About The Farm

Featherbed Lane Farm is 63 acres of mixed woods, wetlands and fields - roughly half of the property is open, tillable land. With its high quality soils, level fields and adequate water sources, the property is well-suited for agriculture. With its diverse habitats and ecosystems, the farm is also a wonderful place to encourage and sustain wildlife. 

Featherbed Lane Farm is in a convenient location for our CSA Members.  We are very close to downtown Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa and other nearby cities. Just off of Route 67, it's a hop, skip and a jump to get to the farm!  

IMG_8751.jpg
 

How We Farm

At Featherbed Lane Farm, we strive to run a successful farm business that produces nutritious foods while building our soils, caring for our livestock, stewarding our land, respecting our employees and contributing to our community.  

Ideally, farming can be done in a way that balances agricultural production with the maintenance of soil and water quality, wildlife diversity, farmworker rights and health, economic conditions and community development. There is not one best way to farm, rather it is an evolution that needs to account for context. We see it as an always changing pursuit, to farm well. We invite you to learn more, ask questions and be a part of doing the best we can here at Featherbed Lane Farm. 

 

Draft horses

A defining feature of our farm is our work with draft horses. While human powered systems tend to be the most technically efficient, draft animal power and smaller engines are the next best.

In part, I work with draft horses because I like that their food can be grown on the farm, or nearby, and that their waste (manure) is a valuable product for fertility. Draft horses can also cause less soil compaction than tractors, which benefits the flow of water and nutrients in the soil and supports a healthier soil biology. That said, it's important to note that one can farm well or poorly with draft horses, just as one can farm well or poorly with a tractor. We aim to use draft horse power here at Featherbed Lane Farm to produce the best quality of food while also improving soil health.

The main reason for why I farm with draft horses is I enjoy the process of working, learning, communicating and growing with them. In short, I farm with draft horses because I love doing it.

COVER CROPS, COMPOST, MANURE & IRRIGATION

Cover crops are plants grown in a field to support the field's health rather than for their own harvest. The use of cover crops - such as legumes, buckwheat and tillage radish - builds soil organic matter, suppresses weeds, addresses nutrient deficiencies, and improves the soil's drainage and tilth.

Manure and compost are very valuable soil amendments. Particularly when combined with cover crops, manure and compost are integral to any long-term and balanced approach to soil health. Manure is sometimes applied fresh to pasture or hay fields, or to vegetable fields that are in fallow, but we primarily apply manure that has been composted for up to or over a year.  In our compost piles, we mix in bedding from horse stalls, vegetable scraps, wood ash and other organic materials. 

Irrigation in the fields can be critical to ensure crop health and quality. However, we prefer to irrigate as little as possible. Our preference is to build up a high level of organic matter and to select for crops that do well under less coddled conditions. When we do irrigate, we aim for efficient and targeted use of water to benefit the crops and soils and to suppress the weeds.

IMG_2789.JPG

Plants and livestock - Diversity and ROTATIONS

We grow a diversity of crops and raise a diversity of livestock on the farm. We rotate when and where these crops are grown and when and where the animals pastured, both within a year and from year to year. 

Diversity and rotations help to avoid or diminish pest pressures as well as maintain and increase soil health and animal health. Another benefit of on-farm diversity and rotations is they create conditions for healthier crops, which leads to increased yields.  

Diversity and rotations are also employed to minimize or completely remove the use of pesticides and herbicides. In general,we try to use neither of these products. When they are used, we use them sparingly, in consideration of the National Organic Standards and in conjunction with more biological controls and Integrated Pest Management practices. We, our employees, everyone eating the farm's produce, the farmscape and the farm’s bottom line all benefit from avoiding or minimizing their use. 

AGROFORESTRy, SILVOPASTURE and Habitat management

IMG_3166.JPG

Agroforestry is a term that encompasses the production of forest crops, such as tree harvests or maple syrup production as well as mushrooms, wild leeks and more. Initial agroforestry production at Featherbed Lane Farm will focus on harvesting and managing for wild edibles in the farm's forests. Over time, mushrooms, ginseng and other forest crops and products will be added.

Silvopasture is a practice that combines forest management with livestock grazing. We are in the very early stages of developing a silvopasture plan for the farm, with the triple goal of removing invasive species, improving habitat and providing great grazing opportunities for our livestock - likely pigs, goats and/or sheep. 

Habitat management is very important to us at Featherbed Lane Farm. Agroforestry and silvopasture, as well as open field farm production, can all be done in ways that benefit wildlife while also yielding great food. Wherever possible, we will work to integrate habitat management into our farm production practices. We will be planting wildflowers and in other ways encouraging populations of pollinators and other beneficial wildlife. Other habitat management practices will include the management of hedgerows and forest edges to provide shelter for wildlife while also serving as food sources for livestock and wind breaks that benefit crops and farm structures. We will also manage habitat for habitat's sake. And we will be improving the farm's trail networks as well as offering guided nature walks and other on-farm events so that our CSA members can enjoy the wildlife that calls Featherbed Lane Farm home.

 

How We Found and Conserved the Farm

We took nearly five years searching for the right farm. Starting in the fall of 2010, we eventually found and moved onto Featherbed Lane Farm in the spring of 2015. A few of our search criteria for the "right farm" included: a minimum size of around 50 acres that would ideally combine farm fields and non-farm habitat, high quality soils, a home and farm buildings that were ready for use, and close proximity to Saratoga Springs. This combination proved extremely difficult to find, especially since affordability and long-term secure access to the land were two other important criteria. 

Three years into our farm search, we connected with a group called the Local Farms Fund (LFF). LFF is social impact farmland investment group that focuses on helping early stage farmers gain secure access to farmland. At the time, in 2014, they were a new organization. We became their first farm project. We began actively working together to find our farm in early 2015 and, by May of that year, LFF had purchased the property that is now Featherbed Lane Farm on our behalf. 

Local Farms Fund is a community impact farmland investment fund that supports young and early-stage farmers in the NY Foodshed with secure land access. The Fund provides sustainable farmers with lease-to-own arrangements on farm properties in the states connected to the NYC metropolitan area, the NY Foodshed. The investment model is purposefully structured to meet the needs of the farmers and provide security to the investors. The Fund, a Slow Money NYC project designed using Slow Money principles, delivers positive social (farm business & community development) and environmental (sustainable agriculture) impacts while generating modest financial returns for the investors.

We currently have a lease to own agreement with the Local Farms Fund, including an option to purchase the farm in 2020. To help us afford the property at that time, and to ensure it will remain undeveloped and available to other farmers long into the future, we are now in the process of protecting this farm by placing a permanent conservation easement on the property. We are working with both LFF and our local land trust, Saratoga PLAN, to put this agricultural conservation easement in place. The easement will protect the farm from any development that would impair it's agricultural potential and make it more likely that other farmers in the future will be able to access and afford this amazing farm.

 

Family

Jamielynn and I were in high school together, way back in the 1990s, at Saratoga Springs Senior High. We reconnected in 2013 and, by 2015, we got married in Ticonderoga NY. Our first child, Finnegan Daniel Biello, was born in the farmhouse. He isn't quite farming yet, but he loves being outside and he loves the horses!

 
IMG_2235.JPG

Meet the Farmers

 

 

Tim biello, farm Owner and Manager

Tim began farming in 2006. He has worked on and managed farms in the Adirondacks, in Central New York and in the Hudson Valley. Tim started farming with draft horses in 2009 and bought his first team in 2010. If he's not on the farm, Tim loves swimming in the Hudson River and visiting his family in Ticonderoga (where, if possible, he'll be swimming and cliff jumping in Lake George). Otherwise, he's probably on the farm.

 

 
14991403_1328306107219910_4172481367115883977_o.jpg

 

Tory shelley, CSA manager and Farmer

Tory has worked with Tim for stints on various farms around upstate NY and thinks life is better with dirt under your nails. When she is not eating good food and playing her part in the life cycles on the farm, she can be found teaching yoga in the Saratoga area and reminiscing about her recent past life working abroad in wildlife conservation.

 

 
 
 

 

Toni Nastasi, seasonal Farmer

Toni recently returned to the Saratoga area after receiving her Bachelors of Fine Arts at SUNY New Paltz. She has a deep passion and commitment to living sustainably, which led her to Featherbed Lane Farm. Toni spends most her time creating drawings inspired by her rural surroundings and with the company of her collie, Joon.

 
 
 

 

Jamielynn Biello, Farm Owner (and Stylist)

Jamielynn runs her own business when she isn't on the farm. She's a stylist in Saratoga Springs, her days filled with cuts and colors. At 35 Featherbed Lane, however, she helps out with chores (those horses eat a lot!) andwith the general logistics of running and living on the farm.

 

Meet the Horses

 

Bear

Bear was my first horse. I found him in early 2010 at a farm in Northern VT. He was around 3 years old when I bought him. Three years old, for a draft horse, roughly corresponds to the early teenage years for a person in terms of their temperament and desire to test boundaries. We worked through those 'teen years,' and he's truly an amazing horse. Bear is a calm, hard-worker.  He's willing, patient and steady. He's also sweet as pie and he loves a good face scratching!    

Bear was also a totally different color when I bought him. He used to be a dark slate grey color, dappled with flecks and patches of white. As he's matured, he's slowly been turning all white. A neighbor of ours, on Featherbed Lane, told me that he calls Bear "The Ghost Horse."  

 

 
 
 

Duke

Duke was a rescue horse. Whatever his past was, he came to me with a lot of anxiety. It used to take 2 or 3 farmers to steady him long enough to hitch him to an implement. He couldn't stand still for more than a few seconds at a time. It took months of patient work, discipline and affection to get him to where he could relax, stand calmly to get hitched or to take a break from work. He's come a long way!

Duke is a very sensitive horse and he's very affectionate. He teaches me to be calm, to think carefully about my goals and actions when we're working together. He's like Michael Jackson in the That Girl is Mine: he's a lover not a fighter.