Mar 1, 2023
Lineage, Lessons, and Looking to the Future
Owner and founder of Berle Farm, Beatrice Berle, participated in the HVADC Farm and Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA) program in 2018 with an eye for the farm’s future. And while it helped accelerate her business growth, she’s kept a deliberate pace in all she cultivates.
“A batch of cheese takes six months to age,” said Beatrice. “It can be daunting for farmers to put value into a cellar and not know what will come of it during that time. But for me, there’s a kind of alchemy that happens there – that we’re caring for the past, working in the present, and looking to the future. All of farming is like that really, non-linear and ever-changing.”
Based in Hoosick, NY, Berle Farm is the product of Beatrice’s commitment to nutrition, wellness, and cultural awareness. The farm provides customers with fresh dairy products like cheese and yogurt, beef, homegrown vegetables, maple syrup, and even trees. Their offerings are available on-site at the farm store or online for shipping.
“I grew this business very differently,” Beatrice said. “I didn’t start with loans or crops to turn a profit. It started with a mission to provide nutrition for my family, then my neighbors, and over time, into wholesale.”
That process further reflects her perspective of farming as a multigenerational practice. Changes take time and effort without assurance of an outcome. This view is counter-cultural but guides Berle Farm to develop deep and sustaining roots – that Beatrice hopes will continue well into the future.
Her son-in-law, Vi Huu Wood, has helped perfect a cheesemaking process that matches the rhythm of parenthood. As Beatrice describes it, the cycle revolves around bus drop-off and pick-up times. Combined with their deep commitments to nutrition and quality, the result is a product that has garnered national acclaim.
“The best cheeses are reflective of a healthy place from the soil up,” Beatrice said. “We create timeless, quality cheeses without additives or flavoring. I’m especially proud of my son-in-law, who has become a truly exceptional cheesemaker. His talents helped us become Good Food’s 2022 Best Cheese Finalist.”
In addition to cheesemaking, Vi has helped refine the farm’s practices. He’s currently leading a germination test with zinnia seeds, cultivating new ideas while boiling maple, and contributing to its marketing efforts. Working together, they are fortifying the business to reap bounty for future generations.
“Berle Farm is a model for sustainable growth,” said Mary Ann Johnson, Deputy Director of HVADC. “When Beatrice joined the Farm and Food Funding Accelerator program, she was already creating high-quality and nutritional foods. Throughout the process, she thoughtfully integrated various aspects of what was presented. They have maintained their slow-food approach, while efficiently scaling their business. It has been rewarding to see the farm not only survive the COVID-19 pandemic but thrive in new and innovative ways.”
“My time in the Accelerator was truly meaningful,” Beatrice said. “Just by stepping off the farm, I was encouraged to zoom out from day-to-day demands and think about the systems that will drive us forward. It helped me become versed in the business side of things, to build something that will endure and sustain my family. I’m proud to partner with up-and-coming food businesses, to collaborate and share what I learned, and in turn to recommend people pursue the Accelerator themselves!”
To learn more about the Business Technical Assistance programs such as the FFFA that HVADC offers, please visit https://www.hvadc.org/business-technical-assistance.