Madalyn Warren is one of the great agricultural ambassadors of the Catskills, and she has shared her knowledge and passion on the WIOX airwaves since the early days of the community radio station.
Warren is one of three hosts of “The Farm Hour” which airs every Monday evening from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. and she generally hosts every third week.
“It’s agriculture related. We do spend a good amount of time focusing on local agriculture, but we certainly cover stories and news from around the world,” Warren said.
When “The Farm Hour” first began, it was cohosted by Warren and Ellen Wong, an artist and educator. They have since broken up the hosting responsibilities and added a third host, naturalist Erwin Karl. One feature of the program is “On The Farm” interviews that shed a light on the various ways farmers make a living in different regions.
“I really enjoy doing the “On The Farm” interviews where I go to visit the producers at their production sites and we talk about what they do; why they do it.”
Warren is an organic farmer herself and is especially interested in organic practices, but said, “However, I understand that there are many ways to get the food on the table. So, I talk to everybody.”
She added, “I enjoy the “On The Farm” interviews, but specifically the ones I have done with old timers, Ronnie Ballard talking about cauliflower and Cliff Oakley talking about life as a dairy inspector.” While there’s a focus on local farming, the three hosts know to bring their recorders with them on the road, and have done numerous interviews with farmers from vastly different regions. Karl has conducted interviews in Florida, and Warren has interviewed producers while visiting places such as Ecuador and South Korea.
“As a producer myself, life can exist in a pretty tiny bubble. So, the show forces me to get out and see and hear what other people are doing. That is my personal reward.”
Warren is also well known for her family-run East Branch Farms in Roxbury. East Branch Farms has been in operation for six years and grows mixed vegetables with an emphasis on brassicas, or cruciferous vegetables. The farm also grows crops for fermentation to be used in its popular kimchi.
“We’re proud of our kimchi. As a value-added product for our farm, it’s been, I believe, really important for our little supply chain here,” she said, “But, it’s a high quality product and people are really looking for healthy food for their lives and our kimchi is made from veggies straight from the field.”
The bounty from East Branch Farms can regularly be found at the Pakatakan Farmers’ Market in Halcottsville, farmers’ markets in Kingston and Callicoon in addition to at least seven green markets in New York City. Side dishes and to-go food can also be found in the farm’s deli coolers on premises.
Warren has been a volunteer on the Round Barn of Halcottsville Board of Directors for five years, which oversees the Pakatakan Farmers’ Market, and currently serves as the board’s president.
East Branch Farms also hosts Korean Barbecues, with Warren saying, “The demand for our food has been high so we thought to host dinners here.” Warren noted that the menu for the dinners changes but that it always features fresh, seasonal vegetables from the farm.
“The Korean table is a communal-style table. Everybody shares the food from the side dishes and the main. So, we’re following that same Korean eating style here with our barbeques.”
Warren and her brother Arthur, were both born in South Korea. Growing up in the isolated Adirondacks, Warren noted that Korean culture was prevalent in their home. Thanks to their mother.
“She has influenced our food service here in a big way,” Warren said of her mother.
Warren has lived in Roxbury for 16 years, and attributes much of the success of both her farm and radio show to the community.
“We all know this isn’t the easiest place to live,” Warren said, “Luckily for us, we have a lot of supportive neighbors and friends. We like it here very much, for the people and the landscape.”