Martin and Christa Stosiek started Markristo Farm in Hillsdale, NY in 1988. MARTIN: "I was born and raised in this house, and the land was available. And, it’s just about as perfect vegetable ground as you can get. The location where we are, and the markets around us, you know we don’t have to travel very far to find customers. There are a half dozen farms we can call just to get information on stuff. And, we’re basically open here. So, if someone wants to come visit our farm, we’re totally open to having them here. Sharing of knowledge is sort of critical for our success."
MARTIN: "Somebody once told me that a good partnership is having partners that don’t always have the same strengths. So, Christa has strengths and talents and desires that are different from mine. But, they complement each other, so it works. So, she has an interest in flowers, she has an interest in bedding plants, she has an interest in making the farmers market work. And, my interest is in the production of it … you know, I want volume. Christa: He’s macro and I’m micro. Martin: I kind of works that way. We complement each other. We’re not a three crop farm ."
CHRISTA: "I love flowers. I’ve dabbled in designs for weddings and restaurant flowers. Now, we pretty much do flowers for the farmers market and make bouquets, so that’s the biggest end of it. Now and then there’s a special event that I’ll do."
MARTIN: "Our farm is a reflection of our market. And so, it’s not ‘what I want to grow?’ … it’s more, ‘what do my customers want from me?’Over the years the farm has evolved to meet the needs of our customers. The way it works here is that our orders come in the day before or the night before. And then, we go out the following morning and pick it, so the morning of the delivery, we’re harvesting. They’re getting it the same day fresh, same day harvested."
MARTIN: "We always tell the interns, ‘what we’re going to teach you is not how to grow vegetables, but we’re going to teach you what it’s like to live on a farm for a year.’ Because, growing vegetables, that’s the easy part. But, dealing with the things that you can’t control, for example, or just the rhythm of the season, it’s the lifestyle that you learn more about than just growing vegetables."
MARTIN: "These days, there are a lot of internships available, where you can go work on a farm for a season. And, I think that probably would have saved us five years of trial and error if we had done an internship someplace. With interns, it’s a new experience every year for both of us. They’re very different. They bring different skill sets, they’re here for different reasons. So, the interns are sort of the variables every year. And, then, the labor force is a constant. We know what to expect from them every year. They are sort of the baseline of our farm."
CHRISTA: "We spent a lot of years taking vacation, before kids, in the winter, visiting farms and learning from farms. Big, huge conventional farms. We wanted to see their systems and how they did things … the business of it. So we learned a lot from other farmers, and we’d like to share that. MARTIN: I had one farmer tell me that he would give me all the time that I needed, if I reciprocated and gave it to anybody who came to my farm, in the future."
MARTIN: "The market is something you develop over time. You can’t just plunk yourself on some land and find buyers. It takes time to develop, it takes time for customers to have confidence in you, to rely on you that you can deliver what they need. We have some restaurant accounts that are like: ‘we want you to grow our greens, but are you able to deliver it?’ They rely on us for their greens. And, then the chefs, they’ve all been here to the farm. They know the farm. They’ve all seen the kids grow up over time. They’re supporting us not only because of the lettuce we’re delivering to them, but because of the family, they want to support that. CHRISTA: We feel like that too, we care about them as people, not just as a business."