Maddie Morley holding a chicken

A Young Farmer Finds Opportunity and Security during the Pandemic with Help from a Regional Navigator

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. It was in this incubator program where Maddie, her partner Ben, and another business partner started Grass + Grit Farm, a livestock operation focused on the health of their animals and the land they farm. When the farm incubator transitioned to a new model in 2018 and they lost access to the land, the Grass + Grit team began looking for land to lease in the Hudson Valley using the Farmland for a New Generation New York website. In early 2020, they started thinking of buying land instead of leasing and were approved for a mortgage in early March, just as the coronavirus pandemic hit New York.

Once the real estate market opened back up in May after the initial shock of the pandemic, Maddie saw property in the Hudson Valley sell very quickly and for far above the listing price, which stalled her search for land to purchase. During this time, Dave Llewellyn sent Maddie a job listing for a Farm Manager position at Wheatley Farm in Stanfordville that had been posted on the Farmland for a New Generation New York website. Maddie’s existing relationship with this Regional Navigator meant she was able to get her application in early with a great reference and ultimately ‘land’ a coveted farm management position. At Wheatley Farm, Maddie will be charged with incorporating poultry and regenerative practices, like rotational grazing, into their wholesale and direct-to-consumer meat operation. Although her dreams of farmland ownership have not come true yet, Maddie sees this position as a rare opportunity to manage a farm property long-term and implement the regenerative practices she values so much.

Published in February 2021

Photo credit: Ethan Harrison Photography