An Enduring Testament to What It Means To Be a Family Farm
Story by ML Ball
Located just a mile or two down the road from Cornwall, New York, Jones Farm is more than a picturesque family operation offering an array of homegrown fruits and vegetables—it’s a multifaceted destination. With a bakery, café, produce stand, gift shop, country store, frame shop, art gallery and a menagerie of farm animals wandering about, it is well positioned to satisfy a steady stream of visitors from nine to 90. And that’s no accident.
As David Clearwater, the present owner (and great-grandson of the farm’s founder, John Jones) puts it, “To stay viable, you’ve got to change with the times. This area has changed so dramatically over the decades, from a blue-collar working-class community to a white-collar commuting community, or people with second homes. Because we’re not on a main drag, we’ve got to offer enough to make it worth people going 20 miles out of their way to come see us.”
Yet adapting to the public’s changing tastes can be tricky, says David. “It’s a fine line that you walk. We have multigenerational families that come here and want to see things the way they always were, that feeling of ‘grandma’s always behind the counter.’ And she really is! My mother is 88, and she’s still behind the counter. My dad’s 90, and he’s still working on equipment and out plowing. Those aspects remain constant, as well as little things like the candy sticks that people remember from when they came here when they were little. You can’t make it too modern—you still have to keep that feeling that you’re coming to visit family.”
Six generations, still farming the same land. Far too often these days in the Hudson Valley and elsewhere, children of farmers sell the inherited family business to developers and move on. Not so with Jones Farm. Its family roots date back to 1914, when John Jones bought the original acreage from Emily Cromwell, a direct descendent of Oliver Cromwell of England. Starting out as a dairy farm, it then morphed into a poultry and fruit operation. Today, it still produces fruit, but its mainstay is fresh-from-the-farm vegetables.
Proudly bucking the national trend, six generations have remained loyal to the farm. Why is this, when there’s far more money in development? The answer is simple.
“You don’t go into farming to make a lot of money,” explains David. “You go into it because it’s what you love to do. You love getting your hands dirty, you love working with dirt. Either you have that in you or you don’t. Our family has a responsibility to this land. We also have a passion for growing food so that people can discover what real food is supposed to taste like. We can point to our fields and say to somebody, ‘That zucchini? It was grown right there, 20 yards away.’ That’s important.”
For more information about Jones Farm, its hours and seasonal produce, call 845.534.4445 or visit their website at www.jonesfarminc.com.