with the Council, Fred is active in local farming organizations, such as the Delaware County Holstein Club, the County Farmland Protection Board and County Farm Bureau. He also serves on the American Farmland Trust’s New York Agriculture Advisory Board.
Thorn-Ridge Farm participates in the Council’s conservation easement, agricultural and forestry programs, is a current Pure Catskills member, and embraces the clean water mission of the Watershed Agricultural Council.