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  • Writer's pictureCatherine White

Minding Your Business: CalmUnity Farms

Out of the Pandemic, a Unique Community Business is Born

Name of Business: CalmUnity Farms

Address: Elmira, NY

Social Media: @calmunityfarms (Instagram and Facebook)

# Years in Business: 2

Owner/Owners: Juanita Wald (she/hers) and Lee Pierce (they/them). We also have cooperative members who help with land management, labor, and events: Isaiah Harris, Sam Somostrada, and Zeke Pierce.

Why did you start your business?

We started our business because we want to help regenerate and revitalize our land and the community it supports. We both grew up in Elmira (we met at Booth School) and this community has given a lot to us — we want to give back. We have an underserved community surrounded by resources and feel we are uniquely positioned to make a difference.

Tell me about your business:

We are an equity cooperative fruit and vegetable farm that uses permaculture principles to design sustainable systems. Our crops include corns, beans, squashes, greens, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, melons, and berries — we prioritize heirloom varietals and plants that are native to the Chemung River Valley.

We have worked with the Farm to Preschool program in Horseheads and host a “plant a seed” stand at the Wisner Market. Our priority is putting people in relationship with plants, educating them about food systems, and empowering them toward food security. Therefore, we make our food available at no and low cost to the families who need it most. We are very grateful to everyone who donates their money, labor, or other resources to help us help others and the planet.

Who are your customers?

Grocery shoppers, local small business owners, and families in Chemung County facing food insecurity.

What did you do differently during the pandemic that kept your business alive?

We started this business in direct response to the pandemic.

Other Important Information:

On October 15, from noon to 4 p.m. at Ernie Davis Park in Elmira, we are hosting our Fall Harvest Party & Fundraiser. We will have fresh local food, free face and pumpkin painting, and music .

About this feature

Minding Your Business is a free feature that highlights small businesses in the Southern Tier. If you're interested in having a business featured, email for information.


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