Main Street News

All about organic at Deep Roots Farm in Copake

By Published On: July 9th, 2024

Deep Roots Farm is a family run farm in Copake, NY. Run by farmers Scott and Stormie O’Rourke and their two daughters, Scarlet and Fiona, they grow organic food with regenerative and sustainable practices at the forefront.

Scott got his first interest in farming as a teenager while working at what is now Together for Youth (formerly Berkshire Farm Center) in Canaan, NY. 

“I had a really good mentor while I was there and he took me under his wing. When I came home, I did a lot of growing and gardening,” he said. 

When he met his wife, Stormie, in 2015, they bonded over their shared interest in growing. The idea for Deep Roots Farm quickly molded from there. They started on one acre with no equipment and limited farming experience and have since expanded to encompass 50 acres in Copake. 

“It’s always been our passion,” Scott said. 

Regenerative farming practices  

Deep Roots Farm is a certified organic farm by the USDA and is certified by the Real Organic Project, which is a farmer-led movement that strives to protect and strengthen the organic farming movement by promoting authentic organic practices. 

Deep Roots is also working towards being a minimal tillage farm. “At this point, we’re tilling a bit to get our fields to get the scale and production that we’re looking for, but we’re working towards doing as little tilling as possible.” 

By tilling less, they’re able to interrupt the soil less and therefore improve the microbiology of sustain life within the soil. Deep Roots also utilizes cover crops and crop rotation, and they do minimal to no spraying. They utilize compost teas in the soil, which are the liquid versions of solid compost material and contain soluble plant nutrients to be absorbed into the soil more quickly and with more efficiency. 

“It’s important to utilize regenerative farming practices because farms are the number one cause of a lot of the climate issues we’re experiencing,” Scott explained. “Large scale operations are very unsustainable. Too much carbon release out of the soil, pesticides and herbicides, pollution in the waterways – we’re trying to prevent all of that. Sustainability is a big part of what we’re doing.” 

Another element of Deep Roots’ sustainability is keeping their food within a 100 mile radius of the farm. This keeps their ecological footprint low when it comes to transporting the food and traveling.

Wholesaling is a big part of Deep Roots’ business, so right now, the crew is focused on harvesting, processing, and packing produce for wholesale. Deep Roots wholesales to families and restaurants throughout Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster, Dutchess, and Columbia counties. 

They sell at two Westchester farmers markets each week – John Jay Homestead in Katonah and TaSH Market in Tarrytown – and also have a weekly CSA drop off at multiple locations throughout Westchester county and on the farm in Copake.

Their CSA program offers a seasonal box of produce each week throughout the growing season. Because Deep Roots grows such a wide array of fruits and vegetables, there’s virtually no double up on products from week to week. 

Each week, you can find some type of onion or garlic, a green, a salad, and a root in your CSA share. Additionally, Deep Roots sources blueberries and strawberries from Whistle Down Farm in Hudson to include in their CSA shares. 

“We’re focusing on vegetable production, so there’s a good diversity in the share, and people have responded really positively to the addition of the blueberries and strawberries. They like having some fruit in there, too,” Scott said. 

Scott also does the crop planning each year and typically decides what to plant based on the previous year’s sales and up front commitments. This year, they had a lot of up front commitments for watermelon and onions, so Deep Roots planted more of both crops than they have previously. 

“I thought I was going crazy this year with the crop planning, but I’m glad I planted so much,” Scott said. “We’re picking the whole crop and selling out of a lot of things. Last week, we sold almost 1,000 bunches of broccolini alone. It’s a gamble, but it’s definitely paid off this season.” 

Love what you do

In the near future, Scott and Stormie hope to have a farm store on the property where they can sell their produce and products from other local farms. 

Additionally, they are in the process of purchasing the land that they’re farming on. Long term, they plan to build housing for their family and their employees on the farm for ease and convenience. 

“We’re going to keep the scale at 50 acres because it’s a good number for our crew right now, but we’re looking to build more infrastructure.” 

While farming is no easy feat, Scott said that it is without a doubt, the most rewarding career he’s ever had. “We start these crops from seed, take care of them, harvest them, and package them. We’re seeing the full life of the plants that we’re growing,” he said. “That my kids get to grow up being around this and seeing it all, there’s nothing better than that.”

Even the tough parts of the job aren’t too bad and as Scott says, they always “push through it.”

“It’s like that saying, ‘you’ll never work a day in your life if you love what you do,’ and I love what I do.” 

To learn more about Deep Roots Farm, visit their website here and follow them on Instagram here