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Latest from Young Farmers

Cara Fraver and Luke Deikis, NY

By Cara Fraver

Quincy Farm is still in its first days, but we have been working on the plan for years.  Luke Deikis, my partner, and I will cultivate organically grown vegetables on abeautiful 48 acre farm on the Hudson River in upstate New York.  We plan to sell CSA shares as the years progress, but in our first year we will market exclusively through farmers markets until we feel confident that we know our land and what we can produce.  In the second year, we hope to sell CSA shares to our neighbors and in the following years branch out to other upstate neighborhoods and eventually New York City’s CSA network.  We have hoped that the direct marketing of CSA shares would allow us to avoid the cost and headache of organic certification, but we are committed to using organic practices.

Like many of the other young farmers we meet, neither Luke nor I come from farming families.  I became very interested in the CSA movement in college and have always been an enthusiastic cook, but never grew a garden. During the first month that we were dating, we grew a little container garden on his porch in the north Bronx.  After that, we always had a garden and with each year, and each new apartment, it grew a little larger.  During our last year in Brooklyn one our friends jokingly dubbed our Quincy Street backyard “Quincy Farm”.  Finally, we left the city to pursue a career in farming by apprenticing on successful CSA farms.

We feel that CSA offers a unique opportunity to farmers.  Logistically, it provides income in the spring when most of the operating costs are due.  It also provides security for the farmers; we will know exactly how much food we need to grow and will be able to predict our income.  I think that CSA fills some deeper needs that I have as a farmer, too. Knowing the people for whom I am growing food is part of the draw of farming.

I am excited about farming for a multitude of reasons. Running an organic farm feels like a way to affect change with the daily motions of my life.  We will work to improve the land where we will live and make it more fertile and healthy every year.  Farming provides me with super-high quality food and the opportunity to talk to others about eating and cooking.  In addition to the idea of connecting with people over such an intimate and important thing as food, I am constantly tested by the day-to-day challenges farming provides.  It tests my skills of observation, mechanics, human interaction, on-the fly decision-making and even my math skills.  As the daughter of a small business owner, the idea of managing a family business is exciting, if a little terrifying. Luke and I are happy to create a family where we can raise our children as part of our entire life, not needing to separate home and work.  We also enjoy making decisions and plans together and it is satisfying to work alongside my best friend.

We developed our business and financial plans over the past two years.  We want to use all of the farm’s income in the first years to build infrastructure quickly in the first years, allowing us to grow rapidly and avoid operating loans.  However, in order to achieve this, we will need to earn enough money off the farm to support ourselves.  While we know this is the best plan for us and know that many other farmers have created their farms while holding down other jobs, we are sometimes overwhelmed by the thought.

The coming months will see major changes for Luke and me.  We’re thrilled for the opportunity to start this business and, at times, frightened by the tasks involved. I’m encouraged by the other young farmers who showing that this can be a successful enterprise.
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