Sailing into Newport, RI, you are taken back in time the moment you pass Fort Adams to starboard. You might pass by on a picture-perfect evening in July, enjoying a light, refreshing breeze, with the sun setting over the Newport Bridge. Or you might sail by while Jimmy Buffett is playing for his fans, on land and sea, as he did at last year’s Folk Festival. Regardless of when you do make your passing, you can rest assured it will be a peaceful one.
Established in 1799, Fort Adams was the most complex fortification in the western hemisphere. Standing as a beacon of national security, its mere presence deterred enemy attacks, leaving battle plans to collect dust in the captain’s quarters storage.
John Adams, our second president and the man after whom the fort was named, was given the gift of national security and afforded the peacetime he needed in order to get a young America onto its feet. Today as you approach Fort Adams by car, you will pass a farm to your left. The farm is not open to the public, but ironically it too plays a vital role in the security of our nation now, just as its neighbor did over 200 years ago.
The SVF Foundation is located on 35 acres, including an 11-acre site that was part of the old Hammersmith Farm, childhood home to Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Its mission is to protect our food supply by preserving our heritage breeds-the same animals that roamed our fields during the 1700s and 1800s, when John Adams was president.
After rigorous research and thought, Dorrance H. Hamilton, member of the Campbell Soup family and both a graduate and a benefactor of Thomas Jefferson University, founded the SVF Foundation. Her purpose in doing so was to preserve our heritage breeds, which are essential to our food supply, as a gift to you, me, our children, and our children’s children.
The animals that roamed America’s fields during the days when Fort Adams was established were hardier and had greater immunity, as well as better mothering skills and the ability to forage. Preserving our heritage-breed animals is important because it protects us from the many risks facing our current animal food sources, including disease, natural and unnatural disasters, and a lack of diversity. For example, up until about thirty years ago, six types of cows supplied our dairy. Today, only one type, the Holstein, provides 90%. Our dairy cow herd consists of 9 million cows, of which 8.1 million are Holsteins. This means that the cow we depend on for dairy has only one of six bulls in its pedigree. Imagine if the Holstein supply were to be disrupted.
As I have mentioned, the SVF Foundation is not open to the public. You can, however, visit for a few hours one day a year, as I did with my family. If your plans don’t allow for this, I recommend that you visit their website at http://www.svffoundation.org/. You will leave with a new appreciation for their work on the security of our nation’s food supply.
E.J. Smith is Managing Director of Richard C. Young & Co., Ltd. an investment advisory firm managing portfolios for investors with over $1,000,000 in investable assets.