Wendy and Asher Burkhart-Spiegel 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 and Asher purchased Common Thread Farm in 2012 from Chris Babis and Amy Brown, who established Common Thread Community Farm in 2008.
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 helps on the farm at CSA distribution as well as in the wash and pack. She is a sophomore in high school and loves to play clarinet and saxophone, dance and spend time with friends. Astrid also helps out sometimes on the farm in greenhouse or the fields. She is in seventh grade and loves piano, singing, reading and chatting with friends.
Packard Haynes is crew leader and harvest manager 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.
Early is joining Common Thread in their second year of vegetable farming and their fourth year of general agricultural labor. They’re excited to join the friendly crew at Common Thread and work for and learn from experienced farmers. Prior to working on farms, they got a B.A. in Anthropology at the University of Georgia, and worked as a cook in restaurants, a crewmember on landscaping crews, and as a baker. Outside of work, Early makes landscape drawings and gentle synthesizer music.
After 3 years of traveling around the US, volunteering and working on farms, Caroline is happy to be settling down in New York. This is their second season on a vegetable farm. Caroline’s interest in farming began as a way to find a type of work that was engaging and necessary. They enjoy the seasonal life of farming, as well as constantly learning new skills and working to provide a necessary resource. Outside of work, Caroline enjoys various creative endeavors, including mending, sewing, and drawing.
Gwynne comes from Singapore, an urban island city-state in Southeast Asia. She is interested in evolutionary biology and enjoys working with plants and insects. She has an MS in Biology from the National University of Singapore and a PhD in Plan Biology from Cornell University. Gwynne is passionate about food and the growing of it. She joined Common Thread in the fall of 2021 in order to get first-hand experience in culturally and environmentally responsible agriculture. She likes science, reading, cooking, cultivating plants and culturing ferments.
Rick is born and raised in central New York and enjoys finding all the nooks and crannies the area has to offer. Rick joined the farm in October 2021 as part of a break in his career in technology and software development. Working in a position that provides food for the community and working outside in alignment with nature were key drivers in joining and staying on with the farm. Outside of work, Rick enjoys a regular meditation practice, as well as running, biking, hiking and all things outdoor adventures.
Christina is a native of NC but has lived in Utica since 2008. During the pandemic, she decided to take a break from teaching middle and high school science to stay home with her young child. Christina loves working outside, helping grow tasty veggies for the community, and contributing to a sustainable future by working part-time at Common Thread. She also enjoys science, photography, Aikido, travel, cooking, art, bicycling, and hiking.
This is Lin Henke’s third season at Common Thread. As a Hamiltonian, she was raised running around the farm and Colgate’s community garden. She’s a rising senior at Georgetown University, studying theology and minoring in Chinese and Philosophy, and leading the Environmental Justice club in her free time. She is always super excited for the opportunity to get out of the classroom and get some hands on learning about farming and local food
Jeff grew up on a dairy farm. He retired from the US Postal Service after 26 years as a rural carrier. He enjoys being outdoors hiking, gardening, and kayaking.
Zoe grew up in Sodus, NY. Now, she is finishing up her last semester at Cazenovia College for Environmental Biology. She says, “I’ve always loved being outside and working with plants. I was ecstatic to join the friendly crew at Common Thread. In addition to my love of the outdoors. I like to read, hike, sail, and occasionally make jewelry.”
Charles is working at Common Thread for his second season while studying Horticulture at SUNY Morrisville and working in the greenhouse at the Syracuse Parks Department. He’s a graduate of Sterling College and has since worked on a number of farms including Poughkeepsie Farm Project where Asher and Wendy also worked (but not at the same time).
Mary was raised on Long Island and Massena NY. Her dad was with the New York State Parks Commission, so as a youngster she spent much of her time in nature. Mary spent many years in administrative positions in various manufacturers in CNY – with continued layoffs within the various industries Mary is now a substitute teacher and works weekends at Colgate University Library and joined the Common Thread farm team this summer. Mary enjoys spending time with her horse and pony, 6 dogs (4 foster – 2 of her own) and her cat Zevon. Mary has a small garden at her home and has about 50 house plants. Mary enjoys paddle boarding and watching the trees dance in the wind.
Danica is a California native and has lived in the Utica area since 2006. She graduated from Utica College with a BS in health and a masters in occupational therapy. She’s very excited to be an apprentice at Common Thread while taking a break from healthcare.