Dairy farmers Sarah and Chris Ficken own and operate New Moon Farms in Munnsville, New York.

“I think for us, when we sat down before we had cows, before we had the farm, we decided what sustainability meant to us. And it really meant building a world where the where the future is better than what it is right now,” said Sarah Ficken.

Shortly before their wedding, Chris and Sarah stumbled on what would become their dairy farm. “We weren’t intending to find this farm,” said Sarah. “It was less than a week before our wedding. Instead of getting worried about things like, who was going to sit next to whom, we spent the week before our wedding looking at the farm, making sure it was right.” Chris jokes that instead of going on a honeymoon, the couple went right to New Moon.

Caring for the land

“Sustainability is important to us because when you really get down to it, sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future,” said Chris Ficken. Due to the Fickens’ sustainable farming practices, New Moon Farms has achieved carbon neutrality.

The farm practices no-till where they don’t use tillage. In other words, the crops are grown without the use of plows that disturb the soil. They focus a lot on soil health. “We focus heavily on harvesting when the soil conditions are right, as well as the field conditions, so that we avoid compaction,” said Chris. “Building soil organic matter, part of that goes back to how we house our cows on a composite-bedded pack, which also serves as a manure storage so that the nutrients can be applied to the ground, not only when it’s easy for the farm to do it, but when it’s when it’s advantageous for the plants.”

“Honestly, like just looking through this field makes me incredibly happy because there’s so much delicious cow salad out here right now.” ~Chris Ficken

Caring for the habitat

The edge habitat, where forests meet farm fields, says Sarah, is one of her favorite parts of the farm. “And for us, we’ve really focused on developing the edge habitat because it provides an important habitat for songbirds, and for small and large mammals.”

One of the ways in which the Fickens have measured their success and building habitat is by the birds that have come back. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen new species of neotropical migrants use our farm as an over migration stopping point,” said Sarah.

Producing food for our Future

The Fickens, with their three young children, have strong ties to their local community. When they started farming, Sarah started a farm newsletter. “Through that, we’ve developed these deep and meaningful relationships with folks who open our emails,” said Sarah. A number of those people have become some of the Fickens’ biggest supporters and loyal customers. “I think I posted a picture on our Instagram of a pie that I bake for our family and suddenly, that turned into us now baking a couple hundred pies a year because our community has wanted that. And then our holiday baskets sort of grew out of that,” said Sarah.

The Holiday Baskets

People, both within their local community and within their greater farm community, were looking for meaningful and unique holiday gifts said Sarah. She fulfilled the need by sharing farm fresh products, including homemade pies made with ingredients grown right on their dairy farm. “We’re able to take the jams that we make from the fruit that we grow, and we’re able to source really high-quality maple syrup and honey from farmers across the valley and build these baskets that people can share with their family, and it makes a really unique gift.”

Sarah says the family strives to make their farm a welcoming place and to share the food that’s grown on the farm with others.

“We are very blessed to live in such a beautiful place and with such a beautiful view. At the end of the day, we can sit on our front porch and look across the valley and just see some incredible sunsets.” ~ Chris Ficken