Our Farm Sponsor Spotlight is Shared Roots Farm in McGraw, NY. Tom Lewis, FaHN VISTA, spoke with Stephanie Roberts, a co-owner of the farm along with Bret Morris, to learn about the background of the farm and her thoughts on farming.
On the farm’s background:
Stephanie and Bret have been farming in the greater Binghamton area since 2010, but According to Stephanie, “Shared Roots Farm as Shared Roots Farm just finished its second full season”. However, that isn’t the full extent of their farming experience. “We had our first small market, and started growing for market in 2008. We started off really small with a half acre and have built up to where we are at currently, about twelve acres.” During that time from when they began farming they’ve gone from running a farm on land that they were leasing to buying their own land and farming at their current location in McGraw, NY.
Presently, they are raising diversified vegetables on their farm. “We grow about everything you can grow in New York State aside from sweet corn because of the labor and space demands”.
What she enjoys most about farming:
“There are so many aspects of it, I really enjoy the interactions with our customers, our CSA members and the community.” Along with the social connections that Stephanie gets to enjoy from owning a farm she also appreciates the planting and growing aspect of farming. “It is really fun to harvest from seed. Right now it’s winter and our fields are covered in snow. It’s always amazing to think as you are walking around the snow-covered fields how much food and nourishment comes from what seems like barren land.”
The biggest challenges of farming:
When discussing the biggest challenges that come along with farming, Stephanie felt that the small business aspect of owning a farm was one of the most difficult pieces. She also described how, “seasonal shifts are always difficult” and said that, “every year has it’s own unique challenges.”
On what is needed to support the local food system:
“I think we need a bigger customer base. There are some great groups out there like you guys (FaHN), and I really like working with VINES and their FarmShare program, to help diversify the people who are getting our produce. I think we have a decent supply in the greater Binghamton Area, we just need to have enough demand to support that supply.”
Her advice for beginning farmers:
“I think it’s important to know from the offset that it is a small business. I think a lot of farms get into it because they really like growing; they really like the food and the market interactions. Thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur and small business owner comes secondary to many people”. Stephanie also stressed how important it is to go into farming with a business plan.
On Being a Food & Health Network Farm Sponsor:
“We really enjoy supporting different groups that help us accomplish one of our core-founding missions: To have our food be accessible to everyone that wants it. Working with the Food & Health Network is really great because it helps us reach more people and support the local food system in general.”
Where you can find Shared Roots Farm products:
Shared Roots Farm is at the Broome Regional Farmer’s Market every Saturday that they are open. Additionally, they have a CSA that they drop off on Thursday’s or at the Farmer’s Market, and they also sell at Old Barn Hollow in Binghamton.