Our featured Hudson Valley Current member for the November issue is Common Hands Farm, an organic farm located in Columbia County. Learn more about their operation in our Q&A below.
1. Please describe the work you do at Common Hands Farm.
Common Hands is built around the principles of true community agriculture. In addition to our community supported agriculture (CSA) model, which many farms in the Hudson Valley offer, we open up that model to many levels of community engagement and agricultural research.
We are specifically interested in how different forms of agriculture can affect a rapidly changing future both socially and ecologically. We offer a CSA model where members can show up at any of our vending locations including five farmers markets throughout the Hudson Valley and Westchester, choose whatever they want, come on their own schedule, and work together to form a sliding scale where those with greater means contribute extra to support those in need.
2. What is your background and how did you start your business?
We call ourselves accidental farmers. Our backgrounds are in the arts and social activism, and through those lenses we saw an increasing need for regenerating the land and our communities through farming. Common Hands Farm began as a loose collective idea in 2010, and took greater and greater form from a community garden, to a community-oriented family farm over more than a decade serving the community.
Since 2010, we have lost our farmland to rapid gentrification and rebuilt our farm five times. We have employed over 100 different aspiring young farmers, or people from the community wanting a direct hands-on experience of farming
transformed our vision and model to become perhaps the largest CSA by membership in our direct local community. Served hundreds if not thousands of customers weekly at our season peak with extremely diverse, fresh and nutrient-dense heirloom produce
In recent years, we have focused on a business model that puts our most local customers first, and our need to export food to other communities to make ends meet has dwindled throughout that time.
3. How do you choose the products, services, and programs you offer? What is special about them to you?
We grow over 150 different varieties of produce from all over the world. Researching seeds and plants constantly, we believe that diverse variety and origin brings people more in touch with the many medicinal properties of each food, and engages diverse communities from around the globe, which now live together in our local communities.
4. Can you share any exciting projects you have coming up?
In 2021, we moved our farm again and finally bought our land! We can finally bring in your permanent permaculture divine to our farm, farming methods, and our long-term approach to land care. Everything must be built from scratch: deer fence around 10 acres, facilities for washing, packing, and storing produce, a high capacity well for irrigation and infrastructure, three greenhouses, new chicken coops, and every other little bit of farm infrastructure. It’s been a busy and expensive year, and we couldn’t do it without the support of our friends and neighbors.
We have also created a value-added division of our business, which is rapidly expanding to offer pickles, ferments, and salad dressings at many local stores and markets
5. How did you get involved with Hudson Valley Current?
Farmer Dan Mcmanus has been involved with, and researching local economies and local currencies for about 15 years. After hearing About the Current, he was quick to sign up and promote its proliferation in Columbia County and the upper Hudson Valley.
6. Why do you use Currents?
Current, similar to the seeds of the food we grow, holds all the potential for fruitful and abundant inter-relationships, which can yield additional opportunities at all levels of our business. With a strictly dollar for dollar economy, our farm cannot reach its truest potential funding research, and the development of programs for the greater good. The Current allows us the opportunity to sponsor a more community-based relationship, and bring more creativity, and non-revenue-based exchange to enliven the soul of our farm.
7. How can people learn more about you and your offerings?
The best way to support our farm is to join our CSA in any of the towns where we currently offer drop offs. One can also order through our website Commonhandscsa.com
Follow us on Facebook or Instagram, and stay tuned for all of the different ways you can be engaged, or find food from our farm.