West Haven Farm was started by John and Jen Bokaer-Smith in 1992. Our 10 acre farm is Certified Organic by NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC, and is located on a beautiful hill two miles from downtown Ithaca, NY on the land of EcoVillage at Ithaca. The land we farm is protected by a permanent conservation easement so we can continue producing food here indefinitely without pressure from development (through the Finger Lakes Land Trust).
We market all of our produce directly to consumers through the Ithaca Farmers' Market, local stores and restaurants. We have Ithaca's longest running Community Supported Agriculture program (since 1992), but we are taking a break from the CSA for 2017 to focus on soil building and farm improvements. We have never been interested in putting our produce in a box and shipping it to unknown people in far-away places—we value the relationships we cultivate with those who eat the food we grow, and feel good about knowing the people for whom we grow food.
Being so close to Ithaca allows us to provide a multitude of educational experiences on the farm, and we regularly host tours of school children, college students, and local, regional, and international farmers. (See our education page.)
How We Farm
We grow organically because we believe that the healthiest farm ecosystems should mimic the resiliency and diversity of natural ecosystems. We rely on compost and cover crops to feed our living soil, which in turn provides our crops with gentle, healthy nutrition. We don't use bagged chemical fertilizers which over time degrades the soil and contaminates our water supply. Just as the healthiest human diets are based on whole foods instead of supplements, we believe that plants too should be given a balanced and healthy environment in which to thrive.
Our pest control depends first on recruiting the good bugs who are naturally abundant in a healthy, non-poisoned system. We also use row covers to prevent unwanted pests from gaining access to some crops, and judiciously use biological and botanical controls to moderate insect and disease problems. Weeds are prevented from competing with our crops through the use of cultivation rather than chemicals. Our attention to good crop rotations and field practices ties it all together by getting plants the nutrition when they need it, breaking pest, disease and weed cycles, minimizing erosion, and maintaining long-term soil health.