It’s easy to be so impressed by the Root Farm’s legacythat you overlook its current identity and purpose. Its founder, Alice Root, is the great granddaughter of Elihu Root, who served as Secretary of War under McKinley and Roosevelt and Secretary of State under Roosevelt in the early 1900s. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912 for his work in international relations.
Root was a figure of influence in both Washington and New York; he became a leading lawyer in New York and remained politically and culturally active throughout life. He and his family were actively involved with Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where he established a home and farm in the late 1800s that remain an integral part of the college today.
The original Root Farm was several hundred acres of land and barns on College Hill in Clinton. Root felt it of great importance for his children and grandchildren to be exposed to the ways of rural life; his three children, Edith, Elihu Jr., and Edward, established homesteads in Clinton.
Elihu Jr. became a prominent figure in New York City: lawyer, civic leader, and patron of the arts. He built a summer home in Clinton, adjoining his father’s farm, that he gave to his son, Elihu the 3rd, as a wedding gift. That house was the childhood home of the next generation of Root children. Alice was the youngest.
She rode her first horse out of one of the remaining barns of the aging Root Farm, which have become administrative and cultural centers at the college. It was on the acreage of the Root Farm orchards, fields and woods that Hamilton’s sister college, Kirkland, was established in the 1970s. Kirkland has since become fully integrated into Hamilton.
Alice discovered her passion for horses at a very young age. They became her primary motivational force. She believed deeply in a relationship with land and animals as essential to a balanced and rewarding lifestyle for both herself and her four children.
In the late ‘90s, Alice earned her Ph.D in Mythology with an emphasis in depth psychology. The topic of her doctoral dissertation was “Equine-Assisted Therapy: A Healing Arena for Myth and Method.” With the legacy she received from her ancestors, monetary and motivational, she established the proof for her thesis in the form of the equine-assisted therapy center now known as The Root Farm.
Established and cultivated by Alice and her husband, John Dahlin, the center first operated out of their home farm in Vernon Center before moving to its current location. Root Farm has now expanded into a comprehensive equestrian, agricultural and educational enterprise serving individuals of all ages and abilities.
Nearly 15 years after the establishment of The Root Farm, Alice became a candidate for the very therapy she had herself promoted for years. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2011, she already knew from observation and experience that horseback riding was, indeed, the ultimate therapeutic strategy for the treatment of her symptoms. Hours in the saddle every day became both her medicine and her joy, and she continues to maintain both balance and motor control that might otherwise deteriorate. Her life with horses has truly provided her the Wonderland in which her namesake, Lewis Carroll’s young heroine, first resided.
The Root Farm is now located on over 100 acres in Sauquoit, NY; it comprises an innovative complex that features an equine center, agricultural programs, and an accessible adventure center that includes a ropes course, zip line and climbing walls. The complex provides education, recreation, therapeutic horseback riding, vocational opportunities and many volunteer openings.
The Root Farm is one of the largest therapeutic recreational facilities in Central New York. We believe everyone has the ability to… LIVE
People of all abilities are provided the opportunity for a transformative experience through equine, agricultural, and recreational experiences. LEARN
We provide a wide variety of educational programs that allow participants to take care of farm animals, learn to ride a horse, plant and harvest vegetables, or even soar down a 1,000-foot zip line. GROW
We believe in immersive experiences that cultivate new skills, independence, self-worth, and a sense of responsibility.