Stories

Read stories about farmers and landowners in New York who have successfully found a farm or farmer, or who are searching for the right match.  

Emma Smalley pictured in a field with one of her goats

Emma Smalley is a first-generation farmer located in Western New York. For the last two years Emma has been managing her own goat operation while gaining the experience and skills necessary to expand her business. Currently Emma is renting a small amount of pasture and barn space from a friend in Alden, NY for her herd of 50 Boer and Boer/Kiko cross goats. She raises these meat goats primarily for sale as Halal meat to customers in Buffalo and throughout Erie County. Emma has taken numerous courses from the Cornell Small Farms Program and completed a meat goat production certification from Langston University to further her own education and prepare for her new business.

Mike Parker pictured in a tractor on his farm

Mike Parker, a first-generation beginning farmer, had been seeking the right opportunity to start a diversified livestock enterprise while working for the National Young Farmers Coalition in Hudson, NY. In 2019, using Farmland for a New Generation New York’s farmland finder website, Mike reached out to the owners of Pinehurst Farm in Otsego county. The property had been a wholesale dairy for decades, but the tenant dairy farmer's upcoming retirement encouraged the landowning family to seek out a new farmer who would prioritize environmental sustainability. Mike's plan for a regenerative grazing operation was a match!

Members of the Wesnofske family pictured with farm equipment

The Wesnofske family has been farming potatoes in Suffolk County for generations, and John Wesnofske and his brothers Rick and Michael grow around 200 acres of potatoes that they sell mostly to regional supermarkets and, occasionally, schools. In addition to the parcels of conserved farmland they own, the Wesnofskes lease other parcels to support their growing business. But given the development pressure on Long Island and high cost of land, there are fewer acres available to farm every day; John reports planting half as many acres today as the family did in the 1990s. This land limitation on Long Island has prompted both farmers and land trusts to think creatively and develop unique strategies so farms can remain viable.

Maddie Morley holding a chicken

Maddie Morley has been working directly with Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming, a Farmland for a New Generation New York Regional Navigator, since she first moved to the Hudson Valley from California in 2013. She started as a Glynwood employee, working first as a Livestock Apprentice and later as a Livestock Assistant, and then went on to participate in their farm business incubator, receiving direct technical assistance from Glynwood’s Director of Farmer Training and Regional Navigator Dave Llewellyn as she began to dream up her own farm business.

Chris Tsimbidis pictured on the farm

While living in New York City, Chris Tsimbidis used to imagine building a diversified farm to produce healthy food while improving the soil, healing ecosystems, and capturing carbon. In October 2019 he enrolled in the Farmer Assistance Program offered by GrowNYC, a Farmland for a New Generation New York Regional Navigator, to prepare a business plan for his future farm. Once he was ready to find land, Chris created a profile on the Farmland for a New Generation New York website and attended a farm tour in the upper Hudson Valley hosted by another Regional Navigator, Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA).

Eugene Kwak, Jack Whettam, Melissa Phillips, and Claire Ko

Eugene Kwak and Claire Ko shared a conviction to do more to support New York farms. As an architect and professor, Eugene had a vision to create a space that would bring farming, food and people together. He spent two years immersed in learning about farming and searching for land. With help from several Hudson Valley Farmlink Network partners, Eugene and Claire bought farmland in Orange County, built a shared home on the land, and found a farm family to partner with, offering them a long-term, secure lease.

Carlos Valery on the farm

Carlos L. Valery Jr. is the fourth generation in his family to be farming, and currently raises grass-fed beef on his farm in Meredith, NY. Carlos immigrated from Venezuela to live in New York City, but after a few years working in Brooklyn, he decided to move upstate and start his own beef cattle operation. Carlos connected to a landowner through AFT's Farmland for a New Generation New York website.

Bari Zeiger on the farm

Good timing is crucial for many aspects of farming, and for Bari Zeiger, one opportunity came at just the right time. During the fall of 2019, Bari was preparing to purchase 12 acres of land in Wyoming County to start a farm of her own, following years of experience working on farms and deciding that she was on the right path. Soon after putting in her first offer, Bari was awarded a microgrant from American Farmland Trust, which she used to help cover the closing costs on the property.

Kramer Farms

The historic Kramer Farms has been in the family since 1848, and has grown to 1,200 acres supporting a grazing dairy herd. The Kramers would like to sell or lease the farm to an enterprising younger farmer, and are willing to do a phased buy-out and remain involved during the transition to a new owner.

Jason Duverney-Gaspar

Jason is a trained horticulturist with a passion for food, farming, and community! Check out his profile to learn about his 5-year plan and his hopes for engaging diverse communities of New York.

Christine and Fabio Ritmo on the farm

Farmers Christine and Fabio first searched for land to lease through the Hudson Valley farmland finder - but what they found was a deeply-rooted connection. One year later, when the landowners decided to relocate, they invited the farmers to join their search for a new property.

Farmer Lee Hennessy in front of barn

Lee Hennessy left his hometown seeking success and happiness on the west coast. After climbing the professional ladder, Lee realized he would be happiest on the ground in a pair of dirty boots. Read how Lee found his way to raising goats and buying his own farm with help from several organizations working together in New York.

Larry Steel and Anthony Mecca stand in front of a barn at Great Song Farm

Larry and Betti decide to leave the city to move to their weekend home in Red Hook with the vision of turning the property into a farm. Learn how they made it happen with a flexible lease with a young, ambitious farmer, and how the farm and its CSA has impacted their connection with the local community.

Farmer Morse Pitts in vegetable field

Morse Pitts watched farms disappear around him for decades as warehouses and factories sprung up around his 142 acre farm in Orange County, leaving Windfall Farms as an island of farmland in an industrial sea. Find out how the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network partners at GrowNYC and Orange County Land Trust helped Morse keep his land in farming and provide opportunities to jump-start the next generation of farmers on his land.

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