Introducing the 2020 Farm Business Incubator Cohort: Part 1
Glynwood’s Hudson Valley Farm Business Incubator was established to provide customized technical assistance to new and growth stage farm entrepreneurs. Whether farms need assistance in business planning and financial management, social or ecological sustainability, or legal advising and marketing, Glynwood’s Farmer Training staff works with each participating business with a tailored approach reflecting individual farms’ needs and goals.
The Incubator usually involves a series of in-person farm visits, trainings and workshops held at Glynwood, and social gatherings in which Incubator participants can meet one another and discuss shared challenges. Since such activities are currently impossible due to the global pandemic, Director of Farmer Training Dave Llewellyn has remained nimble, providing technical assistance through regular phone check-ins and virtual workshops such as an Emotional Resilience Training and a Marketing Roundtable. Throughout these interactions, Llewellyn has been impressed by the steadfast resilience and optimism he has seen. Although distribution channels have been disrupted and agritourism ventures have stalled, our Incubator farms remain committed to growing high-quality food for their communities and confident in their farming values. We are incredibly proud of these farmers, and are excited to introduce them to you.
This month, we’re featuring three of our first-year Incubator participants: Three Sisters Farm, Premier Pastures, and Featherbed Lane Farm. Stay tuned for more profiles in the months to come!
Roberto Rodriguez of Three Sisters Farm has been farming for three decades, but recently launched his own business.
Premier Pastures will be raising pastured poultry & eggs, along with other livestock species.
Featherbed Lane Farm is a draft horse-powered CSA operation.
Three Sisters Farm is located in Kerhonksen, NY (Ulster County). Along with his daughter Annette, farmer Roberto Rodriguez is busy planning a farmstand on-site and finding other nearby markets at which to sell produce.
Rodriguez has been farming for three decades. As he puts it, farming is in his blood; he finds soil wherever he goes, and starts planting seeds. This season, he looks forward to selling a variety of vegetables, planting lots of strawberries and building more connections in Ulster County.
Premier Pastures is a diversified, pasture-based farm in Clinton Corners, New York (Dutchess County). Farmer Jon McDonald founded the operation in the fall of 2019, and is currently raising grass-fed beef & lamb, pastured poultry & eggs, and woodlot-grazed pork with the help of his border collie, Scout.
McDonald is passionate about regenerative ranching practices. He aims to let animals express their natural instincts, all while sequestering carbon, building local ecosystem resiliency, and raising nourishing, nutrient-dense food. Before starting his own farm, Jon farmed in Gambia and Australia. He additionally holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Management from Western Colorado University.
Premier Pastures leases land in partnership with Meadowland Farm, a diversified vegetable operation led by MaryKate Chillemi and Chris Hausman. McDonald has sold out of this season’s meat CSA shares, but plans to sell eggs and a variety of meat cuts a la carte at the Irvington Farmers Market this season.
Finally, Featherbed Lane Farm is a draft horse-powered CSA operation in Ballston Spa (Saratoga County). Founded by Tim Biello in 2015 with help from the Local Farms Fund, the farm is 63 acres of mixed woods, wetlands and fields, with rich biodiversity and arable land alike.
Biello strives to build soil, protect wildlife, care for his livestock and farm team, and contribute to his community, all while running a viable business and producing nutritious food for about 75 families all year round. Although the pandemic has put agritourism largely on hold, Tim ultimately hopes to have housing on-site for tourists, Skidmore College parents, or community members looking for a weekend farm getaway. Biello is also interested in developing silvopasture and agroforestry operations.
When he’s not in the fields with horses Bear and Duke, Biello additionally works as the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network manager for American Farmland Trust.
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