How We Farm
We are located along the Delaware River, where we grow a diverse mix of vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers on our 25 acres. Tended with care our river bottom soil grows delicious and nutrient-dense produce. As farmers, we take the long view that while growing food, we should always be improving our soil, increasing the farm’s biodiversity (above ground and below), and contributing to our community. We do this by using cover crops, crop rotation, and creating insect and wildlife habitat. We use no pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers and we are Certified Organic by NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC. Diversity of crops is integral to our farming success. Not only are we able to offer a good mix of products to our customers, but diversity also helps us through weather fluctuations. Every year some crops will fail. We never know which crops will fail, but most often the conditions which cause one crop to fail will also help another crop to thrive. The diversity of plants growing also helps to increase the diversity of soil organisms.
Healthy Soil = Healthy Plants = Delicious and Nutrient Dense Food
“We believe in the concept of Natural Capitalism. Our entire economy is based upon the bounty of natural resources. Our human mandate must be to use those resources in a way that does not destroy and deplete them. Natural Capitalism applied to agriculture means we must not only protect soil and water, but also improve them while we are producing food. Producing food is not enough- we also need to sell it at a fair price and make enough money to pay the humans working the land. That is to say that human capital is another resource to respect and value. We aim to be honorable employers that pay a fair wage, share the bounty with our team (vegetal and financial), create a respectful workplace, and train our team members to be professionals. Farming is a vocation which should be encouraged and valued, whether you are the farm owner or farm staff member.”
~ Greg Swartz
Farming requires many energy inputs. For our farm the 2 most significant inputs that we import are fuel and electricity. We are unfortunately tied to fuel for our tractors and delivery trucks. We have, however, made great progress with electricity. In 2018 we installed a 50.4 kW solar panel system which provides almost all of our electricity needs on the farm. This electricity runs our walk-in coolers, lights, greenhouse fans, and electric irrigation pumps.
Greg Swartz started the farm with Tannis and he leads overall operations for the farm. He has been farming in the Upper Delaware River Valley since 2000. After seven years as an apprentice on local farms (including Wild Roots Farm, Apple Pond Farm, and Gorzynski Ornery Farm) he and Tannis bought their first farm. In the first couple years of building the farm, Greg was the Executive Director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY). He then returned to full-time farming and hasn’t slept much since. In 2015 Willow Wisp Organic Farm moved 5 miles down the road to the banks of the Delaware River. This new farm has allowed a tripling in production. Greg’s goals are to grow high-quality food, improve the farm ecosystem, and employ as many people as possible to show that farming can be and should be the key to economic development in our region.
Tannis Kowalchuk started the farm with Greg and she leads cut flower production, cooks crew farm lunch, and manages the social media accounts at Willow Wisp. In 2018, Tannis became the founding Artistic Director of Farm Arts Collective, an agri-cultural center based on the farm that provides public programs in theatre, agriculture, food, and ecology. Tannis is a professional theatre-maker and has created over 25 original productions including work with NACL Theatre and Primus Theatre. She has a weekly radio show, Ophelia’s Flowers on WJFF and sits on the board of Evergreen Garden in Monticello and Tusten Heritage Garden in Narrowsburg, NY.
Simon Kowalchuk-Swartz is Greg and Tannis’ son, he is an athlete and young farmer.
John Bachman has been farming since the early 1990’s. He has worked on many vegetable farms, including being the first farmer of Thanksgiving Farm at The Center for Discovery in Harris, NY. John’s attention to detail and broad skill set makes him indispensable. He joined the Willow Wisp team in 2010.
Joe Powell (since 2013)
Robert Eldred (2015)
Bobby Skotch (2015)
Mark Aubrey (2018)
The team is rounded out with several more people who are newer to the team. Each year we bring on new local people to learn the craft of farming.