Welcome to our new series, “In my Element.” We visit vendors at their farms, studios and kitchens to see what happens behind the scenes. We also ask the hard-hitting questions to see what makes these special people tick. This week we caught up with John Tamburello of Glenhaven Farm during the height of u-pick blueberry season on his farm in T-burg. John and his wife Andrea grow blueberries and make fruit wines, and have a new product – fortified cider.
Before he was a farmer in the FLX, John worked in factories in Buffalo. He went back to school at age 24 and graduated Cornell at 29. John planted blueberry bushes in 1979- which still produce fruit today. 15 years ago they started making wine and the whole operation happens on site. The fruit is fermented and pressed in the barn and then pumped into tanks in the basement of their home. John then bottles, labels, corks and stores everything in the basement. Glenhaven produces 450 cases of wine a year – with 90% sold at market. Don’t be surprised if you walk away with an armful of bottles after visiting John’s booth- he’s got the gift of gab and is a born salesman.
Business owners: John Tamburello, Andrea Beesing and son Joe Tamburello
Business address: 6121 Sirrine Road, Trumansburg, NY 14886
Vendor category: Agriculture
How long in business: 1979
How long at market: 2004
Reserved booth: #67
What led you to become a small agricultural business owner? “I love farming, it was a lifestyle that I always wanted; being self-employed and growing things. I like working in agriculture, it’s a nice lifestyle.”
What do you enjoy most about your line of work? “Being self-employed and meeting a lot of interesting people, talking to different people with the same likes.”
What is your favorite product you make? “Blueberry wine.”
Hardest thing about your business/line of work: “Weather. And the uncertainty of markets. You have to always stay one step ahead, you have to be different. That’s why I got into the rhubarb wine, that’s very different. I wanted to make the fortified cider because a lot of people around here make cider, but this is a different type. And you have to make sure your product is done well.”
How did you get into this business? “I took horticulture classes in Buffalo and my friends thought I was crazy because it was an all-boys school. But I always liked plants! I used to grow tomatoes in my little garden in Buffalo in a plot with my grandmother, so she’s the one that got me started on this.”
Why did you join the market? “I thought it would give me more exposure for our farm, and it has. I got into the wines because it gave us the opportunity to sell for a longer season.”
Favorite part about being a vendor at IFM: “Schmoozing with everybody! And we’re all one team. We all have our one purpose, and that is to grow or make a product that everybody likes.”
Advice for other small business owners: “Never give up (laughs.) Just don’t have one product – you have to diversify. Diversification is survival. If you have one product, and then you get a crop failure, you’re basically out of the ball game for that season. Value-added products have helped us a lot.
Favorite business to shop at the market: “I shop with pretty much everybody! I support everybody I can, and trade’s are always welcome!”