Benjamin Roberts

Farming Status and Plans

Farming status:

Full time

Description of farming status, plans, and practices:

Grass + Grit Farm is a small-scale livestock farm currently in it's third year of production. We participate in the Hudson Valley Farm Incubator program, which provides us with low-cost access to land, equipment, and business and financial planning support to help us grow our business. After three years on this land in New Paltz, we will need to transition to new land. 

Grass + Grit Farm is a pasture based livestock operation. We rotationally graze all of our animals to ensure a quality product as well as healthy pasture. We focus on animal welfare, allowing our animals to express their natural instincts while under our care. Our farm is one of diversity, and we believe this offers a unique selection of products to our customer while also allowing us to manage our land sustainably.

Our main focus is our CSA. We offer a unique share that provides a selection of lamb, goat, pork, chicken, duck, and eggs. We plan to expand our offerings into beef, rabbit, and turkeys in the near future. We also attend the Beacon farmers market and sell whole/half animals direct to customers.

In a very short time, we have established a presence in Beacon, Wappingers Falls, and New Paltz. We hope our next land tenure is more permanent so that we can begin inviting our members to the farm and expanding our CSA membership. We hope to partner with other local farms to offer a full diet to our community, including vegetables, fruit, dairy, and bread.

Description of marketing method:

Grass + Grit Farm participates in one farmers market, but our focus is on our CSA membership. We also sell whole/half animals direct to consumers. Our participation in farmer's markets and other events helps us get the word out about our CSA share. We maintain a presence on social media, hand out postcards, and participate in events that drive traffic to our website. We have a growing email list, and we make regular announcements regarding CSA sign-ups.

At our next property, we would like to focus on on-site sales including a small farm store and on-site CSA pick-up.

Does this farmer have a business plan?

Yes

Farm Characteristics

Preferred location:

Southeast, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Ulster

Desired acreage:

21-50, 51-100, >100

Infrastructure required:

Onsite housing, Barns or other facilities for storage of equipment, livestock, and crops, Water access, Electrical Access

Description of buildings required:

Our immediate building needs include cooler space for eggs/fresh poultry, indoor space for brooding chicks (with electrical and water access), and frost-free water for overwintering our laying flock. We also need space and electrical capacity to run 2 large chest freezers, 2 upright freezers, and 2 small chest freezers. We do not currently own a tractor, but will eventually need space to store larger equipment. Our biggest piece of equipment right now is an ATV.

Future needs will include winter housing for sheep and goats. In the long term, we are interested in pursuing a commercial kitchen, small scale poultry processing facility, and walk-in freezer storage.

Description of water access required:

At minimum, we require water access in (or the ability to get water out to) the majority of grazeable fields. Buried irrigation lines are highly desired but not required. We at least one source of frost-free water for overwintering animals.

Crops and Livestock

Primary Livestock:

Cattle - Beef, Goats/Sheep, Pigs, Poultry, Other livestock

Description of livestock/crops:

Grass + Grit Farm currently raises lambs, goats, pigs, beef cattle, chickens for eggs and meat, and ducks for both eggs and meat. All our animals are rotionally grazed to maximize pasture efficiency, diversity and quality. Our lambs, goats, and cattle are 100% grass fed, and our pigs and poultry are pasture-raised and fed local non-GMO grain. 

We plan to expand our offerings over the next couple of seasons to include pasture raised rabbit and pastured turkeys. We have no immediate plans to add vegetable or fruit production, but it is a possibility for the future. We would prefer to partner with other local farms to offer a near full diet CSA to our community.

Farmland Tenure

Tenure options desired:

Farm Management, For Lease, Partnership, For Sale, Other Tenure Agreement

Description of tenure options desired:

We would prefer a long term lease, ideally with the option for future ownership. Open to different arrangements including conservation easements.

Additional Information

Will this farmer's operation qualify an eligible landowner for an Agricultural Assessment?

Yes

Experience & education:

Formal agricultural education, Farm owner, Farm management, Farm employee, Farm internship/apprenticeship

Experience description:

Grass + Grit Farm is run by Ben Roberts and Maddie Morley. We met while working with livestock at Glynwood, a non profit organization that supports and trains beginning farmers. Collectively, we have over 10 years of farming experience in both vegetable and livestock farming operations.

Ben has a degree in Architecture, but he quickly moved on to the culinary world, attending the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. He's worked at that same culinary school, restaurants, and butcher shops before making the jump to farming. Ben worked at Hatchet Cove Farm in 2013 before apprenticing at Glynwood. After his apprenticeship, he became the Grazing Manager at a local goat dairy before starting Grass + Grit.

Maddie has a degree in Environmental Science and Microeconomics. She started farming as an apprentice at the UC Santa Cruz CASFS program in 2011. She stayed as an Assistant Manager before moving to the Hudson Valley to apprentice at Glynwood where she also stayed for a second year as the Livestock Assistant. Maddie also spent a season at Old Ford Farm, a diversified livestock and veggie operation, before starting Grass + Grit Farm.