The HVADC Cultivator
Incubator Without Walls Client Spotlight - Sparrowbush Farm
We in the Hudson Valley are very fortunate. Not only do we have an abundance of natural resources, but also a wealth of young, passionate and energetic individuals who have moved to the area to take up the age-old tradition of agriculture. Many of these people are first-time farmers, as well as first-time business owners. HVADC’s Incubator Without Walls (IWW) program provides the business support and knowledge needed to get through those first few years of establishing a farm business. Ashley Loehr of Sparrowbush Farm took part in the IWW program in 2014.
Ashley began farming as a teenager while growing up in New Hampshire’s Merrimack County. After high school she farmed with friends in Germantown where they ran a small summer CSA, and then she worked at Hearty Roots Farm, also in Germantown. Ashley started Sparrowbush Farm on her own in 2011, on 98 acres of leased land in Livingston, NY. 2012 was her first growing season.
Ashley uses sustainable farming practices to produce vegetables, grains, eggs, chicken and pork. One of the factors that sets Sparrowbush apart from other farms in the area is their focus on fall and winter vegetables, so that fresh produce is available year round. They have a very popular Winter CSA, which includes not only vegetables, but meat, dairy, eggs, bread and grains from other nearby farms. They also participate in the local Hudson Farmers’ market and provide produce to the area’s restaurants.
In 2014, HVADC provided Sparrowbush Farm with business planning and support services through the Incubator Without Walls to evaluate a lease-to-own opportunity for the farm. By working with HVADC, Ashley was able to more completely understand what kind of economic strain Sparrowbush could bear, exactly what her overhead was, and how much financial growth she could count on. In the end, she decided against the lease-to-own option, as completing her business plan through the IWW allowed her to see that the costs outweighed the benefits. The year following the completion of her business plan was a much better year financially than any previous year.
With individualized ongoing support HVADC helped me get my business plan fine-tuned and personalized. This brought my business from being just a document to a useful road map and enabled me to push through the start-up years into an enduring and sustainable farm business. HVADC’s help in writing a business plan made the business side of farming approachable & allowed me to make a plan that I can stick to. HVADC effectively lightened the load on the planning end, which gives me more time for my favorite part: Farming! – Ashley Loehr, Sparrowbush Farm
Supporting passionate and dedicated farmers like Ashley and helping them reach their goals is what we do here at HVADC. Contact us and see how we can creatively work together to improve your business. HVADC strives to enhance the bottom line of farm businesses and strengthen the agricultural industry as a whole.