FarmOn! is headquartered at historic Empire Farm in Copake, New York.  This 220-acre working farm sits in an agricultural community in Columbia County, a short drive from the borders of both Massachusetts and Connecticut, and at one time served as the personal residence of Henry Astor.  Most of our events and programs, like our annual Hootenanny or Camp FarmOn!, take place here.


Resident workers are housed in one of the property’s two historic farmhouses.  Additional improvements include a working chicken coop, six full-sized greenhouses, a detached gardener’s cottage, and two totally refurbished barns used primarily for special events and to house our farm store.


Currently, there are three distinct fields under cultivation at the farm.  In Home Field, we have planted vegetables and flowers for our CSA program. Veggies are growing right now in the third, which we call our Victory Garden.

On the Farm


RESIDENCY PROGRAM : While some of the young people who operate Empire Farm commute, many choose instead to apply for residency.  Those who do are provided full- or part-time housing on the farm itself.  We think of this almost as an immersion program: a comprehensive “crash course” on the business and practice of sustainable agriculture at every level.  With their living expenses provided for by the Foundation, residents are given the freedom to design and implement their own plans and ideas on the farm.  This environment empowers residents to hone their skills and confidence without the fear of failure.

COMMUNITY AGRICULTURE: At Empire Farm, we cultivate and distribute organic produce through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.  Like almost everything we do at Empire, the program is staffed and managed entirely by young people interested in pursuing a career in ethical agriculture.  Local residents participating in our CSA program are invited to visit the farm and learn exactly where their food comes from.

FARM STORE: Come to Empire anytime between 10:00 and 2:00 on Fridays and Saturdays and pay a visit to our farm store.  You’ll find a variety of items on offer: farm-fresh dairy from our partners in the area and local honey made right here in the Hudson Valley.

Open To The Public

Visit us at Empire Farm!

Hudson Valley in New York State (Columbia County)
Empire Farm, 556 Empire Road, Copake, NY 12516

Hours of Operation

Weekdays: 9am – 4pm or by appointment for tour and tasting!
Weekends: Schedule a visit or tour by calling 518.329.FARM or email us:


Food Education by Experience

We provide opportunities to align with responsible food ways and resilient agriculture to build local economies through food education and farm preservation.

Visit Empire Farm

Get involved in seed + soil in many ways, stroll or hike the 220 acres on our historic farm, or schedule a farm tour today! Re-learn how to eat and FarmOn!

We offer the following activities: planting, education workshops, farm store, cooking classes, hiking, bike recovery stop

Public use Bathroom and Saratoga Water available for sale with a Farm Market on Property (seasonal) and CSA shares available to Hudson Valley, Westchester and NYC!


Become a member of FarmOn! at Empire Farm or BOOK your next retreat, corporate team building or event! Unique event planner to host events, classes, or overnight rentals at our historic farmhouse. Inquire for Location Shoots, Author Book Signings, Events, Weddings and more…



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Astor Family Legacy

Empire Farm is a historic Astor property located on the corner of New York State at the intersection Massachusetts and Connecticut. Our 220-acre farm is home to the FarmOn! Foundation with a legacy fit for the next generation to feed us!

Established circa 1830, Empire Stock Farm is sister property to the famed farm called Astor Courts located in Rhinebeck NY. The old estate formerly known as Ferncliff (once Ferncliff Farm and today called Astor Courts) overlooks the Hudson River that in the 19th century was purchased by William Backhouse Astor Jr who was drawn to the Hudson River Valley area for its beauty as well as its ancestral heritage as unexplored but “the most entrepreneurial” territory. The region was about growth.

“William Astor’s grandfather, John Jacob I, came to America in the 1790s from Waldorf, Germany. America was his land of opportunity: he became a trader in furs and opium and made a fortune in China on both in an established export businesses on both coasts when the western part of the continent was still inhabited mainly by Native Americans, and largely unexplored by all but the most entrepreneurial – that being a sleek word for a hardscrabble and dangerous existence of the new world.
With his great profits, the first Astor became interested in buying Manhattan real estate. It was not called real estate then but instead: land, lots, farms, and acreage. This was not considered an especially enterprising idea because the city of 65,000 in 1805 was centered around what is now the southernmost downtown and the tip of the island of Manhattan. A horse and carriage ride up to what is today known as 59th Street and Fifth Avenue took four hours along a rocky, hilly terrain, and it would be decades before the rails or the automobile. Nevertheless, Astor had made his fortune exporting and understood New York City’s harbor, one of the best in the world, could only grow and grow.
At his death (at age 84) in 1848, Astor was the largest landowner in the city, and one of the world’s richest men, collecting rents all the way up Broadway to what is now Times Square and beyond. On his deathbed when asked if he had any regrets, he allegedly said, “yes, that I didn’t buy more of Manhattan.” His estate proved him the richest man in America – his fortune estimated at more than $100 billion in today’s dollars.
He had two sons and three daughters. The first born son John Jacob II is remembered as “feeble-minded.” He never worked for his father. The second, William Backhouse Astor, was sent back to Germany for his education and then joined his father in what was still the family store (the China trade).
Young Astor served his father as a glorified accountant, if that. However, he did follow his father and increased family real estate holdings. When he married the daughter of a Revolutionary War General and of Robert Livingston of Clermont Manor, he was moving up socially, a matter of great interest to the father. Society in New York in those early days (and they did consider themselves “society”) was made up of ancestors of the Dutch and British. Not the Germans.
The young Wiliam B. Astors had six children – three girls and three boys. The last child, Henry Astor (Grandson of John Jacob I), would be largely disowned, estranged and disinherited by his father for marrying the farmer’s daughter, and lived quietly with her and her Dinehart family in seclusion at West Copake on the proceeds of a trust fund Henry built that is today known a Empire Farm, then an equestrian and estate-farm in Columbia County. He is said to have lived, compared to many of his Astor relatives, happily — and grandly — ever after at the farm until his death in 1918 at the age of 86 at which time Henry Astor also owned sixty three- and four-story dwellings, thirty-eight tenement houses, thirty-three leased parcels of built-on land, three theatres, and seven factory buildings, which sold for $5,159,075 in NYC at the time.
The other two sons – John Jacob III and William B. Jr. — were their father’s principal heirs. (In those days, female children were not regarded as worthy of, or needing as much as, their brothers, just as it often still is in England and elsewhere.

Source: New York Social DiaryYodelout