new york farm

Where the heck is this train taking us?

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In our newsletter last week, there were a few sentences in there that hit us hard. 

We were talking about how, as farmers, we can't just spend our time thinking about how to grow the best pastures and raise the most exceptional food. Because even though this stuff is fun and important, we're also asking ourselves a bigger question of how can we can make the biggest impact and do the most good for our community.

I'm not sure how that last part felt to you. You might have glossed over it.  You probably didn't give it a second thought. But when we read it out loud to each other (yes we do this countless times before we press the send button), we felt so nervous. 

We felt nervous because we really do dream about expanding the reach of this farm and sharing our knowledge beyond this platform.  Sometimes, we can literally feel the farm blowing us in this direction, encouraging us to press pause and consider what more we can be doing to make a difference for even more people. 

The truth is, we don't know how we're going to get to there. We are planners and perfectionists by nature, but we don't have the answer to this big question hashed out just yet. And while that's scary, for sure, we're grateful for all that we do have.... 

We've got a mission that lights us up every single day. We grow amazing food and help families in Rochester eat well.  And, we have YOU and this incredible community of people cheering us on and supporting us at the Brighton Market and Farm Store every week. 

So how might our little farm and the community we're building here in Henrietta change the world?  Well, we're just going to have to wait and find out the answer to that question together because we've got a lot of exciting ideas waiting in the wings, ready for the right moment to hatch.

Your Farmers, 
Jenney and Greg

PS-  Just in case you were worried, none of these wild dreams of ours involve us stopping farming! We intend to continue to raise organic livestock for the long-haul! 

3 Biggest Mistakes in Our First Year of Business

When we started our business back in 2014, we had tons of heart and Greg had plenty of farming experience...but between the two of us we had absolutely NO business experience.  As a result, we made some serious rookie mistakes in our first year of business. 

Here are our Top 3:

1.  We tried to please everyone. 
You want to come over on a Friday night to pick up eggs? Sure. Want to come by early Sunday morning to see piglets? Absolutely. Tour the farm? Of course! Day or night, weekday or weekend. We kept the doors open to everyone and tried to meet everyone's expectations. While we loved saying YES and seeing our friends and new customers happy (we REALLY did!), it meant that we had to say NO to something else. And because we were stretched so thin in the start-up phase of our business, the things we said no to were usually the reeealllly important stuff like self care and nurturing our marriage.  If we looked a little crazed back then, this is why! 

2. We wanted to fit in and be like everyone else. 
You know that nagging voice that tells you that you need to emulate someone that you think is successful, in order to make it? We had this going on BIG TIME during those first few years. For example, we knew other farms with big restaurant deals, so we thought we needed to have this, too. We noticed that a lot of farms farms sell their stuff at multiple farmers markets, so we thought we needed to get on this train. We were searching for an identity by mimicking someone else's. It took us a couple of years to realize that the energy we spent trying to be like other businesses we admired, actually worked against us. In truth, it stifled our creativity and our self expression.  Oops!  When we started to really dig deep explore what WE actually wanted for our business and our lives, EVERYTHING shifted.  

3. We almost never took days off. 
You know when you love something so much that it feels like you have an endless amount of energy to pursue it? This was us (and still is). We woke up early, stayed up late, worked through meals, and pushed our bodies and minds to the limit during those first couple of years. This intense drive meant that we almost never took real days off during the main farming season. Our bodies gave us some subtle clues that we were overdoing it, but we didn't listen. That is...until Greg lost sensation in his left foot and was referred to a neurosurgeon for possible back surgery for a pinched nerve (fortunately this was unnecessary and it healed on its own).  From that point forward, we made a point to schedule days off every week so that we can rest and do things away from the farm. 

We have compassion for our rookie mistakes because we know that they got us where we are today. But, we are striving for more. Our farm's purpose is to produce exceptional food to improve the health of our community, to practice humane animal husbandry,  and to educate our community about organic farming, but we also need to keep our bodies, our minds and our relationships healthy. We are sooooo happy that we've made so much progress in these areas this year and are always looking at ways to improve even more next year.  

Thanks for sticking with us through the growing pains! 

Your farmers, 
Jenney and Greg

Why We Grow Ginger

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Unlike a lot of area farmers that grow lots of different vegetable crops, we focus our energy on our livestock and just two specialty crops: ginger and turmeric. If you're wondering why we chose to grow these two plants, you are not alone. It seems pretty random. That is, until you hear the backstory. 

Greg was mid-way through his PhD in chemistry when he decided he wanted to follow his calling and become a farmer (If you don't remember this story, click here to learn more. It's a good one!). His initial vision was a diversified organic vegetable and livestock farm. With this in mind, after graduating, he got started working on veggie farms right away. After a few years, when he felt like he had a solid foundation in veggie farming, he began learning more about raising livestock.

When we found our land here in Henrietta, Greg realized that livestock farming was not only what was best suited for our land, but it was really where his heart was. However, something about working in tilled soil, the colors and variation of vegetable production, kept pulling him back to wanting to grow produce. So, he made a new plan. Livestock we would be our focus, but we would choose one or two specialty produce crops to complement the healthy proteins we were growing. 

Now came the the tricky decision figuring out what plants to grow. Like the scientist that he is, Greg researched! We considered rhubarb, basil, sunflowers, ginseng, horseradish, lavender, until he eventually found some journal articles about growing ginger/turmeric in the northeast and something just clicked. Around this same time, a local farmer shared about his success with growing ginger alongside his beef/chicken/veggies, and this gave us the final push to dive in. 

While we absolutely love raising our animals, we are equally passionate about tending to these two incredible plants. They take FOREVER to grow and are very time-intensive to harvest (more on this process coming next week), but the final product is as extraordinary as anything we've ever grown and it keeps us coming back for more year after year. 

Your Farmers, 
Jenney and Greg

PS-In case you're wondering.... harvest starts in a few weeks. We will keep you posted when it's ready!

Joy and Purpose with Pigs? Heck Yeah!

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From the very beginning, when we first decided to raise pork here at Stonecrop Farm, Greg knew we were going to have our own breeding program. Few area farmers do this but it was very important to us and here's why:

1. Breeding here means that we can guarantee the animals we raise are treated humanely from the day they're born, to the day they go to the butcher and are always clean, organic, and healthy. 

2. Breeding here means that we don't need to buy piglets from farms that might not share the same standards that we have when it comes to animal husbandry, rotational grazing, and organic principals. 

3.  Lastly, we wanted to know (with absolute certainty) that the flavor and texture of our pork is exceptional every single time, which you might not get with pigs from different farms with varied genetics and histories. 

Knowing all of this, livestock farmers like us try to select their sows carefully. We consider things like the sow's temperament, their farrowing abilities, mothering instincts, their hardiness to weather extremes, the flavor profile, and the cute-ness factor ( I mean, those spotted piglets are just the best, right?).

We've lucked out so far and wound up with 5 great sows and a feisty boar that are perfect for our systems. Though they are certainly an investment in terms of our energy and resources, we've found that raising pigs this way brings us joy and purpose and I've learned that that feeling is always a good sign that we're on the right path.    

We love hearing from you! What do you think about our breeding program? What does this aspect of our farm mean to you? 

Your Farmers, 
Jenney & Greg
 

"A peasant becomes fond of his pig and is glad to salt away its pork. What is significant, and is so difficult for the urban stranger to understand is that the two statements in that sentence are connected by an and, and not by a but." 
John Berger, About Looking 1980