The HVADC Cultivator
HVADC Client: Goshen Green Farm
Goshen Green Farm grows herbs and little leaves in Orange County but owner Susan Shapiro has big plans to expand her operation into a line of packaged teas and other value added products. To help her along the way Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation provided the services of HVADC local business consultant Brian Zweig, through the Incubator Without Walls program. With his technical assistance, Shapiro put forth a stellar application and, in December, she was awarded a USDA Value Added Producer Grant of nearly $50,000.
Originally from Rockland County, Shapiro spent her early life traveling the country and the world as an environmentally focused attorney as well as a multifaceted artist, filmmaker and painter. In 2001 she moved back to the Hudson Valley to help care for her parents and joined the team of lawyers who fought to close the Indian Point Energy Center’s nuclear power plant.
She soon found a beautiful farm property in Goshen that she says hadn’t been actively farmed in 100 years and began the long and laborious task of renovating the old cottage house and copper roof barn, into a home and what has become Goshen Green farm.
Goshen Green is permaculture based no-till farm. She says their practices far exceed the organic certification requirements, employing biodynamic and regenerative practices. The primary market for the farm’s herbs is through its CSA as well as sales to health food stores and restaurants. They also recently opened an onsite farm store where they sell their fresh, dried and prepared products. The farm offers a line of restorative and respiratory focused teas, salves, garlic scape preserve, and a very popular treat made from hot peppers and sugar called Cowboy Candy.
Shapiro’s daughter also hosts the “It’s a Dinner” supper club at the farm. While they have been heavily modified to meet COVID restrictions, the events have been a great way to share the farm’s mission and bounty with the community. It’s a lovely program they hope to safely grow this coming summer. Shapiro says she enjoys having the farm open to the public, who can also take advantage of the walking trails throughout the bucolic property.
“We saw growth with our CSA and with people looking for something to do,” said Shapiro. “That really increased the visibility of what we were offering at our farm store and our farm to table outdoor dinners.”
The quick success of the value-added line was clear evidence the farm was at an inflection point for growth. She connected with HVADC and Zweig to help apply for a grant to help with processing, marketing, market research and to improve and grow the farm’s online presence.
“She wrote the application and I provided guidance up front about what’s appropriate to include and how to position the application for the highest success,” said Zweig. “There is also a benefit if you can show that you are able to match the amount of grant funding provided with money from other sources, such as funds from the busines owner. This allows the application to receive a higher score when it’s evaluated.”
Shapiro was able to do just that, further strengthening her request. She also right sized her ask to a figure that was reasonable to the USDA while still suiting her most pressing needs and goals.
As an environmental lawyer by trade, Shapiro had the acumen to write a high level document but she said the technical budget specifics, which are vital to making a grant application stand out, were new to her.
“Susan was always very appreciative of the help we gave but she benefited from writing the application herself,” Zweig said. “You don’t need to be an expert to write one of these applications, but there is a benefit to having experience. There is a learning curve to understanding how to position yourself. She did a lot of the nuts and bolts, we just worked with her on the wording and provided a letter of support which is also beneficial.”
While Zweig was characteristically modest, Shapiro was vociferous that he was instrumental in procuring the USDA funding.
“Brian was fabulous,” Shapiro said. “I don’t think I could have gotten the grant without him. It was complicated and there was a lot of stuff I just knew nothing about.”
Goshen Green waits for spring with growing ambitions. With the grant in hand and the lessons learned during the application process, Shapiro’s little greens have big potential.
To learn more about the Incubator Without Walls program, visit https://www.hvadc.org/iww