Meet the Farmers


Wendy and Asher Wendy and Asher Asher, Klara and Astrid at the Hamilton Market Asher, Klara and Astrid at the Hamilton Market Packard Packard

Wendy and Asher Burkhart-Spiegel purchased Common Thread Farm in 2012 from Chris Babis and Amy Brown, who established Common Thread Community Farm in 2008.   Wendy and Asher and their daughters Klara and Astrid are happy to be in Central New York, operating a farm that is open to the community and helping to increase availability of fresh, local, sustainably grown produce in the region.  Wendy and Asher were the farm managers at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project from 2003-2012.  Before that, they managed a CSA in Madbury, NH for two growing seasons while finishing their degrees in Environmental Conservation at the University of New Hampshire.

Wendy grew up on a dairy farm in New Hampshire and has farmed and gardened in a variety of settings, including a pick-your-own strawberry farm, a garden center, pecan orchards in Georgia, a homestead in Maine, a public flower garden, a 10 acre organic vegetable farm, and in the gardens of herbalist mentors.  

Asher grew up in suburban Philadelphia and was pursuing a sociology degree when the organic garden at the community where he was completing a civil rights related internship caught his attention.  He has worked on farms ever since, primarily in vegetable production although he has tried his hand at pruning apples, milking cows, and university based agricultural research. 

Klara is 12 years old and loves dance, music and spending time with friends.  Astrid is 9 years old and loves gymnastics and making people laugh.

Farm Crew

John John Jae Jae Haley Haley Mackenzie Mackenzie Alexis Alexis

Packard Haynes is a crew leader at the farm. He has been here for several years and is hoping to reconnect with his family's history in agriculture. He is a graduate from Morrisville State College with a Bachelor's in Science, Technology, and Society studies. His interest in social and environmental justice brought him here to Common Thread Farm to build a deeper relationship with his community by providing wholesome produce and contributing to an educational space for aspiring farmers. He is dedicated to making produce affordable and accessible, maintaining and caring for the land and local ecosystems, and using his knowledge of food production to aid in the deconstruction of Capitalism.

John Bonsted is in his third season at Common Thread.  John says, "With so much to do and to experience, the farm is a great place to learn and work every day.  I'm loving all the things to do and the beautiful places to go in Madison County."

Jae Friedman is in her first season at Common Thread. Over the last five years Jae has worked growing food and medicine on both coasts - OR, WA, PA, FL and CT - and is grateful to have landed now in Madison County. The work of farming enables her to live her commitment to environmental stewardship while feeding others and connecting to the wonder of nature. Jae hopes to deepen her knowledge of sustainable farming practices and to continue the creative work of cultivating justice in our food system, as well as (re)connecting land work with Jewish traditions and celebrations.

This is Haley Tietz's second year at Common Thread. She's excited to learn more about sustainable agriculture and to connect with the people and the land of Central New York. A recent graduate from Hamilton College with a Bachelor's in Literature, she loves to read about, write about, grow, and cook vegetables. She's not sure yet what she wants to do with her life, but she knows that she wants to work with people and plants to make our food system healthier for communities and the Earth. If she were a vegetable she would be baby bok choi because she's quiet, but she's secretly one of the best vegetables on the farm.

This is Mackenzie's first year on the farm and she is excited to learn more about sustainable agriculture.  As a CNY native, she feels a deep connection to the land and cares about the well being of our fragile ecosystems.  As a former share member, she has a passion for cooking with local, seasonal ingredients and believes in the positive effects of connecting local farms with her community.  Mackenzie has a degree in art and enjoys the inspiration provided by Common Thread and the surrounding area for her painting and photography projects. 

This is Alexis' first season at Common Thread. A native of Utica, she has committed herself to staying in the area and taking advantage of all the local opportunities to contribute toward a more sustainable, ethical, creative, and healthy community.  She has been able to contribute to such events as an Alternative Electronic Music series, and organizations including the Antifa Book Club and The Mohawk Valley Freedom School. When not at the farm she may be found working at Cafe Domenico in uptown Utica. She is grateful to be at Common Thread and have the chance to explore a burgeoning passion for local food systems and deepen her understanding of how mindful food practices can affect interpersonal relationships for the betterment of the larger world.