Tiny Hearts Farm
Tiny Hearts Farm specializes in growing vibrant cut flowers for florists, retail outlets, farmers markets, and special events. Founded in 2011 by Jennifer Elliott and Luke Franco, Tiny Hearts began as a tiny vegetable and flower farm in Westchester County, NY, on 1 acre borrowed through the local land trust.
Quickly outgrowing their acreage and minimal infrastructure, Jenny and Luke teamed up with Northeast Farm Access and moved their operation to Copake, NY, to become part of the Copake Agricultural Center. Now farming on 12 acres with a long-term lease, Tiny Hearts has been able to invest in infrastructure such as a greenhouse, walk-in cooler, and delivery vans, and has grown to employ five to six farmers and floral designers each season.
Growing about 120 varieties of annuals, perennials, bulbs, and woody shrubs, Tiny Hearts provides flowers to some 20 florists from Hudson to Brooklyn. Local neighbors can participate in a flower share program and pick up fresh bouquets from the farm each week, and wrapped bouquets are delivered weekly to many specialty grocers in Columbia and Westchester counties. Wedding and special-event design has become an important part of the business, and brides can buy buckets of flowers to make their own centerpieces and bouquets, or request full-service floral design and on-site setup of wedding flowers sourced exclusively from the farm.
MX Morningstar Farm
In 2015, MX Morningstar Farm grew on 35 acres at the Copake Agricultural Center with over 200 varieties of crops for CSA, farmers’ markets, wholesale and its farmstand on Mountain View Road, while keeping 30 acres in soil-restoring cover crops. In 2016, the farm will be expanding its wholesale and restaurant accounts, as well as investing in irrigation systems and upgrading cultivation equipment.
“We believe that managing a farm in a holistic and balanced way improves the flavor and productivity of the food we grow, benefiting our community and society as a whole,” says founder and owner Max Morningstar. “We farm using sustainable practices designed to maintain and build the health of our land long into the future.”
Max has been farming since he was 19, when his enthusiasm for excellent food and love of the outdoors led him to enroll in the farmer-training program at the Farm School. After a year co-managing Lookout Farm, he became the founding farm manager of Siena Farms in Sudbury, MA, where he oversaw the growth of a 10-acre startup into a 60-acre established business and worked tirelessly to improve the farm’s stewardship of its land base.
In 2014, he moved to Copake to start MX Morningstar Farm, bringing with him a talented and dedicated crew. Max is deeply committed to developing creative and elegant systems for efficient production that holistically enhance the farm ecosystem and build good life quality for farmers.
Sparrow Arc Farm
Sparrow Arc Farm is owned and operated by Matthew and Heather Linehan and their three young children. Specializing in heirloom and Old World produce, grown predominately for restaurants in Boston and NYC, the farm places an emphasis on growing unusual and rare varieties. Sparrow Arc grows all of its produce according to organic standards, but have never become certified as their current markets do not demand it.
Matthew and Heather Linehan established Sparrow Arc Farm in 2006, growing salad greens on 1.5 acres of rented land in Troy, Maine, with weekly deliveries to Boston. Over the last 10 years the farm has grown to 145 acres of leased fields in Copake, 35 of which are at the Copake Agricultural Center, and will crop 105 of those acres in 2016. They currently serve 40 restaurant customers in Boston and NYC.
In 2015, the Sparrow Arc crew harvested over 300,000 pounds of storage root crops, and stored them in the excess cooler space at NEFA’s Chester Agricultural Center.
Jon and Jen Ronsani are often asked how they came up with Lineage, the name of their farm, which joined the Copake Agricultural Center in 2016. It seems a rather ambitious name when your lease is year to year and you have no customer base, they acknowledged. “We figured something would work out,” they say. “The name is inspired both by the past and what we wish to leave to the future.”
Jon remembers pictures of his relatives working the fields of rural Italy in the early 1950’s. There was a real honesty and joy visible in those faces. He began to ask himself, “How can I aspire to that honesty, that joy?” In that 1950’s Italian rural village, all work was done without machines. Hay was cut by hand and either carried down the mountain on someone’s back or bundled and sent down on a long cable to the valley below. To find the strength and determination of those ancestors felt like a good place to start his search for a joyful and honest living.
“When people see us farming, we want them to see the same will and joy in our work,” say Jon and Jen. To do that, they felt they needed to create a diversified farm, a farm that is in balance, and full of life. “We would need pasture, vegetables, tree fruits, nuts, berries, animals—and the people to enjoy it! When we venture outside every day to our life’s work, it should be inspiring—to us, the farmers, and, just as importantly, to the eaters of our food.”
To fully realize Lineage Farm, full of animals and perennials and abundantly healthy soil life, they needed a secure long-term land base and people who have interest in it as much as they do. “Working with Bob Bernstein and NEFA, we have found this match,” they say. “We have never seen another model that is so willing to work with farmers and views the farmer’s work as an integral piece in creating this picture. After spending the last six years looking for the right land and situation, we are very excited to have the opportunity to settle down and create a farm in line with our vision.”
Jon started farming in 2006 as a volunteer on a biodynamic farm not far from his home in Hudson. Within a year, his jazz guitar train was derailed and he went full-time into farming. He spent five seasons learning vegetable gardening, orchardry, animal husbandry, and how to appreciate a love for one’s life’s work. In 2011 he decided to start his own farming venture, and called it Lineage Farm. In 2015 he realized he had a means to affect food security in his hometown of Hudson, NY. So he did, creating Good Food for Hudson.
Before farming, Jen wore many hats—domestic violence counselor, runaway/homeless youth shelter cook, mediator and trainer of mediators, movie projectionist and landscaper. In 2008, a friend hired her as a part-time farm worker in a small CSA vegetable garden. She was quickly hooked on growing good food, especially good food shared with others. The next season, she took to farming full time, learning the skills of vegetable growing and animal husbandry at various established farms. In 2012, she joined Jon at Lineage Farm, and the rest is history.