FarmOn! Hootenanny 2014


By #abcsa Farm Share Program

Pulling Out the Big Guns



In its fourth year, our humble Hootenanny landed its biggest guest yet.


We were beyond honored to be joined by the legendary chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.  The French master prepared a locavore menu for the (relatively) intimate affair — a sold-out room of over 500 guests.


As always, we followed up the next day with a festival celebrating America’s family farmers.  This one was special, too.


This time, we moved the event down the road to our brand new headquarters at historic Empire Farm.  The farm — once the personal home of Henry Astor (yes, those Astors) — sits on 220 breathtaking acres, right in the heart of historic Copake.  We’ve been lucky enough to call Empire home ever since.


2,300 guests joined us for the housewarming.  Among them was Alice Waters, who presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new Victory Garden [link].  Ms. Waters is one of the most significant figures in the history of American food, and her ideals were a direct inspiration for the formation of FarmOn!  Also, note the word choice: Ms. Waters was one of the first chefs to look beyond just cuisine.  Rather, the approach that she developed over the years at Chez Panisse constituted an entire ethos — local, sustainable, fresh food sourced thoughtfully and prepared with intention.  We’re extremely privileged to have her serve on our board to this day.


Like in previous years, dozens of local farms and vendors set up stalls for guests’ perusal.  Some bigger names were in attendance as well: brands like Cabot, Chobani, and Whole Foods (among others) dropped by to wish us luck.


We imagine that third name made some ears perk up among the crowd; the grocery giant was at the time in the process of opening a new store in Albany.  Getting into a store like that could be a game-changer for many of our local farms.  We wanted to make sure they got the opportunity.



We’re proud of what we achieved.  Funds raised (from all events) in 2014 made the following possible:


  • EMPIRE FARM opened publicly in 2014 with FarmOn! Foundation fundraising.


  • SUNY Chancellor Zimpher and Cornell CALS (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) formally partnered with FarmOn! Empire Farm for NYS applied learning and credited internship .


  • Launched the FarmOn! AG-ACADEMYat Empire Farm. Inaugural class of six students spent a summer living and working on the farm, learning the business and practice of ethical agriculture while growing vegetables for NYC chefs.


  • FarmOn! SLAM DUNK YOUR VEGGIES™ – Former NBA Boston Celtic Eric Williams launched a pilot program inspiring 4700 kids to eat healthy by growing their own food.


  • MILK MONEY SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM funded for a third year, expanded from three to eight local districts, reaching over 25,000 kids.


  • Camp FarmOn! fully-funded for a fourth year.


  • FED 4700 underprivileged children for farm to school month who visited 3 farms each in October to learn about dairy, apples and vegetables with a cooking lesson from CIA grad students.