Rahul found farming on a search for purpose, and a month into his first farm job he knew that he had found his calling. He dreamed of owning his own farm from early on, and edged closer and closer to that dream with each step. He opened Snapfinger Farm in Stockbridge, GA in 2016, converting a 14-acre horse farm to a thriving produce business. He now sells at two farmers markets, to Atlanta area restaurants, through a farmer-owned cooperative (Middle Georgia Growers Coop), and has a growing wholesale business.
David Bohlen, owner of Bohlen Family Farms, has developed a reputation among high-end chefs in St. Louis and beyond as the go-to grower for specialty crops from around the world. He works closely with leading plant breeders, seed collectors, and chefs to develop and select varieties adapted to his region. David is also a forager and a father, and works alongside chefs in the kitchen for his private events. He is a first-generation farmer who has learned from experience, starting his farm on a vacant lot across from his previous home in Ferguson, MO in 2012. While his farm has expanded, now situated on a 240 acre property in Florissant, MO, Bohlen still harvests everything by hand.
Rebecca is the owner and farmer at Seeds Farm in Northfield, MN, where she farms 15 acres of Certified Organic diversified vegetables. A passion for environmental issues drew her to farming. Her business started as a five-member CSA and farmers market stand ten years ago, and since has evolved exclusively to wholesale. She has a long history as a food entrepreneur, having launched a bread baking business out of her parents’ kitchen in high school and a maple syrup enterprise in college. She developed a sustainable farming curriculum and teaches a spring semester course at her alma mater, St. Olaf College, and advises their student farm. She is active in Land Stewardship Project, the Sustainable Farming Association, Minnesota Farmers Union, and Cannon Valley Grown, and she has a Masters degree in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College.
From the moment she worked on her first organic farm at age 19 Krishana knew it was her calling, and farming has never lost its luster for her even on the most challenging days. She initially grew vegetables, specializing in salad greens for more than ten years. While in mourning after her mother’s passing, Krishana planted a field of flowers and stumbled upon a new business she hadn’t planned, growing, selling and designing flowers for events and weddings. Applying and winning a grant from her town of Chilmark, MA she was able to secure a 75-year lease on a 13-acre farm with a beautiful 1756 farmhouse so she could grow her business as she had always dreamed she would: Tea Lane Farm. She strives to make this award a model, and to inspire the town to conserve land for agriculture and create stable opportunities for farmers.
In December 2018, Krishana and a small group of friends joined forces to save a historic 6+ acre property, Beetlebung Farm, from development. As the new stewards of Beetlebung Farm with Krishana assuming the role of farm director, their focus will be on developing regenerative systems to support farming, food, craft and community.
Vera co-owns Ten Mothers Farm in Cedar Grove, North Carolina. Ten Mothers grows year-round, no-till vegetables for 124 CSA shares and restaurants on just under one acre. While Vera didn’t grow up farming, she was raised by a farmer’s daughter and dreamt of a life closer to nature. In college she fell in love with cooking, and decided farming was the way she wanted to make an impact in the world. She landed a job at The Edible Schoolyard, where alongside her students, she learned how to grow and cook the best food she’d ever eaten. After five years, Vera and her husband Gordon worked up the courage to leave their city jobs to learn to farm. They started their own farm on leased land in 2015. To pay the bills while they built their business, Vera worked at an incubator farm for refugees and taught cooking to children and adults. Helping other farmers grow their businesses has been instrumental in her journey and she hopes to weave education and cooking into the future of their farm. Last year, Ten Mothers Farm moved onto permanent land and Vera still can’t believe they get to grow in this soil for the rest of their lives.
Michael Farrell first learned about the wonders of maple syrup during a field trip while obtaining his masters in forestry from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. He started tapping trees on his childhood property and soon after went on to serve as the Director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest, a maple syrup research and educational center in Lake Placid, NY for 13 years. Michael focused his efforts on the sustainable development of the maple syrup industry, assisted thousands of sugarmakers with their own operations, and conducted research and education on the potential for tapping other species beyond maple. His dissertation at Cornell explored the growth potential of the maple industry, and in 2013 he authored The Sugarmakers Companion: An integrated guide to producing syrup from maple, birch, and walnut trees. In 2017, Michael turned over a new leaf and left Cornell to focus entirely on the development of The Forest Farmers and New Leaf Tree Syrups, the world’s most diverse array of organic syrups produced from different tree species. He is passionate about making the most of our forest resources and is fully active in all aspects of The Forest Farmers’ mission. He lives with his wife Andrea and their three growing children in Lake Placid, NY.
Emma launched Moon Valley Farm in Cockeysville, MD nine years ago, increasing the operation from a quarter acre on one leased site to growing nearly 15 acres across six bartered yards in her community, to finally purchasing a 25-acre farm of her own where she grows certified organic herbs and vegetables for a 250 person, 8 month-long CSA program. She also grows year-round for over 50 of the best restaurants in Baltimore and DC. She is deeply passionate about the range of work farmers need to engage in to build a successful business, from mapping out marketing campaigns to mechanics and tractor repair, and aims to see local produce become the norm for households and restaurants alike.
Sarahlee moved home to her family farm after a decade of working as an international river guide. She started with two acres and the most diverse array of seeds she could afford. Over the past ten seasons she has transformed her family’s hay farm into a year-round, organic, full-diet farm. Today, she and her husband Ashanti cultivate a rotation of diverse vegetables, grains, and cover crops on 27 acres with the help of eight apprentices from the Rogue Farm Corps. Over the years they have added heritage cattle, pigs, and poultry to their operation and manage over 10,000 acres of pasture to raise their animals. Three years ago they built a commercial kitchen, restaurant, and farm store on the farm where they preserve food, provide a full diet to 100 families year-round, and host farm-to-table events. This year they hired an award-winning chef who adds the finishing touches of magic to the food they bring to the table. As a team, their dream is to create a culinary destination.
Tarun (Runi) Marya
Runi is the founder and farmer at Luna Vez Farm, a 2.5-acre diversified organic farm located in Los Altos Hills, California. Luna Vez Farm grew out of a longtime dream to provide healthy food to people while honoring and building the soil it is grown in. As a child, Runi had the privilege of eating homemade meals made by his dad, BK Marya, who learned to cook from his grandmother in a small village in Punjab. These experiences instilled in him a love and appreciation of good food and family. When in college studying Environmental Science, Runi cooked food at pop-up restaurants, and later was a pastry chef at a Michelin Star restaurant that supported local agriculture. He quickly realized that the magic was in the quality of the food and the health of the soil. He apprenticed on a seed farm in Sonoma County and started a small organic seed saving business called Bay Area Seeds. Runi has managed farms in San Gregorio, CA, Maui, HI, and Sonoma, CA. Today, Luna Vez Farm produces specialty crops for Maum, a Michelin Star restaurant in neighboring Palo Alto, Ca, hosts a CSA, and produces vegetables, fruits, herbs, poultry, eggs and floral arrangements for small accounts and events throughout the Bay Area. At Luna Vez Farm this work is done with an investment in respecting the land, the food, the workers, and our community.
Pat is the founder of Pat’s Pastured, raising grass-fed and pastured chickens (broiler and layer), turkeys, ducks, pigs and cattle on more than 150 acres in East Greenwich, RI. Pat’s interest in farming was sparked when he ran a summer jobs program centered around an urban vegetable garden and he saw how food and community could create powerful change. He spent the next eight years working in urban agriculture through the Southside Community Land Trust in Providence, RI. He developed programs to bring gardening to classrooms, grow food at an organic urban farm, and redevelop vacant lots into community gardens. This further inspired him to go to graduate school for a Masters in Community Economic Development at Southern New Hampshire University. For his thesis he helped to form the Urban Edge Farm Business Incubator to support the next generation of farmers. He then joined Casey Farm, a large nonprofit organic vegetable farm, as farm manager, before opening Pat’s Pasture in 2008.
Jayne Merner Senecal
Jayne owns and operates Earth Care Farm, which was started by her father, Michael Merner, in 1977. With the help of 3 generations of Merners and a small dedicated staff the farm raises produce, cattle and is most well-known for its large scale, high quality Merner’s Gold Compost. As the first and largest composter in Rhode Island, the farm transforms many hundreds of tons of materials per year into rich compost for gardens across New England. Additionally, Jayne has owned and managed a fine gardening service, Golden Root Gardening, since 1999. Jayne serves on the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, the Charlestown Agricultural Preservation Commission and has received numerous awards including the RI Nursery and Landscape Association (RINLA) Professional of the Year 2018, 1st place for RINLA Sustainable Landscape Design, 2019 Providence Business News 40 under 40, and the National Udall Scholar “For leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to the environment.” Jayne enjoys sharing her deep love of nature with the community through gardening and cooking classes. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and dance parties with her husband, son and 2 pet goats.
Angie is a first-generation farmer at South Wind Produce in Rougemont, NC, where she and her husband grow diversified vegetables and small grains on 10 acres. Her interest in farming developed out of a lifelong love for cooking and eating. She started her career in the banking industry but decided to become a farmer as the 2008 financial crisis was taking hold and she began to reckon with the bigger systems at play in daily life. She worked at Next Step Produce in Maryland before establishing her own business. South Wind Produce sells at Farmers Markets and works closely with over 30 chefs and restaurants in the Durham area. As part of their effort to expand product diversity in their region she is currently testing varieties and methods of growing buckwheat for soba noodle flour. Angie’s mission is to create a farm that is productive, profitable, pleasant to be on, nourishing, and forward-thinking, and she hopes to become more of a leader and a representative for small farms.
Jacy is the co-founder of and farmer at Gallatin Valley Botanical at Rocky Creek Farm in Bozeman, MT. She first leased a two-acre parcel in 2002 to grow enough vegetables to market to a few chefs and farmers markets. She now owns a 57-acre property, where she farms vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers, incorporating mobile flocks of sheep, chickens and pigs, and offers a place for her community to visit, u-pick berries and apples, and have their apples custom pressed. She offers her items year-round to local chefs and CSA members. To further round out a four season farm, she founded a Winter Farmers Market for the community in collaboration with Women of the Dirt, an organization of local women farmers and ranchers. She hopes to channel her background in farming and relationships with chefs to turn this amazing place into an educational farm and learning center while continuing to provide healthy produce, quality meats, and beautiful flowers to her community.
Beth Schiller has been growing her business, Dandelion Spring Farm, in Midcoast Maine since 2002. She currently raises 7 acres of certified organic vegetables and herbs on 80 acres of land in Bowdoinham, ME. With an even 50/50 split between products sold at farmers’ markets and direct sales to restaurants, Beth is continually trying to bring fresh eyes to sustainable entrepreneurship. About to start her third season on newly purchased property, Beth is eager to see what form her business will take during this next phase of growth with the opportunity to shift from annual to perennial crop production. She is inspired by her work as president of the board of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), and the increase in wider conversations about farming and climate resilience. She is deeply interested in the urban-rural interface and the ability to use food as a bridge for community development.
Ray is the owner/operator of Next Barn Over (NBO) Farm in Hadley, MA. NBO is a 50-acre, certified organic, mixed vegetable farm serving a 600 member CSA, farmers market, and many local grocers, distributors, and restaurants. Ray started Next Barn Over (NBO) Farm on a shoestring in 2010, renting land, tractors, and hiring friends. Over the last ten years, Ray and their extraordinary ten-person team have more than tripled their production; purchased land, infrastructure, and equipment; improved systems; and cultivated vibrant community partnerships. Prior to farming, Ray devoted themself to activism: they co-founded a political theater troupe and worked on many grassroots community justice projects in Western Massachusetts. Food justice is at the heart of Ray’s farming practices, which has guided NBO to donate several thousands of pounds of produce to local food pantries annually, offer subsidized CSA shares, and in partnership with Gardening the Community in Springfield, MA, deliver fresh produce weekly to a neighborhood impacted by food apartheid. Ray lives at the confluence of the Connecticut and Fort Rivers with their sweet beasts and loving partner.
Meet the inaugural cohort
In December 2018, Stone Barns Center hosted 18 farmers for the first Entrepreneurship Intensive.