The Farms of Washington County: Fresh Take Farm

December 01, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Founded in 2015 and located in Granville, NY, Fresh Take Farm is currently run by Skyler Leibig and his partner Jess Duignan. While primarily focused on vegetables, they also have pigs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys that they raise. “Salad greens are our biggest crops,” said Leibig. “Kale, arugula, asian greens, spinach mustard, Swiss chard, etc. Root crops are big for us too - radishes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, carrots, wild picked fiddleheads, ramps (wild leeks) and albino cucumbers.”

While the vegetable farm is relatively new, it has multi-generational roots. “I was born into it,” said Leibig. “My dad, granddad, and great granddad either still farm or were farmers. I didn’t want to go into dairy. My great grandfather ran a multi-purpose farm where he had animals, a dairy, and grew vegetables. That’s more of what I wanted to get back to. I always liked working for dad. In high school I didn’t have a lot of interest in it. Pop culture wasn’t hip on it, it’s a lot of hard work and I’d see the struggle to make it work. So I wanted to try other stuff. I went to ACC for a year and got a job in Lake George at the pizza place for a couple years. I did some odd jobs, construction and stuff. I moved back here to work at the Kilpatrick Farm from 2013-2015.”

The move to Kilpatrick had to do with Leibig’s love of farming. “I just had a yearning for growing things,” said Leibig. “I felt homesick. This farm just drew me back here so I moved home. Then dad said something about Kilpatrick farm being a serious operation that I needed to check out. I liked growing vegetables, and learning about it. Kilpatrick farm was a fun environment, definitely not the 24/7 grind of milking cows, and as an employee I could walk away at the end of the day. Michael Kilpatrick was a good teacher and fun to work for, and I learned a lot. I started doing my own garden and going to the Dorset Farmers’ Market to sell on the side. When Kilpatrick moved to Ohio, I started renting his equipment and started my own operation with David Reeves Cochran on ten acres of leased land in Granville. But we went too big that first year and got burned out. Not enough energy and unfortunately the partnership deteriorated. It’s hard to keep that pace up when it’s your first time running a business. There’s a lot to learn.”

Deciding to regroup and change plans, Leibig brought the operation back to the family farm. “Why lease all of this land when we had this up here,” said Leibig. “My parents let us use the land and some of the buildings. So we installed hoop houses  and turned one of the dairy barns into a wash barn.”

Leibig and Duignan started dating in 2016, but she didn’t join the farming operation until 2019. They have two children together, three and a half year old Elliot, and two year old Stella. “I’m from Wells, VT,” said Duignan. “I did not have a background at all in farming. I never would have guessed I would be farming, but I do love animals; chickens, pigs, ducks. I always wanted ducks. I even wrote an essay in high school on how much I wanted to keep ducks. They’re not really a money maker, we get about $7 dollars a week in eggs. But they’re fun and cute. I like the ducks better than the chickens. The ducks are easy to manage, the chickens go everywhere.”

Freedom of choice is a big reason why Leibig and Duignan work for themselves. “You have the freedom to do what you want,” said Leibig. “There are no issues or question about taking time  out of the day if the kids need something. It’s nice being our own bosses, being in touch with nature, being outdoors, and providing food for ourselves and for everyone else. It’s a good feeling to be able to do that. At the beginning of fall it’s easy to be discombobulated and exhausted. There’s a lot of focus on the shoulders of the year for us, in spring and fall. Winter production is a big thing for us. Summer production is lighter for us than most farms. We ramp up to grow storage crops, and have tunnels for fall and winter greens. The competition decreases that way, since less farms have cold month offerings. By focusing on fall and spring growing, we can take some time off in the summer to do fun things with the kids and recharge. The farmer markets are year round though. It’s a marathon for us, so we’ve chosen to focus more on things that give us joy, that give us an income, and allow us a bit more freedom. What good is it to be the king of the world if you’re a slave to the grind.”

This project is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrants Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council (LARAC).
 

 


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