Woven Stars Farm
An interview with Lizzie Galeucia Woven Stars Farms owner
1) When, how and why was Woven Stars started?
When Emerson and I met several years ago, I was finishing up an apprenticeship at Kinderhook Farm and Emerson was consulting to local landowners in environmental design. We both are passionate in sustainability, animal welfare and regenerative agriculture, and as a couple, wanted to produce food that encompassed all these aspects. A couple years later we took the plunge, found farm land to lease and started to implement our ideas into reality
2) What is the most interesting thing you have learned about honey?
Bees are usually known for the honey they produce, but honeybees do so much more than make honey. Our bees have been the most profound of teachers with our development of Woven Stars. Bees have given us great guidance in best management strategies for our farm organism. Especially in learning about maintaining diverse pastures for our livestock, understanding the agricultural practices of neighboring farmers, and the pollination of wildflowers. Conventional agricultural practices have contributed greatly to the decline of the pollinator populations. One of our goals is to provide as much pollinator habitat as possible for our bees and native pollinator species.
3) What are the biggest challenges or hurdles you face?
The biggest challenge we currently face is finding a balance in making our products affordable to the local community but getting a fair price for our products to sustain our business. We believe everyone should have access to healthy, organically grown food. Cost factors such as the cost of grain and hay, are limit us when determining the charge for our products. We are currently developing a silvo-rotational system for our sheep, goats and chickens to stop the dependence on hay or cereal grains. We hope to bring the cost of our production down and in turn make our products more affordable in the future.
Another challenge we face is raising bees for honey production in this area of the Hudson Valley. The lack of forage due to large industrial agriculture and the end of summer dearth are challenges in themselves. In addition, we have taken a stance on not treating the bees for any parasites or disease. We believe that the evolution of the honey bee has been greatly hindered by the use of these chemicals within the hive ecosystem. We have above average winter losses but the stock we have built up over the years have shown resistance to these common “pests” and “diseases” that are common in bee keeping and will hopefully continue.
4) How do you balance sustainability with profitability?
The challenge of balancing sustainability with profitability is difficult and we are still trying to figure that out in our new business! One idea we are implementing is operating a diversity of smaller enterprises within the farm to help support one another. For example, if there is a drought one year and the honey production is low, we would put more reliance on our other enterprises to support us for that year.
We are also in the process of expanding our mushroom operation next year, which has proven to be a reliable source of income as it isn’t as weather dependent as our other income sources!
5) Excluding your own, what’s another natural food product(s) or brand that you always have at home and why?
A favorite of ours is Hawthorne Valley Ruby Sauerkraut. We usually buy the gallon carton from the Kraut cellar as it makes a great addition to any meal. It is astonishing how quickly we can go through a whole gallon.