Time on the farm, going back to the roots
Reinvigorating farming traditions sustainably
By Emily Ball | Manor Ink
Sullivan County, NY – There are multiple small, family-run farms in Sullivan County. Two local residents are rekindling family traditions in and around Livingston Manor. Root ‘N Roost Farm is focused on creating a homestead farm and Somewhere In Time Farm is intent on produce production to serve local markets. Both farms use “permaculture” principles, extend the growing season with greenhouses, and manage their plants and produce at a standard they assert is much higher than that required for organic certification. Both consider “finding time” to be the biggest challenge they face.
Homestead and farm
Root ‘N Roost Farm in White Sulphur Springs is owned by Cheyenne and Sean Zigmund. Cheyenne grew up in New Zealand, but came to Sullivan County to learn about sustainable farming at Apple Pond Farm in Callicoon Center. When Cheyenne and Sean met, he was envisioning turning his mother’s property into a homestead and farm. She was considering returning to New Zealand. Their story together is Root ‘N Roost Farm.
Started in 2010, the farm is on 2.5 acres with two greenhouses, two hoop-houses and multiple small gardens, plus bees. They lease additional contiguous land as well. Originally, they raised pigs, chickens, ducks and turkeys as well as plants, with rooting pigs and roosting hens inspiring the farm’s name. They gave up the animals once they needed more time to raise children of their own.
The Zigmunds’ primary product now is plants, including perennials and herbs, but they also make and sell jams, lip balms and skin salves. “We’re small-scale everything,” says Cheyenne. “We sell bountiful bags, which are pre-ordered, and also sell at the Liberty Farmer’s Market, open Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m.” Their farm stand is also open in front of their property.
Sean runs two other businesses to help provide for the family. Cheyenne focuses on the farm and raising their two young children (along with four beautiful farm cats). “Our biggest challenges are figuring out what sustainability means and striking a balance between family, educating people who come to work with us, and getting work done,” Cheyenne said. “In five years we want to ramp up our production. In the meantime, we can add value to what we produce ... making products that visitors to the area can easily transport, like jam and herbal tea, because no one has refrigerators in their car!”
‘Premaculture’ in action
Somewhere In Time Farm, a three-acre farm in Parksville, takes Justin Sutherland back to his roots. Parts of the farm use permaculture principles, using the natural slope of the hillside to promote irrigation.
“I started farming seven years ago as a volunteer and then as a paid staff for The Center of Discovery. I worked there for 3 years,” he said. Justin studied music, but soon discovered that wasn’t going to provide for a future family. He went to work on a for-profit farm for a year, until he started Somewhere In Time Farm.
The land that he developed to become the farm was in his family’s possession for years. Once he learned he had a passion for growing food, he began converting his grandfather’s potato field into a farm. He now sells produce to local restaurants, the Catskill Food Hub and occasionally delivers to New York City. He also runs his own farm stand on Main Street in Livingston Manor, open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“My biggest challenge is distributing it all. I hate wasting vegetables, but it’s hard not to overproduce for the county,” Justin said. “The farm is small in acres, but big in vegetable produce.” The farm’s core values are “growing good, clean, healthy, flavorful products.”
“I want everyone to eat this food and be healthier eating it. I learned that farmers hold a huge responsibility in feeding people something that is honest,” Justin said. “I want good flavor grown the right way.”
Somewhere In Time Farm is on top of a beautiful mountain, which is why Justin feels it is so unique. “Farming with an incredible view, and never flooding,” he said with a laugh. He explained what his goals are for the next five years. “I want to expand in the county and share more outside of the county.”
The farming season usually lasts nine -and-a-half months for the farm. Since Justin makes a living off of his farm, in the winter months the farm makes money by making and selling potato chips.
Although each farm is different in its own way, both Root ’N Root and Somewhere In Time emphasize that having support from others is an essential factor.
“Farming is impossible without support from family and friends,” said Justin. “It’s not about the farmer. It’s about everyone surrounding the farmer. And the community around that farm.”