Their Dream Was a Working Farm (But They Weren’t Farmers)


Claire Ko and Eugene Kwak didn’t want a woodland cabin or beach house as their weekend getaway from Manhattan. They dreamed of living on a working farm.

Never mind that neither had any experience farming. After years of shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket, they had become increasingly curious about where their food came from.

“We experienced this great interest in being able to consume produce from the local Hudson Valley area,” said Ms. Ko, 38, the chief people officer at a cheese company.

To take that interest a step further, Mr. Kwak, 40, an architect and assistant professor at Farmingdale State College on Long Island, began fantasizing: Why not buy some land, give much of it to a young farmer and build a two-family house where they could all live together?

For the two-family house, Mr. Kwak designed a black-stained pine box that looks as though it was chiseled away in places to reveal a deck, windows and doors. It contains two apartments: a 2,000-square-foot main unit with three bedrooms and a 1,000-square-foot unit with two bedrooms and a loft for a farmer tenant. Thomas Lane Construction completed the building in February 2019 for a total cost of about $630,000.

But it wasn’t easy. “When we arrived, it was just a field of weeds,” Mr. Whettam said. Transforming the land into a productive farm required a significant investment of money and labor.

“You’ve got to dig a well, and then you’ve got to get the water from the well to the crops,” he said. “We put in cold storage for our vegetables, greenhouses, fencing. We farm organically and regeneratively, so a lot of investment went into improving the soil and bringing in compost and other soil amendments.”

He added: “We put our entire savings — and borrowings — into starting the farm.”

Following a touch-and-go start last year, 2020 has been more fruitful. “This year has just been worlds apart, in terms of enjoyment level,” Mr. Whettam said.

And they had neighbors on hand to share in their success, after Ms. Ko and Mr. Kwak moved to the farm full-time for five months when the coronavirus began spreading through New York in March.



Sahred From Source link Real Estate

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