Who are the farmers who fill the tables of Upper West Side greenmarkets with fresh produce and homemade products? Recently, photographer Stephen Harmon profiled the Locust Grove Fruit Farm. Now, he has turned his camera toward the Shannon Brook Farm, run by two former New Yorkers who discovered there was another way to live and work.
Text and Photographs by Stephen Harmon
Participating in the Tucker Square Green Market (W. 66th and Broadway) on Thursdays, Shannon Brook Farm is located 250 miles away from the UWS in the Finger Lakes region of NYS near the village of Watkins Glen, famous for its auto race course.
Owned and operated by partners Walter Adam and Shannon Ratcliff, Shannon Brook is a 125-acre Certified-Organic farm, raising free-range broiler chickens, egg layers, Pekin duck, pork and lamb on organic pastures. It provides UWSers with the highest-quality products different from the fruit, vegetables, honey and baked goods offered at most green markets.
Shannon Brook is more than a farm. It is a labor of love for Walter and Shannon. They both lived and worked in NYC for many years, but realized 11 years ago that they wanted to, and could, leave for life and work in the country. They were able to buy a dilapidated 100-year-old farm, which they developed, and continue to develop and grow, into the Shannon Brook Farm of today.
It is very hard work; few people want to be employed on farms; everything that is required to raise, care for and harvest the farm animals is done by Walter and Shannon. They also raise guardian dogs that protect the sheep from bears and other forest animals. The farm has raised sheep on pasture and in the woods for over 100 years. Shannon Brook continues the tradition with about 65 acres of pasture and 60 acres of forest.
On Tuesdays Shannon packs the numerous products the farm offers the public. At about midnight Walter starts the 250-mile drive to NYC, setting up on Wednesday at the Union Square Market downtown. After working Union Square, he drives up Broadway to the Tucker Square Market, sleeps in the van and sets up the next morning to serve the ever-growing UWS population that looks forward to Thursdays and Shannon Brook Farm.
Below are the three main greenmarkets on the Upper West Side: