Glynwood held an open house last Friday, October 10 to introduce the first three participants chosen for its new Hudson Valley Farm Business Incubator program. The three-year intensive was created in collaboration with the Open Space Institute to provide support for agricultural entrepreneurs who already have several years of farming experience but who need help taking their farm-based business plan to the next level.
Applications for the program were evaluated over the summer and three candidates were chosen to start developing their businesses at the Incubator in 2015. Ferdinand’s Farm will be a diversified farming operation producing eggs, honey, culinary herbs and edible flowers. Four Legs Farm is planned as a 150-member meat CSA that will offer pastured lamb and pork meat to members along with educational programming on livestock production and cooking with meat. And the Community Compost Company, who flipped the “farm to table” concept in coining the phrase “table to farm” to describe their operation retrieving organic materials from the waste stream to produce high-quality compost in conjunction with local farms, will use the Incubator site as its main production area and test site while developing partnerships with local farms.
When their businesses have matured to the point of self-sufficiency, Glynwood will assist Incubator participants in securing permanent land in the region on which they can continue to operate and will help them to “brand” their businesses.
The Incubator is located on 330 acres of farmland in the Mohonk Preserve Foothills outside of New Paltz. The program there is “not an apprenticeship,” noted Incubator director Dave Llewellyn. “The core program components are designed to reduce the barriers to success for start-up farm businesses. We provide access to land, housing, shared equipment and infrastructure and we’re helping with access to low interest credit and providing training; some in-house and some through a network of collaborators, which include business coaching and a lot of practical skills training.”
The purpose is to contribute to the growth of sustainable food and farming businesses in the Hudson Valley region while bringing more preserved farmland into production and investing in farm communities across the region.
The three-year program will add three more participants every year, so by year three they’ll be working at capacity with nine farm entrepreneurs working at the site. Year four, the first group completes the program and moves on, and the cycle continues. Participants are chosen based on their chances for success and on how the businesses at the Incubator complement each other in both use of the land and cooperative ventures.
The Incubator is the first venture of its type in the region, modeled after similar endeavors in Massachusetts and Vermont. There is another such program in New York, said Llewellyn, in Ithaca. The participants in the Incubator program have the option of living on-site in shared housing at one of the two houses or off site for a participation fee. Apprentices Leanna Mulvihill and Lily Dougherty-Johnson will both live on the property.