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Monday, July 22, 2019

Craigardan Is Home

Craigardan, a 3-year-old educational nonprofit organization with a focus on the studio, agricultural, culinary, and intellectual arts, has landed! This summer the organization purchased a 315-acre property four miles west of the town of Elizabethtown near Hurricane Mountain.  As stewards of this beautiful parcel, Craigardan plans to build an intentionally designed, conservation minded, and accessible campus. It will pay tribute to the history of the site’s early homestead while also responding to, improving, and protecting the potentially wild nature of the recently-logged property. Craigardan left its original Hurricane Road location after negotiations with the property’s owner, one of the co-founders, fell through.

Founded in December 2016 and opened in June of 2017, Craigardan has already supported the work of over 70 artists, chefs, farmers and scholars through its residencies, internships and fellowships.  Our multi- and inter-disciplinary programs, which include community classes, workshops, and events, have served over 500 local, national and international participants.  And, as a founding partner of the regional Food Justice Working Group, Craigardan has worked to convene hundreds of community members for annual summits and regional food systems work.  This year, 2019, Craigardan will launch its first international partner program at the historic site of Gangivecchio in Sicily, Italy.  

“What Craigardan has been able to achieve in its first three years is inspiring and energizing,” notes Craigardan’s executive director and co-founder Michele Drozd. She attributes this success to “the many artists and scholars who found inspiration in the innovative model that stresses inter-disciplinary collaboration, and showcased the local community that supported and participated in this work.” 

While quietly raising the funds needed to purchase our new property, Craigardan conducted a six-month, region-wide search that led us to the land in Elizabethtown. “The community welcomed us, and the property - with its remote sensibility yet significant accessibility - is a perfect fit for our program,” says Drozd.  The momentum in Elizabethtown is strong.  Aaron Woolf, co-owner of the historic Elizabethtown tavern Deer’s Head Inn is a strong supporter of the move: “We’re really excited that Craigardan is coming to Elizabethtown. It feels like a moment in which there is a notable convergence of forward energy here.” With new projects like the Elizabethtown Bike Ranch complementing Otis Mountain and building on the town’s recreational past, Craigardan joins the Adirondack History Museum in revitalizing the town’s rich cultural history. “Elizabethtown has always hosted painters, actors, playwrights, and musicians across the globe – it’s quite an honor that Craigardan with its artistic vibrancy and national reputation has made such a substantial social and economic commitment to our community.”  

“We’re home.  Metaphorically and practically, we’re grounded,” says Kate Moses, Craigardan board member and writer.  “There’s a lot of work yet to do, but here we have the ability to grow and thrive within the amazing Adirondack Park that inspired our founding, and help strengthen the communities that make us unique.”

The new location maintains Craigardan’s original geographic connection to the towns of Keene, Keene Valley, and Elizabethtown while dramatically improving public access and the ability to support and celebrate community engagement. “Plus,” says Drozd, “our sentinel, Hurricane Mountain, is closer than ever and we have a great view of the fire tower from the old farm house.”

Elizabethtown historian, Maggie Bartley, visited Craigardan’s new home to document the site and shared information on the original settler, Manoah Miller; during the War of 1812, Miller came here from Vermont.  The settlement included an old brick kiln, a water-powered saw mill, and a forge.  It is a fitting connection to the future use of the property as an arts center which includes fine craft.

This sense of history and connectivity to place is integral to Craigardan’s program.  Participants come from all over the region and the country and, increasingly, around the world to spend time furthering their skills, their research, and their artwork in and of the Adirondacks.  Craigardan not only offers the time and space for artists to disconnect from their daily routines, but to reconnect with others creatively in a supportive, multi-faceted and richly layered environment.  Lanse Stover, Craigardan’s board president and local artist emphasizes that “The Adirondacks have a long tradition of bringing individuals together to explore and reimagine their views of the world. Our campus must facilitate dialogue between visitors and the local community, between art and environment, between the past and the present, between art, philosophy, food and agriculture. The Adirondacks are the ideal setting for Craigardan to create the space where those conversations can flourish, and then nourish the world.”  

The organization is in the early stages of design, working with various consultants and professionals as well as the APA, local organizations, and community members to create the new campus.  In the interim, Craigardan has partnered with businesses and nonprofits to continue its exciting programming in the region. 

Please consider supporting Craigardan by joining us at this year’s benefit event, Dinner in the Field, on Saturday, September 7th 2019. Visit the property, lend your voice, and support our work.

Our new address is 9216 NYS Route 9N // Elizabethtown, NY 12932