Around the Island

Friday Night Dialogues presents ‘The Bullish Farmer’

The Shelter Island Library is pleased to work with the Hamptons Doc Fest and Sylvester Manor Educational Farm in presenting “The Bullish Farmer” on Friday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m.

Over a decade ago, John Ubaldo, aka “John Boy,” was a successful Wall Street investment banker, though he didn’t fit the stereotype. He wore custom suits and fancy ties, but loved to park his Ford Bronco between the Ferraris and Lamborghinis. When his best friend died in the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, a distraught Ubaldo decided to give up his high finance career and start a small farm on the Battenkill River in Cambridge, N.Y.

His plan was to raise crops and livestock using farming methods from 100 years ago. John raises Berkshire pigs, Black Angus cattle, chickens, ducks, geese and turkey, all of which are allowed to roam the woods and fields of the farm. The animals lead a stress-free life and John’s farm is free of antibiotics, hormones, heavy metals, growth promoters, pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified ingredients. 

John’s dream of a simple agrarian life has not been without struggle. When he tried to source food for his pigs, he realized that he was out of sync with “Big Ag” — the prevailing farming methods in the United States. The commercial animal feed available in the United States is made from genetically engineered seed produced by globalist companies.

John turned to his neighbor Jim Larsen, the area’s local pig expert, to develop their own feed. Instead of using GMO corn, they grew conventional corn, ground it themselves, and added specially sourced vitamins and minerals. John also used age-old techniques such as crop rotation, reduction of fertilizers and crop diversity. Not wanting to be forced into unsustainable and unhealthy practices, John became a passionate activist for clean food, animal welfare and environmental health.

“The Bullish Farmer” quietly conveys John’s tenacity as he and other rural farmers fight Big Ag one day at a time. Filled with bucolic vistas, the film demonstrates why John’s mission matters and why his hard-won success proves that change can happen “…one farmer, one seed, one community at a time.”

Hamptons Doc Fest Founder Jacqueline Lofaro will introduce the film. Jocelyn Craig, Windmill Field Manager at Sylvester Manor, and members of the farm crew will lead a discussion after the film.

Up next: On Friday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m., Tom Cronin and Toby Green will talk about their epic jet-ski adventure to raise funds for Scleroderma research.