Empire Farm


Empire Farm is home to the FarmOn! Foundation in Copake New York. Nestled in an agricultural community in the heart of the Columbia County, this historic 220-acred educational farm is home to the FarmOn! Ag-Academy in partnership with SUNY and Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where young adults learn the business of food on an organic working farm tied to “applied learning” experiences by contract growing for New York City Celebrity Chefs.


These supporters include: Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurants: Nougatine At Jean-Georges, The Mercer Kitchen, abc kitchen, abc cocina, Perry St, The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges, The Mark Restaurant & Bar, Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill, April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig, Candle79 and Cafe, Terrance Brennan of Roundhouse Beacon, Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, Zakary Pelaccio of Fish & Game Hudson among others including fresh organic produce to God’s Love We Deliver and Hudson Valley schools.


Sustainable practices guide the growing principals at Empire Farm to yield a wide variety of high quality organic produce (greens, roots, fruits and herbs) from regionally sourced biodynamic and organic seed and soil partners such as, McEnroe Organic Farm, Hudson Valley Seed Library and Turtle Tree Seed Co.


Our four-season growing curriculum is made possible with a combination of custom growing in the victory garden 10 acre fenced field and heated greenhouses. Students offer curated blends of greens for all clients on this student-run operation teaching youth entrepreneurial skill sets and sustainable farming in a small business environment.


Empire Farm is committed to NYS GAP program regulations and strict organic practices are implemented for NOFA-NY certification.


You are welcome to visit us at Empire Farm anytime for a chef’s tour and tasting or culinary class with family, friends or our community-at-large. Open 7 days a week 8am-5pm.

Astor Family Legacy


Empire Farm is a historic Astor property located on the corner of New York State at the intersection Massachusetts and Connecticut. Our 220-acre farm is home to the FarmOn! Foundation with a legacy fit for the next generation to feed us!


Established circa 1830, Empire Stock Farm is sister property to the famed farm called Astor Courts located in Rhinebeck NY. The old estate formerly known as Ferncliff (once Ferncliff Farm and today called Astor Courts) overlooks the Hudson River that in the 19th century was purchased by William Backhouse Astor Jr who was drawn to the Hudson River Valley area for its beauty as well as its ancestral heritage as unexplored but “the most entrepreneurial” territory. The region was about growth.

“William Astor’s grandfather, John Jacob I, came to America in the 1790s from Waldorf, Germany. America was his land of opportunity: he became a trader in furs and opium and made a fortune in China on both in an established export businesses on both coasts when the western part of the continent was still inhabited mainly by Native Americans, and largely unexplored by all but the most entrepreneurial – that being a sleek word for a hardscrabble and dangerous existence of the new world.


With his great profits, the first Astor became interested in buying Manhattan real estate. It was not called real estate then but instead: land, lots, farms, and acreage. This was not considered an especially enterprising idea because the city of 65,000 in 1805 was centered around what is now the southernmost downtown and the tip of the island of Manhattan. A horse and carriage ride up to what is today known as 59th Street and Fifth Avenue took four hours along a rocky, hilly terrain, and it would be decades before the rails or the automobile. Nevertheless, Astor had made his fortune exporting and understood New York City’s harbor, one of the best in the world, could only grow and grow.


At his death (at age 84) in 1848, Astor was the largest landowner in the city, and one of the world’s richest men, collecting rents all the way up Broadway to what is now Times Square and beyond. On his deathbed when asked if he had any regrets, he allegedly said, “yes, that I didn’t buy more of Manhattan.” His estate proved him the richest man in America – his fortune estimated at more than $100 billion in today’s dollars.


He had two sons and three daughters. The first born son John Jacob II is remembered as “feeble-minded.” He never worked for his father. The second, William Backhouse Astor, was sent back to Germany for his education and then joined his father in what was still the family store (the China trade).


Young Astor served his father as a glorified accountant, if that. However, he did follow his father and increased family real estate holdings. When he married the daughter of a Revolutionary War General and of Robert Livingston of Clermont Manor, he was moving up socially, a matter of great interest to the father. Society in New York in those early days (and they did consider themselves “society”) was made up of ancestors of the Dutch and British. Not the Germans.


The young Wiliam B. Astors had six children – three girls and three boys. The last child, Henry Astor (Grandson of John Jacob I), would be largely disowned, estranged and disinherited by his father for marrying the farmer’s daughter, and lived quietly with her and her Dinehart family in seclusion at West Copake on the proceeds of a trust fund Henry built that is today known a Empire Farm, then an equestrian and estate-farm in Columbia County. He is said to have lived, compared to many of his Astor relatives, happily — and grandly — ever after at the farm until his death in 1918 at the age of 86 at which time Henry Astor also owned sixty three- and four-story dwellings, thirty-eight tenement houses, thirty-three leased parcels of built-on land, three theatres, and seven factory buildings, which sold for $5,159,075 in NYC at the time.


The other two sons – John Jacob III and William B. Jr. — were their father’s principal heirs. (In those days, female children were not regarded as worthy of, or needing as much as, their brothers, just as it often still is in England and elsewhere.


Source: New York Social DiaryYodelout



Healthy Food Access and Intergenerational Connection To Seed + Soil. In any weather – we are farming! Every day at Empire Farm there is so much to see, experience and learn about! Entrance to the property is FREE and you may sign up for a class, a tour, drop in programming or membership. Check our Calendar of Events for more information.


FarmOn! at FarmOn! at Empire Farm is home to an Ag-Academy and organic working farm in New York’s Hudson Valley community. Committed to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of youth in agriculture, and dedicated to educating and preparing the next generation in the business of food and the art of sustainable farming. We invite you to get involved with our community center and food lab. Young people are more and more aware of the importance of their food choices on health and the environment, which has reignited an interest in farming. In order to maintain that interest, these young entrepreneurs need to understand how they can make a living in agriculture. That is where FarmOn! Foundation will make a critical difference and reverse the trend of Agribusiness back to re-establishing economically and environmentally sustainable family farm, small-scale operations. Join our movement to inspire change and keep farmers farming.


Fun is a Commodity! We host a variety of events and youth educational programming at our 220 acre historic organic working farm in Copake NY in the Hudson Valley – New Yorks largest second home buying market uniquely located at the corner of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Experience, impact and imprint with unique opportunities to activate, underwrite and sponsor our work in a partnership that captures and converts with content and engagement.

Open To The Public


Visit us at Empire Farm!

Hudson Valley in New York State (Columbia County)
Empire Farm, 556 Empire Road, Copake, NY 12516



Weekdays: 8am – 5pm or by appointment for tour and tasting!
Weekends: Schedule a visit or tour by calling 518.329.FARM or email us: info@farmonfoundation.org


Food Education

We provide opportunities to align with responsible food ways and resilient agriculture to build local economies and education.



Get involved in seed + soil in many ways, stroll the 220 acres on our historic farm, or schedule a farm tour today! Re-learn how to eat and FarmOn!

We offer the following activities: planting, education workshops, farm store, cooking classes, hiking, bike recovery stop

Bathroom and Water available to the public!



Become a member of FarmOn! at Empire Farm to host events, classes, or overnight rentals at our historic farmhouse. Inquiry Tessa@farmonfoundation.org
Join the Conversation: @FarmOnFarmOn #FarmOn #Starmer #GetDirty #abcsa #EmpireFarm #AgAcademy #EatLocal #HOOT #ThankAFarmer