By Kristie Snyder, GreenStar Staff
Stick and Stone Farm bursts with activity — kids and dogs romp, CSA members pick flowers and berries, and farmworkers are busy in the barn and fields. Owners Lucy Garrison-Clauson and Chaw Chang grow the standard vegetable staples, but the couple also seeks to fill a niche growing products or varieties that other farms don’t.
The certified-organic farm was founded in 1995 and began selling to GreenStar a few years later. In 2003 they moved to their current location on Route 96 between Ithaca and Trumansburg, and in 2005 they joined the Full Plate Farm Collective, a local CSA (community-supported agriculture) collaboration. They also sell at the Ithaca Farmers Market and supply a variety of restaurants.
Lucy, a third-generation farmer and Ithaca-area native with a degree in plant science from Cornell, and Chaw, a Rochester native with a biology degree who started working on farms in college, live on the farm with their four kids, ages 2 to 12. They grow 40 acres of vegetables on 75 acres of farmland, which allows plenty of space for rotating fields and building fertility with cover crops. “We like to rest the ground for a year if not longer between crops,” Chaw says. During that time, cover crops build soil fertility. Mulching and robust crop rotation schedules also help to keep the land healthy and productive.
Stick and Stone products on offer at GreenStar in the summer months include tomatoes of all kinds, summer squash, eggplant, kale, basil, cilantro, green beans, chard, and cukes. New this year are lettuce “party packs” — bags packed with several heads of colorful, less-common lettuce varieties, chosen by Lucy. She scours seed catalogs looking for new varieties to grow, with taste a primary consideration. “I’m a bit of a plant nerd,” Lucy says. While some farms source from a single seed company, she buys from over a dozen open-source seed suppliers.
“We try to grow things that people have yearned to have and can’t find,” Chaw says, whether that be Asian vegetables or Italian varieties. Stick and Stone also specializes in veggie varieties that are particularly suited for the fall growing season. Come fall, check back at the Co-op for a variety of greens, including Chinese broccoli and broccoli raab, and root crops of all kinds, a sampling of which can be found in the farm’s popular “root medley” bags.
“We’re most excited about variety — we do constant experimentation with different kinds of veggies,” says Chaw. That experimentation can be customer-driven, as well. “When you buy from someone local, you have an opportunity to have a say in what you’re eating,” says Lucy. “You can talk to us, we’re part of the community.”