News from the Noteworthy
Some people talk about wanting to change the world. Others get up at 4 a.m., put on coveralls and muck boots and go do it: Meet Tianna Kennedy, Walter Riesen, and Amanda Wong, owners of Star Route Farm in Charlottesville, northern Delaware County.
Their purpose is not just to nourish themselves and others, but to serve as instruments for justice, seeking answers to these questions: ”Why should the healthiest food go to the highest bidder? Can local farmers more effectively feed our region? How do agriculture students see their futures? How to support social and environmental justice during world-wide climate change?”
Their answer is Star Route Farm. It raises organic produce and heads the 607CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
In 2021 the farm and 607CSA employed 16, helped support 38 farm and food businesses across the 607 area code, and worked with 36 distribution locations. It helped feed over 600 CSA participants, whose membership is sliding scale – based on what they can afford, no questions asked. It donates food through Otsego, Delaware, and Schoharie Counties, as well as all over NYC – working with non-profits, mutual aid organizations, and food pantries. The farm and 607CSA donated $150,000 worth of food in 2021 and will donate more in 2022.
Star Route Farm faces every challenge of small scale farming: finding seasonal labor, unpredictable weather, no crop insurance, intense time demands at planting and harvesting, and managing logistics for timely distribution of fresh crops. In 2022, Star Route Farm is growing black beans, soybeans, faro, sunflowers, millet, potatoes, and garlic – on new fields. The existing eleven acres is lettuces, other leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, other herbs, onions, leeks, cabbages, beets, melons, corn, sweet and hot peppers, turnips, radishes, squash, fennel, beans, artichokes, eggplants, and more.
Kennedy notes, “It’s a lot of work putting a seed in the ground, but it’s small compared to getting the harvest to market.“ The CSA distributes to food desert areas in central New York and similar areas in New York City. Getting to market involves large costs for small farms, such as transportation and refrigeration, so 607CSA aggregates shipping to help manage costs. Even so, trucking and renting coolers is 20% of the gross cost of 607CSA food production.
Winters are filled with planning, repair, recruiting new CSA subscribers, further education on organic farming, and starting thousands of plants in high tunnel greenhouses. Winters also include writing funding applications. The economics of small scale organic farming mean local grants and donations are important, since federal and state funding typically goes to larger traditional farms. Star Route Farm welcomes donations at its website, starroutefarmny.com and welcomes volunteers to assist on the farm.
Despite the challenges, at the late end of every day, Star Route farmers describe themselves as, “Dirty, scrappy, hungry, tired, sore, trying, and full of love for what we do.”
Authored by Sustainable Otsego. Since 2007 we have promoted ecologically sound practices – locally, regionally, and nationally. We advocate sustainable living, economic independence, and home rule.
Visit sustainableotsego.net or facebook.com/SustainableOtsego.