Dirty Boots Farm
Shayna Lewis has eight years of farming experience, the last five devoted to urban farming. Although she learned to farm in New England, Shayna returned to her native Brooklyn to focus on the city’s food-system issues and try to increase New Yorkers’ access to and awareness of farms and farm-fresh produce. She and her partner, Matt Hunger, are farming about 6 acres of vegetables at the Chester Agricultural Center in 2015; built a neighborhood CSA in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and are selling at a local farmer’s market. The Dirty Boots website.
Rise & Root Farm
Rise & Root Farm is a 3-acre vegetable farm at the Chester Agricultural Center that plans to grow their operation up to 25 acres over the next few years. It is run cooperatively by an all-star team of six veteran urban farmers and community activists: Lorrie Clevenger, Jane Hodge, Karen Washington, D. Rooney, Michaela Hayes, and Maggie Cheney. Based in New York City and Chester, NY, these talented women are connected by their passion for food, food justice, hands-on education, and farming.
Their lives have been intertwining in various ways for nearly a decade—through their work with the nonprofit food justice organization Just Food; helping to found Farm School NYC; working in various community gardens and farmers’ markets in Brooklyn and the Bronx; founding the Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference, and then going all the way to the other coast, where four of the six apprenticed at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Finally they decided that it was time to unite and collaborate on a larger farming venture and scale up their mission to bring healthy, affordable, locally grown food to New York City residents, particularly those living in low-income communities. The Rise & Root website.
Sun Sprout Farm
Simon Ziegler and Madeleine Banulski met as volunteers in 2006 at an agricultural living community in Pennsylvania called Camphill Village Kimberton Hills. They worked in the biodynamic dairy farm, CSA garden and apple orchard. After completing a degree in Organic Agriculture in Witzenhausen, Germany in 2011, Simon moved to the U.S. permanently and has been the field and commercial-accounts manager at Riverbank Farm in Roxbury, CT, growing 15 acres of organic vegetables the last six years. Madeleine currently works as a nurse.
In 2016 they plan to start a 20-acre organic vegetable farm as part of the Chester Agricultural Center. Their greenhouses are up, new equipment on site and cover crops in the ground. The mixed-vegetable production will supply a variety of markets including CSA, farmers’ markets, wholesale and seed production. The Sun Sprout website.
Verdant Common Growers
Travis Jones grew up working on Blooming Hill Farm, the first organic farm on the Chester black dirt. He has been farming there full-time with his father, Guy Jones, since graduating from SUNY Albany in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science.
In this new venture he, along with his partner, Valita Durkin, and brothers Austin and Skyler, grew 15 acres of mixed vegetables and worked to transition another 20-30 acres of conventionally farmed land toward organic certification. They will be building on Blooming Hill’s model of selling to local restaurants, at farmers’ markets, and to two CSA groups, in Newburgh and Manhattan. In addition to growing produce for retail and wholesale, they provide vegetables for the farm-events business that hosts and caters farm-to-table dinners, private parties and weddings at Blooming Hill.