The fields buzz with the low hum of insects in late summer as Kara Cusolito and Aaron Munzer harvest cilantro on Plowbreak Farm with their daughter, June, who drops bunches of cilantro into boxes.
“Turns out, most of farming is just putting things in boxes,” jokes Aaron.
Twelve years ago, Plowbreak Farm started out as Kara and Aaron’s family garden. When they produced more bounty than they could consume themselves, they started a small community-supported agriculture (CSA) service selling to 10 homes—friends and neighbors—locally.
“From there on, we said, ‘Maybe this could be a business,’” says Aaron. “We just hustled for five to eight years before we could quit our other jobs and run the farm full time.”
Today, their 50-acre farm (with 10 acres of vegetable production) employs three to four people, plus themselves, each year. Plowbreak’s crops supply certified-organic, wholesale produce to restaurant chefs and CSA boxes throughout the greater Ithaca region and New York State generally.
“I think the more local farms in the area the better, because we really need to build the regional food system,” says Kara, about the unsustainability of shipping produce thousands of miles.
“I love working with local chefs,” says Kara, noting that local farming built around a community is also a much more efficient way to farm. “I think that if we're going to have a successful regional food system, there has to be more of that, too.”
Kara and Aaron have become a nurturing part of the regional food system—and can be counted among the 2 percent of the population in the United States that is engaged in farming.