Greene County Success Stories

Family Farm Brings Local Agriculture Front & Center

Family Farm Brings Local Agriculture Front & Center

After meeting her husband and fellow farmer, Alex, Becky Johnk was ready to leave her 9-5 and return to her true passion: farming.

Both Alex and Becky grew up on family farms – for Alex, it was his family’s pig farm in Walnut, Iowa, and for Becky it was her family’s farm in Earlton, where she was an active 4-H and FFA member, showing dairy cows and rabbits at the Greene County Youth Fair.

Although Alex never got the chance to take over the family farm – his family sold it when he was young – he pursued a degree in Agriculture at Iowa State University, and later accepted a job at Stone House Farm in Columbia County.

For the first couple years, the Johnks rented a farm in Livingston, but quickly realized they needed their own property to really expand their operations. With the help of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, the Johnks closed on their property in Greenville in 2015.

The vision of the farm has evolved over the years, as the Johnks figured out what worked and didn’t. Their main focus today is beef cattle, Berkshire pigs and registered Pygmy goats.

In the early days, the Johnks had a makeshift farm stand in their garage. In 2020, Alex built the existing self-serve farmstand, which was a big hit as the pandemic and shipping issues made people look closer to home for food.

In addition to the Johnk’s pork, beef, and jam, the farmstand features other locally sourced goods such as lamb from Schoharie County, milk and cheese from End of the Lane Farm in Cornwallville, goat milk soap from Earlton, Maple Syrup from Jourdin’s in New Baltimore, and eggs from three local farms. In the future, Becky hopes to offer some baked goods, chicken and goat meat, and hold bimonthly farmers markets at the farm.

The Johnk’s recently expanded the farmstand by adding an 18 square foot grain bin that Alex had brought with him from Iowa. With the help of a $13,000 MULTI-Grant from Greene County Economic Development, the Johnks were able to purchase a walk-in freezer, which has been a real game-changer for storing their meats, Becky said.

“Before we had about 7 different freezers in our garage,” she said. “We had to make sure every customer could receive a drop-off that day or we could only hold it for like a day.”

As if the farm didn’t keep them busy enough, both Alex and Becky are staunch advocates of local agriculture and the farming community. Alex serves as president both the Greene County Farm Bureau and the Greene County Youth Fair (both of which Becky is also a member of), and Becky co-leads the Medway Mountaineers 4-H club with her mom, Patty. They are also parents to their six-year-old daughter, Lorraine; Alex has a full-time job off the farm; and Becky routinely travels to Boston to monitor her Coccygeal Chordoma Cancer.

“It’s been my dream my entire life to be farming and I’m able to farm now, so I want to help anybody else that’s interested be able to,” Becky said.

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Topics: Success Stories