Maddie / Ben Morley / Roberts

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Farming Status and Plans

Years actively farming:

6-10

Description of farming status, plans, and practices:

Grass + Grit Farm is a pasture based livestock operation started in 2015. We were part of the Hudson Valley Farm Business Incubator operated by Glynwood up through 2018, at which point the incubator shut down and we lost access to the land. We are currently looking for land to relocate our business for the long-term.

We rotationally graze all of our animals to ensure a quality product as well as healthy pasture. We focus on animal welfare, allowing our animals to express their natural instincts while under our care.

In the past, our main focus was our CSA. We offered a unique share that, depending on the year, provided a selection of lamb, goat, pork, beef, chicken, duck, and eggs. Additionally, we sold our meat and eggs through farmers markets and marketed whole/half animals direct to customers, including turkeys for Thanksgiving. 

In the future, we are likely to pare down our enterprises to streamline the business. For the short-term, we would like to focus on pork, beef, poultry, and eggs in addition to a small vegetable garden.

More broadly, we are looking to relocate our business to a property that can be a home for ourselves and our business, for at least the next 10 years.

Description of marketing method:

In the past, we have marketed our products through our CSA, at farmers markets, and to a limited degree, as whole/half animals direct to customer. In the future, we would like to focus on on-site farm sales through a small CSA and farm stand, while increasing our whole/half animal sales.

Does this farmer have a business plan?

Yes

Farm Characteristics

Preferred location:

  • Capital Area
    • Albany
    • Rensselaer
  • Hudson Valley
    • Columbia
    • Dutchess
    • Greene
    • Orange
    • Putnam
    • Rockland
    • Ulster
    • Westchester

Desired acreage:

11-20, 21-50, 51-100, >100

Infrastructure required:

Onsite housing

Description of infrastructure:

For the right piece of land, we do not require any infrastructure (provided the land is for purchase). If the land is to be leased, we need, at minimum, water and electrical access. In either case, we would prefer a property that has a small house in good condition and agricultural water access.

Crops and Livestock

Primary crops:

Vegetables, Hay

Primary Livestock:

Cattle - Beef, Pigs, Poultry

Description of livestock/crops:

In the past, we have raised pigs, beef cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys. Going forward, we are likely to raise beef cattle, pigs, and a mix of poultry for the short-term, in addition to a small, diverse vegetable garden.

Farmland Tenure

Tenure options desired:

For Lease, For Sale

Description of tenure options desired:

We would prefer to purchase a property at this stage. However, given the high cost of land in this region, we are open to long-term (5+ year) leases, especially those that offer a lease-to-own option.

Additional Information

Will this farmer's operation qualify an eligible landowner for an Agricultural Assessment?

Yes

Experience & education:

Formal agricultural education, Farm owner, On farm work experience, Farm internship/apprenticeship, Farmer training or workshop

Experience description:

Grass + Grit Farm is run by Ben Roberts and Maddie Morley. We met while working with livestock at Glynwood, a non profit organization that supports and trains beginning farmers. Collectively, we have over 15 years of farming experience in both vegetable and livestock farming operations.

Ben has a degree in Architecture, but he quickly moved on to the culinary world, attending the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. He's worked at that same culinary school, restaurants, and butcher shops before making the jump to farming. Ben worked at Hatchet Cove Farm in 2013 before apprenticing at Glynwood. After his apprenticeship, he became the Grazing Manager at a local goat dairy before starting Grass + Grit.

Maddie has a degree in Environmental Science and Microeconomics. She started farming as an apprentice at the UC Santa Cruz CASFS program in 2011. She stayed as an Assistant Manager before moving to the Hudson Valley to apprentice at Glynwood where she also stayed for a second year as the Livestock Assistant. Maddie also spent a season at Old Ford Farm, a diversified livestock and veggie operation, before starting Grass + Grit Farm. She is currently to Operations Manager at the National Young Farmers Coalition.