Our friend, Sean Nutley, at the deliciously-designed Blue Cashew Kitchen Homestead in Kingston, N.Y. recently connected us to Tessa Edick, founder/executive director of the dynamic FarmOn! Foundation. This incredible source for good is based out of the historic Empire Farm in the bucolic Hudson Valley hills of Copake, New York. (Pictured above is Empire Farm. All pictures courtesy FarmOn! Foundation)
Established in 1830, Empire Farm is now at the center of the future of food and farming, serving as the home base to the FarmOn! Accelerator. Students interested in pursuing careers in agriculture and business, culinary arts, forestry, engineering, energy or the environment come here to learn the business of food while living and working on this incredible 220 acre organic farm.
Students at Empire Farm, Copake, New York
Force of nature, Tessa Edick, food entrepreneur, author and advocate, enthused in a recent call:
"FarmOn's main goal is training the next generation that will feed us by supplying them with skill sets they need to pursue careers in sustainable agriculture. FarmOn! started with economic development in mind, connecting consumer to farm. Our students custom grow produce for prominent NYC chefs. Young people, 21 plus, come live on the farm for a minimum of 12 weeks and take part in a curriculum developed in partnership with SUNY and Cornell."
Students at the FarmOn! Accelerator pictured above.
When I spoke to Tessa Edick, I was blown away by her passion and impressed by the brilliance and inspiration of the FarmOn! Acccelerator program. The students not only carry out the laborious daily duties of farm life, but also participate in the business side of the operation. In addition to learning about soil, how to plant and harvest crops and raise livestock, the students get real like experience in sales, marketing, communications and finance.
Empire Farm, Copake, New York
When I asked Tessa if the students went off farm into NYC to meet the chefs they were growing food for, she exclaimed: "Yes! They have to go into NYC because they do all the things necessary to run business done on a farm, they participate as if it was their own."
What's so cool is students 21 plus are given scholarships to take part in this incredible, immersive learning experience via donations from foundation supporters including John Varvatos and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Empire Farm, Copake, New York
Luckily, Empire Farm is open to the public and USG highly recommends a visit to this magical place. Copake is in northern Columbia County, just south of the Berkshires. It is a perfect region to visit if you want to get away from NYC for the weekend. This is a gorgeous area. The nature literally draws you in, giving one a sense of release from the hubbub of Gotham and the daily grind.
Empire Farm is not only a beautiful landscape to behold, but also offers planting, education workshops, cooking classes, and hiking. It has a Farm Market on Property (seasonal) and it's a great place for a bike stop, having public bathrooms.
Empire also offers CSA shares to residents of the Hudson Valley, Westchester and NYC. So, if you live in any of these areas, we encourage you to visit and consider becoming a CSA member. You'll not only be receiving fresh, chemical-free food, you'll literally be supporting the future of farming.
Above is picture of the gorgeous kitchen at Blue Cashew Kitchen Homestead in Kingston, New York.
When you're headed to Copake to check out Empire Farm, take some time to explore other parts of the beautiful, bountiful Hudson Valley. A must stop is Kingston in Ulster County, especially the historic Uptown district, (the Stockade), of New York State's first capital.
Uptown radiates a sense of history and is having an urban renaissance. The first time I went there I was immediately captivated by the neighborhood's blend of old and new energy. It seemed the perfect combination of ghosts from the past living comfortably with new souls migrating to the area, the makers of the here and now.
When you're in Uptown Kingston, stop by Blue Cashew. Blue Cashew offers cool products for the chefs in all of us and a schedule of great events including book parties and cooking classes. Check them out and say hello to the proprietors Sean and J.T. for us!
Copyright Paul E McGinniss 2018