WHO ARE WE
Wyllie Fox Farm is a small, family-owned farm located 30 miles northwest of Syracuse that has specialized in growing Upstate New York’s finest, certified organic seedlings since 2012. With over 250 varieties of vegetables, plants, and herbs we have what you need to get a head start on your garden or farm. While we are proud to be 100% Certified Organic and are dedicated to the highest quality of plants and produce for our customers and our planet, we believe YOU are the steward of your finest well-being. We invite and ENCOURAGE you to visit the farm, and are happy to meet our fellow Wyllie Foxers by appointment: (315) 427-8266
The Requirements of A Good Farmer are at least four:
– The ability to make a full and comfortable living from the land;
– To rear a family carefully and well;
– To be of good service to the community;
–To leave the farm more productive than it was when he took it.
If you know Wyllie Fox Farm, you’re likely familiar with our smiling and chatty farmer, Jamie, who founded the farm with his wife, Maggie in 2003.
Jamie’s story starts at age 3 when he recalls his father, who was an avid gardener, ordering ‘penny packets’ in his seed orders each year. ‘Penny packets’ were a melange of seeds of various shapes, sizes, and colors, marketed to children in an effort to introduce them to the wonders of growing.
Guess what. It worked on our young farmer.
As Jamie grew into a teen, he found the garden as not only a place of wonder but also a place of solace. When he wasn’t catching snapping turtles, or playing football, he was tending the garden. Farming became entrepreneurial at age 13 when he set up a roadside stand under a locust tree at his home. Some of the first crops he sold were shell peas, broccoli, and carrots. No kale or chard yet, folks!
Next time you visit the farm, ask him to show you the original plywood sign from that first farm stand that reads ‘produce’. It hangs in the farm’s washroom.
In 2000, Jamie and Maggie met while they both worked in the landscape industry in her home state of California. They fell in love and eloped soon after. Eventually, they decided to move back to Central New York and purchased an 1850’s farmhouse with acreage in Cato. Everyone they told of their plan to remodel the ramshackle house and establish an organic farm scratched their heads in disbelief. However, the couple had vision and optimism to see the project through… They tore the house down to the foundation, and Jamie learned A LOT about building a house, as he rebuilt the home, completing 95% of the work with his own hands, incorporating wood and beams he wrangled from other fallen barns.
Between renovations, Jamie spent as much time as he could learning from his mentor and one of the community’s founding organic farmers, Dick Degraff of Grindstone Farm. In 2007, the couple planted their first acre of vegetables. In proper organic practice, the other 9 acres were planted to a buckwheat cover crop. That season, Wyllie Fox Farm set up its first market stand, Saturday mornings at Natur-Tyme!
Over the next few years, the farm grew exponentially. While Maggie continued to work off the farm as a Landscape architect, Jamie was able to commit his full attention to farming. The CSA launched, the first two greenhouses went up, farm produce was wholesaled to grocers and restaurants and, a barn, walk-in cooler, and washroom were built. In 2010, the farm was proud to hold it’s the first year as a certified Organic Farm through Northeast Organic Farmer’s Association (NOFA).
While the farm had many successes, there were also challenges. One of which was the couple deciding to take a step back from growing the farm and Jamie taking an off-farm job. However, they also welcomed a daughter, Anabelle into their family during this time! The silver lining was that this momentary pause allowed a shift from field production to heirloom seedling production, a farming operation that Jamie could simultaneously do WHILE caring for Anabelle. During these first few years of Anabelle’s life, Jamie also served as the President of NOFA, which further developed his education and connections with the organic farming community.
2014 was an especially challenging year when Maggie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was strong and brave in her fight with the disease, but sadly, passed away in 2017. Her final project on the farm was to create “Anabelle’s Secret Garden”, a space designed with love, where Anabelle could spend quiet time, share with her loved ones, and feel connected with her mother. Maggie’s contribution to the farm and family will always be in the hearts of the farm family, and in the land. Jamie and Anabelle are forever grateful for their friends and family who supported them during the challenging times and continue to help them celebrate Maggie’s life and carry out her legacy.
As Jamie and Anabelle re-framed what life would be after their loss, Jamie maintained an off-farm job, as a crop manager for a CBD hemp production farm, managing over 250 acres. Anabelle continues to be a happy-go-lucky and creative child, loved by her community and family. She enjoys playing on a local soccer team, swimming on the school team and helping out on the farm.
In 2019, Jamie and Tere re-met when Tere came to buy tomato seedlings at the Natur-Tyme seedlings sale. They had briefly met each other years before when they both were involved with a local food hub.
As the season progressed, the two ended up having many long conversations as Jamie closed the market and Tere started to come out to the farm to weed whack, and help with other chores. The two quickly fell in love with each other and the idea of farming again, together. Tere has strong roots in the local food community, a background in organic farming and experience in business management, so the couple were quick to start planning and plotting to re-enliven the farm, and bring it back into a larger scope of production. Upon hearing of their partnership, a mutual friend of theirs fondly dubbed them “the Magical Match”, a name that stuck. Anabelle and Tere’s two children (Eden and Euriah) have been getting along fondly, the girls putting on homespun musical productions, and everyone lending a hand stacking firewood and other small chores on the farm.
The farm has maintained it’s organic certification since that first year certified, and Jamie and Tere plan to incrementally add back to the vision of the farm. For 2020, they are excited to upgrade the greenhouses with automated irrigation systems, which will enable the development of the wholesale seedling aspect to the farm. They have plans to slowly get back into field crop production, working with a selection of restaurants that focus on sourcing local products. Their 10-year plan involves expanding the property and adding educational stays for those interested in an experience on the farm.
Currently, they are proud to offer over 200 varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seedlings to the home gardener, fellow farmers, and garden centers. They would love to hear any feedback, questions or special requests that you may have, and hear about how your garden grows! Shoot them an email with any thoughts or questions you may have, and check out our social media for your invitation to Fox Fest (Early to Mid-October)!