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 junior 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 eighth grade and loves piano, singing, dance, 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.
Charles joins Common Thread as Assistant Field Manager this year, in his third year on the farm. He has worked on a number of farms in the past, including Poughkeepsie Farm Project where Wendy and Asher also worked (but not at the same time). He finishes an Associates Degree in Horticulture at SUNY Morrisville this spring.
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 third 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.
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.
Zoe grew up in Sodus, NY. She recently graduated from Cazenovia College with a Bachelors degree in 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.”
Born and raised in Central NY. Has farmed for the summer for 3 seasons. Has now graduated SUNY ESF with a bachelor’s in Conservation Biology. Moved to Rome, NY to help out her Grandfather. This will be her first full season farming and she is super excited to see a complete season through from greenhouse seeding in the spring to harvest in the fall. Working outdoors had always been the dream job and farming was always something she has wanted to do. So now being able to do it as a job is so exciting!
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.