While walking through the busy financial district of New York City, I stumbled across a Grow NYC farmers’ market. At this market Liberty Farm stood out to me because of their enormous sunflowers.
he super friendly atmosphere created by the workers there is what hit me next. In a city, full of people who are often referred to as closed off or rude, the staff of Liberty Farms was very refreshing. The customers recognized this as well. I overheard a customer say “this place just makes me so happy.”
ark and Beverly Cheffo are the proud owners of Liberty farms.The farm finds its home in the Hudson valley where a thoroughbredbreeding farm has been wonderfully transformed into a fully organic,NOFA (Northeastern Organic Farming Association) certified farm. Included in the 300-acre farm, you will find horse boarding, a training facility, a site for events and weddings and of course fields for growing all sorts of vegetables and flowers.
When I visited Liberty at market they were selling everything from scallions to tomatoes. Although what stood out to me were the unique flowers. At Liberty Farm, they grow all different kinds of flowers including a sunflower with a purple hue to it.
ithout Kyle, an apprentice at the farm, the amazing produce featured at some of New York’s favorite farmers’ markets would not be possible, well at least not from Liberty Farms.
Kyle is from Alabama and he moved to upstate New York to pursue his dream in agriculture. When asked about the more financial side of the business, Kyle said “I’m just the farmer. My job is to grow the best organic produce possible.” And he does just that.
s expected, their biggest competition is found in their same field of expertise, organic farming. Luckily, their bio-dynamic practices make them stand out and separate themselves from other farms.
As Catherine, a staff member, greeted me, her passion for the green market and Liberty Farm seeped through every word and every topic of conversation; she has such a kind spirit and is so welcoming to everyone that walks up to the stand. Catherine lives in Stuyvesant Town in the city, and has lived in New York since 1984, when she came to Columbia University to attend school. She refers to herself as “an avid, avid consumer of everything green market.” So obviously, when a green market came into her neighborhood, she visited religiously.
Farmers took notice of her passion for the green market and started to ask her to help them sell their products at farmers’ markets all over the city. Liberty farms’ decision to hire Catherine has most definitely had a positive affected on their business.
I talked to customer Elizabeth Chung who immigrated with herparents from China to Panama. Following this, she moved to the city to go to school, quickly discovering that she never wanted to leave. She has lived in the city for over 25 years.
She visits Liberty Farm at markets twice a week, at two different locations solely because she enjoys buying her produce from Catherine. When asked why uses Liberty Farms, she said “I used to use multiple farms, but Catherine makes me only want to use Liberty”.
Specifically, Elizabeth likes the fresh eggs, because they are cage free. Of course, Catherine knows this and always has the best eggs ready for her.
Catherine knows almost every customer by name, and if she doesn’t know your name she will quickly learn it. It is not uncommon to see her laughing with customers like they are old friends… it’s probably because they are. Especially at the market near her apartment in Stuyvesant Town where she is really in her element. Because of these qualities and the way that she can connect with people, Catherine works four different markets throughout the city.
So why should you as a New Yorker care about this farm from upstate New York? Because their entire business completely engulfs the idea of New York City, a melting pot. A southern from Alabama grows the produce. A real New Yorker from the heart of the city sells to her own neighborhood. An immigrant from Panama with roots in China is loyal customer. These three very different people, and many like them,all have a passion for organic food and they are all a very important part of why a small farm is surviving in a big city.
By Caroline Johnson