Summary 2015


Through FarmOn! Initiative Milk Money

Outcomes this significant happened with a tiny but powerful team. Five women and six apprentices worked in acres not hours custom growing in an accredited curriculum for celebrated chefs. These celebrity chefs in turn, offered delicious events that engaged sponsors, partners and donors like you who believe and invest in our philanthropic work. This expands our collective consciousness to secure food for tomorrow responsibly and raises our replacements at the family farm.


Resilient agriculture is at the core of our philanthropic values – worthy of a collective consciousness, collaboration and contribution. We are driven to create and fund educational programming. By providing food education and farm preservation through a new lens based in an edible education as an experience, we are a catalyst that impacts change with measurable outcomes and excitement galore.


We are building Empire Farm with tireless energy and commitment to change food systems through epic events and influential partners to lift up local agriculture. Together we created, funded and expanded educational programming for New York State farms, schools and families.

Local food is our future. We can no longer afford to truck food from thousands of miles away – sacrificing nutrition, wasting energy, and undermining local farming economies in the process. Only by reconnecting consumers with the importance of their local farmers can we reverse this dangerous and unsustainable trend.

With the average age of the farmer at 58 and growing, we need to cultivate and prepare our youth to fill this succession gap. “In 2006, John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska told The New York Times that twenty-five years ago there were 350,000 farmers and ranchers under the age of 35, now there are only 70,000. We’re not creating opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers to get into the business.”

And with the New York State Ag economy at $5.7 Billion, 99% family owned and only 25% of the state land used for Ag production– it is time to FarmOn! 350,000 farmers 1990. 70,000 famers 2015.

What are you planning to eat in 2020 with that rate of decline? Who is going to feed you?

The oldest honorable profession—farming—needs to be re-established for our health, for our children and for economic development of our local communities.

Filling the succession gap in agriculture and building pathways for youth as the next generation to feed us is at the heart of our mission.





With the accreditation of SUNY and Cornell College of Ag & Life-sciences (a partnership that is a first of its kind in New York State) on a 220 acre working farm, community center and Ag-Academy), the FarmOn! Foundation is making this opportunity possible for students – offering career bound pathways that are vocational, academic and entrepreneurial for youth ages 17-20. Funds from the community make this work possible as a non-profit organization and public charity.


Yes, the FarmOn! Foundation is teaching youth the business of food on a working farm based in a curriculum using the field as a classroom. We welcome the public to visit historic Empire Farm as students custom-grow for NYC chefs and culinary businesses – there is plenty to share with us locals too! To date the FarmOn! Foundation has created partnerships with professional farmers, educators, influencers, supporters, nutritionists, students, and community leaders invested in the future of local agriculture to rebuild local economies and feed us.


In March 2015, a greenhouse was erected on the property, two wells were installed and twelve acres were cultivated, fenced, tilled, amended, seeded and harvested to bring fresh local organic food to market from an academic setting. The build out and planting of FarmOn! Victory Garden (Farm Matriarch -Alice Waters opened last year) is a field-as-classroom and Ag-Academy, that is being farmed organically.


In the Summer of 2015, the Ag-Academy curriculum was based in a pilot concept whereby six students (nominated by Hudson Valley school educators or local residents) developed entrepreneurial thinking to learn about revenue, how it is budgeted, projected and leveraged, how it is earned, handled, collected, allocated and accounted for over a four-month timeframe. Youth similarly had to construct a chicken coop – budget and project earnings to know what was invested and timing with X yield based on sales.


The impact was astounding – youth were engaged in the project, in addition to adopting 21st century skill sets through applied learning, students learned how to earn and do business with confidence by networking, problem solving, team-building, effectively communicating for result-driven projects with conflict-resolution practices and successfully achieved getting product from the farm to a dedicated market in NYC in a specified timeframe with the abCSA and TasteNY farm shares. In addition, students earned cash scholarships and the excess fresh local food from the field was donated to public schools and families in need to address food insecurity.


We all want to re-build the future of food, keep farmers farming and preserve the tradition of family farming in America. You can do this – just by eating fresh local food from people you can trust. Imagine that…and make it so. YOU make our work possible!

  • HOOT! 5th Annual Farm Fresh Fundraiser hosted 100 family farmers, 25 FFA Students, 500 guests raising over $140K for FarmOn! Foundation/Rainbow Room


  • NYC – 600,000 children and adults visited the BRONX ZOO with FarmOn! Installation: HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? from June to October to plant a carrot, pull a carrot, eat that carrot and experience food from a FarmOn! curated Victory Garden in the Bronx Zoo. Activities for children allowed interaction with seed, soil and planting and learn healthy by experience.


March Sunday Supper


“Sunday Supper” was a delicious success!


Sold out on a snowy winter evening in March 2015 and hosted at Terrapin Restaurant in Rhinebeck, celebrated Hudson Valley Chefs came together to cook with cause and FarmOn! Chef Gianni Scappin from Market St in Rhinebeck / Cucina in Woodstock, Chef Agnes Devereux from Village Tea Room in New Paltz, Chef Ric Orlando from Albany’s New World Bistro Bar, Chef Josh Kroner of Terrapin Restaurant in Rhinebeck hosted by Sean B. Nutley and JT McKay of Blue Cashew.


A four course family style meal was created by chefs featuring local ingredients from family farms – each of these notorious Hudson Valley chefs are featured in the photographs from Author Francesco Mastalia’s book: ORGANIC Farmers and Chefs of the Hudson Valley


Funds and awareness were raised as guests ate, bid, pledged and mingled with the people that make their food to support resilient agriculture. FarmOn! Milk Money program raised $5k to bring Hudson Valley Fresh Milk to Rhinebeck and Red Hook students. Empire Farm Scholarship for Ag-entrepreneurial students was also funded. The community converged and the conversation was rewarding! Stay tuned for Sunday Supper series coming soon!



5th Annual Hootenanny! with Rainbow Room


HOOTENANNY! Farm Fresh Benefit Dinner with Host Rainbow Room and Executive Chef Jonathan Wright

Our 2015 HOOT! 5th Annual Farm Fresh Fundraiser hosted 100 family farmers, 25 FFA Students, 500 guests raising over $140K for FarmOn! Foundation/Rainbow Room

The annual fundraiser was a success thanks to people like you! A heartfelt thank you for your support! Nearly 500 folks raised $137,500 in total from the HOOT! FarmOn! at Empire Farm and nearly $70,000 for FarmOn! Foundation programming. Over 500 people attended and the delicious farm fresh meal from 50+ family farms hosted by Rainbow Room Chef Jonathan Wright was memorable, delicious and rewarding.



FarmOn! Sunday Supper with Host Alice Waters at Empire Farm


This mornings egg, dinner in a historic barn, vegetables and cardoon soup roasting on an open fire, hot Toddies with Hillrock Estate Distillery and Fix Farm apple cider were just the beginning. Add 45 guests, Talbott & Arding cheese course, Mazzone Hospitality catering with Chef Jonathan Wright cooking a feast with Host Alice Waters and Fanny Singer offering their book signing My Pantry, at the height of Autumn on the farm to benefit Edible Schoolyard Project – is a recipe for success! A celebration of food, farming and all of those that work hard in the fields to make a special meal possible, we raised our glasses to toast the Farmer, our starmers – the real celebrities in food! Good times had by all in a meaningful and memorable farm fresh fundraiser from the field!



Empire Farm Harvest Festival


Until the 20th century most farmers celebrated the end of the harvest with a harvest supper, a big meal held to thank those for land stewardship to cultivate, plant, grow and harvest honest food. In some regions the farmers believed that a spirit resided in the last sheaf of grain to be harvested. Even earlier there were ceremonies, superstitions and rituals at the end of harvest – sweeping scythes back and forth to cut grain and farms in a race to not be the last to finish the harvest – shouting when they were, which was likely the precursor to what we know today as Halloween.


Halloween is all about the Harvest. Locals from the Hudson Valley region visited Empire Farm as we welcomed festival goers in costume with the bounty of the season. All things apple was a thrill as the community gathered with family and friends to grab a bite to eat before trick or treat and celebrated the family farm. Featuring farm fresh grill with the Copake Fire Department volunteers, kids activities, local market with regional specialty makers, Hudson Valley Fresh Dairy tasting and all things apple were oh so tasty! Hundreds stopped by the farm between 12p-5pm to indulge.

A “Farm Candy” apple crunch engaged with a pledge to Eat Local New York! The costume parade for kids ages 12 and under was a hit and the antique tractor display and selfie booth were the photo opps of the day! FarmOn!