Where They Are Now: Why This Farming Family Gives Back

May 30, 2019

It was milking time at Asgaard Farm and Dairy in Au Sable Forks – the second of the day on this sweltering Sunday in July. Leo, a Great Pyrenees, led the way while 65 goats followed him to a holding area where they would be sorted. David Brunner milked the herd in the morning; his wife, Rhonda Butler, would handle the evening round. Their daughter, Joanna, was visiting for the weekend, which meant rolling up her sleeves to pitch in.  

After decades of working and living in Manhattan, being full-time on the farm – and in the Adirondacks – is “where they are now,” as Rhonda put it. The farm they operate was made famous by the artist Rockwell Kent who named it Asgaard, or “garden of the gods” in Norse Mythology. David and Rhonda bought it in 1988, and brought it back to life after a period of dormancy. Since then, they have been at the forefront of a resurgence in local agriculture, helping to mentor young farmers in the region. Today, Asgaard produces and distributes upwards of 10,000 pounds of goat cheese per year along with pastured meats and other farm products.  

Just as they’ve made the farm flourish, David, Rhonda and Joanna also like to help nonprofits grow and thrive. The Asgaard Fund through Adirondack Foundation allows them to do just that. “We are doing this together,” David said, noting that their Donor Advised Fund will outlast all of them. “So long as Joanna does her job,” he added with a loving wink.

The Asgaard Fund and Asgaard Farm both reflect this family’s deep connection to the Adirondacks. They give because they care and want to make a difference. Their interests have traditionally been in the environment, agriculture and public radio. Joanna, a 2013 Colgate graduate who works for High Mowing Organic Seeds, in Vermont, contributes to the Fund and brings new interests into the family’s grant recommendations. We are honored to help them align their giving with their passions, and delighted that David serves on the Foundation board and Joanna, our Next Gen Council.  

“I love it here. I want to stay connected in multiple ways and in ways that have lasting impacts,” Joanna said while Alpine, Nubian and Saanen goats pined for her attention – or stood aloof, depending on their disposition – and Leo was staying cool until it was time to go back to work.  

For more information about establishing a fund with Adirondack Foundation, contact Janine Scherline, janine@adkfoundation.org. For more information about our Next Gen work, contact Stanzi Bliss, stanzi@adkfoundation.org. Or, call us at 518.523.9904.  

 

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