Aug 1, 2023
A Mom and Pup farm finds a home
After a decade of experience on the teams at well-regarded farms in the Hudson Valley, Kate Farrar took a risk and started Foxtrot Farm & Flowers in Stanfordville New York. Farrar is a master when it comes to growing and arranging colorful blooms but last year she knew she needed help navigating the gray paperwork and red tape of purchasing the land she cultivates.
HVADC provided the Business Technical Assistance (BTA) she needed to secure her future. Now she grows spectacular flowers and herbs for a community of invested friends and neighbors on a farm that is truly hers. She said that freedom allows her to now host farm dinners, “Flower Bar” arranging events, yoga classes and other agriculture and wellness activities.
“HVADC was so helpful,” said Farrar, “It was so straight forward I almost forgot about it! They just took care of everything.”
Through the Incubator Without Walls Program Foxtrot received the funding assistance needed to connect with HVADC consultant, attorney Megan Harris-Pero, an agriculture law expert. Initially, Harris-Pero was able to help navigate Farrar through a lease to own arrangement.
Originally from Brooklyn, Farrar fell for gardening and farming while studying English literature and photography at Dickinson College (a background that helps in her marketing of Foxtrot’s photogenic crops). After school she worked on a farm in British Columbia before moving to the Hudson Valley to work on the crew at Hearty Roots Community Farm in Clermont New York.
For five years she worked her way to crew manager before setting out to start Perianth Farm in Red Hook with a friend. Unfortunately the farm lost its lease after just one year. The problem of land insecurity plagues many young farmers unable to purchase in the expensive Hudson Valley real estate market. But Farrar learned from the positives and the negatives of that experience.
“It was a young iteration of what Foxtrot is now,” She said. “It was so traumatizing to lose all that.”
For the next year or so she worked in wholesale for Sparrowbush Farm and Suarez Brewery, both in Hudson. In the spring of 2020 she got a call from a friend from her time at Hearty Roots about starting a new farm. He’d help with the purchase of the land and she’d run the farm. But after a year it became clear they had different business goals and needed to split amicably. Farrar said purchasing the land outright, even directly from a former business partner and friend, seemed a daunting task.
“I didn’t know how to do it,” she said. “Then I saw (HVADC Business Services Coordinator) Duane Stanton’s post on a farmer list serve. It was just something like ‘we have funding for legal services.’ It was kismet!”
Now that Farrar owns Foxtrot outright she’s filling the summer with events to get folks onto the property. She’s come up with unique events, such as dinners featuring chef Daniel Messiner, to bring more human life to the farm. It’s already working. Her flower CSAs (select from four seasonal options!) are selling out. She’s also doing well enough that she decided to forgo New York City farmers’ markets and sell exclusively at regional markets. Now her highest selling pickup location is the farm itself.
“Foxtrot is a gorgeous farm with innovative and diverse programing,” said HVADC Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson. “We are so happy to have been able to help Kate with the process of finally owning her own land. Now that she owns the farm, she has the personal security to invest in the property and make it everything she dreams it can be.”
To learn more about HVADC’s Incubator Without Walls program, visit https://www.hvadc.org/incubator-without-walls.