Rise & Root Farm
Michaela & Jane Hayes-Hodge, Karen Washington, Lorrie Clevenger
Michaela Hayes-Hodge is one of four owners at Rise & Root Farm in Chester, New York, growing vegetables, herbs, flowers and plant seedlings for their local community and customers in New York City.
Her ties to the city run deep, as Michaela and the farm partners met and formed the idea of their farm business in 2015 while living in New York City—and it’s where Michaela met Jane Hayes-Hodge, who later became her wife and farm partner. Rise & Root Farm was also founded by Karen Washington, a lifelong New York City resident and Lorrie Clevenger, a founding member of BUGS and Farm School NYC.
Michaela, Jane and the farm partners met and formed the idea of their farm business in 2015 while living in New York City. Now, after over half a decade in operation, their farm continues to focus on the healing power of food and farming to build a more equitable food system. Now firmly planted in the land, their city roots remain as deep as ever.
Last year, the farm secured a large contract to grow seedlings for NYC Parks GreenThumb, serving community gardeners throughout the city. During the pandemic, this was their one source of guaranteed farm income.
Michaela and the team experienced more customers approaching them at the farmers market to ask for guidance for growing their own plants, too. “ It was just such a year of increased food insecurity that it became even more important to find ways to help our communities have more food security—and growing your own food is definitely one of those ways,” Michaela says.
However, growing the seedlings in the existing high tunnel structure on the farm was challenging, especially if they wanted to scale up. Rise & Root Farm applied for a Brighter Futures Microgrant from American Farmland Trust and Tillamook County Creamery Association, which provided Rise & Root $5,000 to upgrade their high tunnel to a fully functioning greenhouse with water, electricity, and heat—crucial additions to protect both farmers and delicate plant starts from the unpredictably cold New York weather at the start of the growing season in early March. The timing was especially critical, as they doubled their trays this year to grow 43,000 plant starts for GreenThumb to distribute in the city.
“It has been such a game changer for this season to not have to worry about the plants freezing overnight and to be able to water whenever we need to,” Michaela says.
Last year, they covered each seedling tray with a protective cloth when the temperatures dropped and had to wait to water plants until the sun thawed the frozen hoses running across the driveway.
The electricity also powered space heaters in the greenhouse during the colder months, which enabled the team members to safely meet with each other and socialize in a ventilated space during the pandemic.
“Thank you to American Farmland Trust and Tillamook for the grant because it has definitely been game changing in helping us to get the greenhouse, which is basically the hub of our farm, to a place where it is completely livable for us and the plants. It has been such a gift and we really appreciate it.”
The farming community needs our help more than ever. Here are three ways you can help:
Purchase Tillamook products—when you buy Tillamook cheese, you’re backing our farmer-led values and supporting our efforts to protect farms and the future of farming for generations to come.
Shop the All for Farmers Marketplace on Food52.com. You can support the All for Farmers Coalition which is helping protect the future of farming for generations to come.
Learn more about Rise & Root Farm and follow their work on their website or Instagram. And, if you live in the area, consider shopping their products here. Stay tuned for more stories like this and follow along on social @Tillamook.