Slow & Steady Makes The Little Dream Farm Prosper

The Little Dream Farm founder Sarah Bergstein tells us how adopting a cat named Boonce helped paved the way to a hobby farm calling.

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by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: The Little Dream Farm

The story of The Little Dream Farm starts with a cat named Boonce. After Sarah and Chris Bergstein adopted the feline from a rescue in Philadelphia, Boonce sparked what the former calls a “desire in us to want to move from the city, buy a farm and have more land to live with more animals and get away from city life.”

So began The Little Dream Farm, which is situated on 58 acres in upstate New York. Embracing regenerative and organic farming methods, the venture seeks to live in line with the seasons and embrace the pace of the hobby farming lifestyle.

Taking a break from farm duties, we spoke to Bergstein about focusing on flowers and early hobby farming lessons. We also got into the abiding importance of soil health.

Keeping It Slow & Steady

Early on, Bergstein came to realize that keeping things slow and steady is a vital mantra for starting a hobby farm. “When you try to take on too many things at once, you are doing a lot of things marginally well but nothing very well,” she explains. “We were given this advice, we didn’t really follow it, and we paid for it in the stress and overwhelm of doing too many things at once.”

Adding that due to herself and Chris working full-time remote jobs, farm duties have to be carefully managed and expectations kept realistic.

“After two years of going hard at trying to do it all, we’re scaling back and just doing what we can do well and leaving the rest for now,” says Bergstein. “It doesn’t all have to get done in your first years—and the slower you go, the more you can enjoy the journey as it unfolds!”

Regenerative Farming Methods

Regenerative farming practices are a vital part of the way The Little Dream Farm is run. “We do not use chemicals on our farm,” says Bergstein, “both in our pastures and fields and in our gardens and growing spaces, and with our animals too.”

Bergstein adds that they always “opt for organic, non-toxic” supplies and continually “ask ourselves what the best approach is to solve the root of a problem rather than just masking a symptom.”

The Importance of Soil Health

“We do a first till on growing spaces when we’re starting out new [then] incorporate our donkey manure into our larger planting field and leaf mulch into our smaller garden beds,” outlines Bergstein when talking about putting the farm’s regenerative practices into motion. “We’re always working to build soil health and work with nature and her rhythms.”

“The natural world around us can teach us so much if we’re patient enough and observant enough to watch and listen,” she continues. “We are guided by the notion that we’re simply stewards of the land we have—and we’re always thinking about how to leave it better than we found it.”

Focusing on Flowers

For the 2023 season, Bergstein says that flowers emerged as the farm’s success story. “I’ve never grown flowers from seed at scale before, so with the help of a neighbor we had a huge patch tilled. I grew 1,500 flower seedlings and transplanted them out into the cut flower patch of 11 four-foot-wide by 33-feet-long rows,” she explains.

“We grew all kinds of lovely annuals and perennials and had a blast learning about each plant, its growing habit, how to save seed, and how to maintain a garden of that size and scale throughout the growing season,” adds Bergstein. “It was a blast!”

Living in Line With the Seasons

Reflecting on the hobby farm lifestyle, Bergstein calls it an “unmatched” way of living.

“Coming from big city living, we love the quiet, slow pace of the little town we live in. And we love the space, the fresh air and that we can go for our daily walk outside sometimes without ever encountering another person!” she says. “It’s a different way of living, for sure, and when our friends come and visit they always ask us, ‘Don’t you get bored or stir crazy out here?’ The answer is no and no: We love the rhythm of living in line with the seasons and that we’re so much closer to nature and so much more connected to what it means to be alive.”

Follow The Little Dream Farm on Instagram.

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