Meet the Farmers

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 graduates from high school this spring 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 finishes ninth grade this spring and loves piano, singing, dance, and chatting with friends.

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Packard Haynes

Packard Haynes has been the Crew Leader and Harvest Manager at the farm for several years. He is responsible for leading the crew in harvest operations and many other daily projects. As a leader, Packard seeks to create a work atmosphere that is fun and enjoyable while maintaining goal-oriented productivity. He believes in celebrating good-natured work and self-actualization through manual labor. In his free time he enjoys painting, playing Magic: the Gathering and guzzling weird books. 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.  If he was a vegetable he would be a big pumpkin.

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Megan Slater

Megan joined Common Thread as a bookkeeper in 2021. She has an MBA in Finance and Accounting from Utica College and loves bookkeeping and anything organizational. She works in the insurance industry. In her spare time, Megan is chasing after her son and spending time with him outside. They enjoy berry picking, apple picking, hay rides and all of the exciting adventures our area has to offer.  Megan and her family are huge animal lovers and have two Siamese cats who require a lot of love and attention.  Megan loves to cook and bake and experiment with new ingredients and recipes. She has a great appreciation for food and is trying to teach her young son about the importance of agriculture and farm fresh foods.
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Zoë Creason

Zoë grew up in Sodus, NY.  She 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 Zoë’s love of the outdoors, she also enjoys hiking, paddleboarding, reading, and taking her dog Luna on adventures.  If Zoë were a vegetable, she would be a head of magenta lettuce.

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Haley Tietz

Haley returns to Common Thread this year as the wash and pack manager. Having spent the last two seasons in the Hudson Valley managing a vegetable farm, they are glad to be back in CNY among friends. On the farm Haley finds satisfaction in creating efficient systems, repairing and maintaining tractors, and fraternizing with the perennial herbs.  Outside of work you may find them knitting, doing collage, sewing, or reading science fiction with a cat on their lap. If they were a vegetable, they would be fennel.

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Dinah Gilbert

Dinah is the assistant harvest manager at Common Thread with three years of experience in agriculture. They see their work as a way to facilitate the harmony between the physical and spiritual well being of the land and the people that inhabit it. On the weekends you’ll witness them reading, enjoying nature, and spending time with family and friends. Dinah was a vegetable they would be a parsnip.

Mary Strong

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 has been on the Common Thread farm crew for a few years. 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.

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Bronson Cvijanovich

Bronson is an outdoor education specialist that splits his time between the field crew at common thread and the Colgate outdoor education program. At the farm, Bronson enjoys seeing the tangible results of his work at the end of each day. His favorite thing about working at Common Thread is the spirit of camaraderie among crew. In his free time he enjoys a slew of outdoor activities such as backpacking, running, and bike touring. Ultimately, Bronson plans to pursue further education in the geosciences. If he were a vegetable, he would be a Leek.

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Gretchen Coakley

On a leave of absence from teaching, Gretchen began a new endeavor as a part-time farmer at Common Thread in July 2023. After teaching for 32 years in the Oswego CSD, Gretchen will retire in November 2024. A shift from teaching to farming was prompted by a relocation to reunite with her husband Jeff, who moved to Hamilton for work in 2020, and her experience visiting the farm as CSA member and a passion for flower gardening and nature. When not working, Gretchen enjoys spending time with family, including two adult daughters and grandpup Wrigley, rowing on Lake Ontario, landscaping, learning to play the ukulele and chess, cooking, and exercising, especially walking around Lake Moraine. Gretchen says, “I enjoy the camaraderie of the hardworking and compassionate individuals at Common Thread. Farming allows me to enjoy the simplicity and gifts of nature while strengthening my mind and muscles. Learning about and contributing to the agricultural community is truly fulfilling. Like all CSA members, I also enjoy creating meals with fabulous food grown on the farm. ”

Liz O’Neil

Liz joined Common Thread as a CSA member in 2022 upon moving back to her hometown of New Hartford. In 2023 she volunteered with the fall harvest and subsequently joined the crew part time. She is an artist who loves being in touch with nature. She is also an avid cook and loves discovering new ways to enjoy all the wonderful vegetables.

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Hillary Overberg

Hillary is happy to join the Common Thread community this year on the ground level of sustainable, regenerative agriculture. Her interests lie in building community around farm to table values while exploring the dynamic needs of climate change adaptability on small scale farms, building resiliency in local food economies, and providing the access and abundance that promote long-term healthy lifestyles in harmony with the environment and human spirit. She is an artist, hiker, and long time student of meditation, qigong and yoga.

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Rick Gloo

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.

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Natalie Hawes

Natalie is a Syracuse University graduate student pursuing a master’s in social work and is passionate about social justice and environmental sustainability. Her work at Common Threads combines these passions, allowing her to support the local community through sustainable agriculture while reconnecting with nature. Natalie believes nature to be healing and enjoys working with the earth on the farm. She finds joy in sharing the practice of yoga, homesteading, and supporting local businesses whenever possible. Natalie loves her dog, chickens, son, and husband more than life itself (in no particular order).