There’s a new vendor at market! Well, sort of… Bright Raven Farm and Apiary‘s banner (featuring a striking image of their avian namesake) started flying at Ithaca Farmers Markets this season. But Bright Raven’s owners, Teresa and Brent, have been regulars at the Farmers Market since 2001, when their business, then known as Red Tail Farm, came on board. They have been homesteading, farming, and bee-keeping on their land in Jacksonville (near Trumansburg) since 2000. Several days a week, Brent or Teresa takes leave of their veggies, orchards, and hives to sell their delicious products. You can find them on Saturdays at Steamboat Pavilion, on Tuesdays at Dewitt Park, and on Wednesdays at East Hill Plaza.
The name change has been a while in the making… Teresa and Brent both grew up in the Ithaca area, and when they started their farm, Red Tail seemed appropriate, as they are both have a great love of wildlife, and the red tail hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) was a common sight in the skies and trees above their fields. But for some reason, the name just never felt quite right, and their customers had a hard time remembering it. People always seemed to refer their farm as “Brent and Teresa’s Farm” rather than by its given name.
Teresa and Brent recently began seeing and hearing ravens around their farm, while up until that point, they had not encountered them in our region. The raven sightings reminded them of a long-ago pivotal moment in their lives, when they were camping and chanterelle-gathering out in British Columbia (where ravens are abundant). At that point, Teresa and Brent had spent two years in Bolivia, where they lived and worked with farmers in remote villages in the Andes. The experience had a strong impact on both of them. Afterwards, in the wilderness of B.C., they made the fateful decision to start their own farm in the Ithaca area, where they both had their own roots. Reflecting back on their reasons for that commitment, and on the exceptional intelligence of the raven, along with its ancient (and continued) spiritual significance to peoples around the world, they decided upon Bright Raven Farm & Apiary.
The common raven (Corvus corax) is a large black bird, related to the American crow but quite distinctive, with a wedge-shaped tail, a lower-pitched croaking call, and a tendency to travel individually or in pairs rather than in large flocks. It is also much larger than a crow, and one of the largest passerine species. A raven is, incidentally, around the same size as a red tail hawk! One final conjecture on Bright Raven/ Red Tail’s bird-inspired farm names: as farmers work in their fields, bent towards the earth, it is important for them to remember to straighten out their backs and turn their faces upwards from time to time. Naming your farm after a bird, and being on the lookout for the namesake, seems like a pretty good reminder!
Meanwhile, back on the farm, Brent and Teresa have built up an amazing farm and homestead. Their two kids, Milan and Luca, who are 5 and 3 respectively, help out on the farm as much as their busy schedules will allow, and their steadfast farm dog, Misha, protects the crops from rodents and other invaders. Bright Raven Farm & Apiary is an amazingly diversified operation, with a huge variety of annual vegetable crops, as well as fruit trees, a blueberry patch, a flock of hens, and lots of bee hives! They have some hoop houses for season extension, where they grow berries, tomatoes, spring greens, and a bunch of other crops. There are fields full of carrots, radishes, beets, and other root vegetables, rows of endives and escaroles, plots of several types of winter squash, and much more.
Teresa also finds the time to write, as a regular contributor to Edible Finger Lakes magazine. The next time you pick up an issue of this periodical, keep an eye out for her column, “Notes From the Farm,” in which she eloquently expounds upon a variety of farming-related topics. That is one way to learn a bit about the goings-on at Bright Raven.
Of course, if you want to learn more about Bright Raven Farm & Apiary, your best bet is to visit Brent or Teresa at market and pick up some fruits, vegetables, and honey! The flavors of the food they produce will tell the story of all the love and hard work that went into growing it.
But since you’re here on the internet right now, and probably not at the Farmers Market, let’s do the next best thing and enjoy some scenes from the farm!