by Ed Yowell, Slow Food NYC
Jurrien Swartz’s day job is as a financial consultant to Credite Suisse. His other job is that of CFO (Chief Farm Entrepreneur) of Holton Farms, which, as summer is upon us, is his other day job. Holton Farms, the motto of which is “Good earth. Good eats,” is implementing a unique farm-to-city distribution model to serve two distinct New York City populations, CSA subscribers and food desert residents.
Holton Farms, in Bellow’s Falls, Vermont, near Westminster, has been in Jurrien’s family since the mid-1700s. Until 2007, it was a conventional, specialty crop farm, selling produce to local supermarket chains. In 2007, Jurrien and his cousin, Seth Holton, decided on an alternative business plan – one that would help get more fresh, regionally grown food into New York City.
To meet the demands of New York City eaters, they have developed relationships with other Vermont and New Hampshire farms and specialty producers (a Fair Trade coffee roaster, a creamery and a bakery) and are beginning to raise livestock (Black Angus beef cattle, chickens and turkeys now, pigs and sheep later). They started turning Holton Farms organic in 2008 and are transitional now. And, they have acquired a facility for aggregating produce prior to delivery to New York City. They are ready for us now and their three-pronged distribution strategy is in play.