The HVADC Cultivator
FFBA Participant Hillary Lindsay of the Green Onion
Hillary Lindsay, owner and operator of The Green Onion, is a participant in HVADC’s first Farm & Food Business Accelerator Program. The Green Onion is an agro-community center situated in the Black Dirt Region of the Hudson Valley, a space where everyone can come together, where producers and consumers can gather and share a common experience. Lindsay got the vision for The Green Onion while living in Italy and seeing the thriving agritourism economy there. She further developed the idea while writing her graduate thesis on creating agro-communities at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Italy. Things fell in to place when the manager of Chester Agricultural Center, an organization that works to conserve farmland using organic management practices, approached Lindsay and asked her to come up with a business plan for a barn on the property. Lindsay then adapted her idea to fit the space and it became The Green Onion in 2016. The Green Onion refers to the Black Dirt outside the barn which was once an onion farm, and to the sustainability and rebirth that Lindsay aims to foster through the space.
The Green Onion holds events that highlight the culture of the Hudson Valley, including local artists, musicians and food. With a recently completed commercial kitchen, Lindsay is hoping to hold a pop up series with guest chefs, farm dinners and brunch during market on Saturdays. In addition to music, art and food, The Green Onion also holds educational events, like a recent workshop with a local environmental educator on how to attract hummingbirds.
The farms that provide the produce for sale at The Green Onion are located on the Chester Ag Center property and the idea is that The Green Onion is the hub of activity for the center, as well as the retail spot for the farmers. Other vendors featured are people Lindsay has met along the way, as well as some of her classmates at FFBA.
The Green Onion is a mission driven organization that is more about creating a community around agriculture where people understand the food system than making money. Lindsay’s goals for The Green Onion are to develop the kitchen, create a café and a pop-up dinner series, featuring guest chefs and cooking classes. They are working on their liquor license and the bar will highlight all the wine, beer, cider and distilled drinks that are created within a small radius of The Green Onion. (Treasury Cider from Fishkill Farms, an FFBA colleague, will be featured). Lindsay is also developing an herb and flower garden, managing all aspects of the business and marketing, all while working another job.
Lindsay has found the FFBA to be indispensable because she did not have a business background and was learning on the go while establishing The Green Onion. FFBA helped to expand her knowledge around small business accounting and management. Lindsay first heard of HVADC from a friend who works promoting farmers’ markets for the USDA. She has found the experience to be “extremely worthwhile and valuable – not just for the classes and the teachers but my classmates – such an amazing group of people and I feel lucky to have this connection with them now”.
She has found that the FFBA experience has helped her to be better-rounded as a business owner with a greater understanding of finance and legal issues. The development of connections and networking events have proved to be invaluable.
HVADC provided Lindsay with assistance and guidance on practical business issues. She found the mentoring sessions, where she was able to sit down and talk with the lawyer and with a business advisor to figure out better game plans and become more profitable and organized, extremely helpful.
The Green Onion will be celebrating their one-year anniversary on July 8th, the same day as the village of Chester celebration and fireworks. Among the things that she has treasured the most this past year has been creating a network of growers, producers and community members.
Lindsay was inspired to get in to this work by Guy Jones of Blooming Hill Farm, who has been farming organically since the 80’s, and where Lindsay worked prior to graduate school. Her Italian grandmother, as well as her mother were instrumental in her love and appreciation of food, especially Italian food. Lindsay can’t wait to start canning and selling her tomato sauce, made from Grandma’s recipe, as well as pickles and relishes. She will also start selling her homemade soups, salads and paninis, while offering a small brunch menu during The Green Onion’s Saturday market.
Lindsay is using The Green Onion to spread the message on the importance of knowing where your food comes from and helping patrons gain an understanding of the food system. She points out that the Green Onion is unique in that it’s beyond farm-to-table, that the food you eat at The Green Onion is sustainable, organic and grown right outside the barn door.
The Green Onion’s Chester location helps Lindsay reach beyond those who are already “converted” with regards to the local food movement. She notes that a lot of new people have discovered The Green Onion while strolling downtown or through an ad in the local paper about an event at the space. But when they spend a little time, they start learning more about seasonality and sustainability, which allows for the education component of The Green Onion to remain a constant, and allows the mission of The Green Onion to come full circle.
Learn more about The Green Onion, visit their website, or better yet, go for a visit! You can find them in Chester at 8 Greycourt Avenue. See, hear and taste for yourself all of the wonderful things they have on offer.
If you, or someone that you know, would like to be a participant in the next FFBA program, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.