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Producing Excellence

Dennis Derryck

Schoharie County, NY

Operation: Corbin Hill Road Farm

Products Raised/Grown: Mixed Produce

Size of Operation: 96 acres

In Business Since: 2009

Farm Credit Partner: Farm Credit East

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2009

Setting out to improve the poor nutritional prospects of the Hunts Point community in the South Bronx, college professor Dennis Derryck organized a small team of vegetable growers in Schoharie County, N.Y., to deliver on a unique distribution model that also led to Dennis becoming a farmer himself.

The typical community-supported agriculture program requires households to pay for a share of a farmer’s harvest at the beginning of a growing season in exchange for weekly deliveries. This upfront investment was unaffordable to many Hunts Point residents, so Dennis developed a weekly-pay model.

He also contacted Schoharie County farmers including Richard Ball, of Schoharie Valley Farms, and Jacob Hooper, of Barber’s Farm, who needed little convincing to lend a hand toward improving the diets of urban families. Farm Credit East was another early champion, providing the loan that enabled Dennis to purchase the 96-acre Corbin Hill Road Farm where he also grows produce sold through the program.

Working with a number of community partners, including nonprofit organizations that provided volunteers as well as funding to supplement the investment made by the Bronx residents participating in the program, Corbin Hill Farm Share has grown to 280 shareholders within its first year, with the percentage of members taking full shares rising from 31 to 51 percent. A great deal of the success of the program is due to farmers Ball and Hooper, who deliver most of the produce that Bronx residents have grown to appreciate. Dennis’ sights were on expansion in 2011 and, a key consideration, eventual ownership by the people who own shares in the program.

Download a PDF version of this story here.