Main Street Farms was founded in 2011 by Allan Gandelman with the help of his friend and college roommate, Bob Cat. They met in 1999 while attending SUNY New Paltz.
Allan studied Anthropology and got his Master in Education before moving to Cortland, NY to teach High School Social Studies. Bob Cat studied communication and media. He worked in Radio, Film, Landscaping, Construction, and Outdoor Environmental Education before moving to the area to help Allan start the farm.
While they were teaching, they both saw first hand the importance of nutrition and the role it played in how we feel, think, and act. That’s when they knew not only did they want to grow delicious and nutritious food for themselves, but also wanted to share this knowledge with their community.
Allan began experimenting with Aquaponics systems, raising fish and plants in a symbiotic relationship. After building a system in a friends barn, another friend told him about a former plant nursery that was for sale in Homer. He bought the old Smith Gardens and started Main Street Farms. Shortly after, Bob Cat moved to Homer to help him and the rest is history.
The Homer Years
Allan started with a plant nursery, selling veggie starts to gardeners. Not only did this help with a quick injection of some cash, but it continued the tradition of the site which had been a plant nursery for decades. When Bob Cat arrived, they quickly got to work building a new greenhouse and large Aquaponics system.
They spend the first year growing a few crops in the existing greenhouses. Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers, and Basil went to the Homer Farmers Market and a few restaurants and stores around town. By year 2 they were raising Tilapia and growing greens year round. They soon found some more land to grow more crops. In year 3, they started an Urban Farm on South Ave, right in the middle of the City of Cortland, built their first high tunnel (unheated greenhouse) and started their first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program with 12 members.
In year 4, they got access to more land (Sherman Rd and Webb Rd in Cortland and Song Lake Rd in Preble), got mechanized with their first tractor and started vending at the Syracuse Regional Market. By year 5, they were farming 6 different properties around Cortland County (Rt 281 in Homer, South Ave, Webb Rd, Jeffery Ln, and Sherman Rd in Cortland, and a small plot up a Reed Seeds) and grew their CSA to 150 members. We had started to outgrow all these properties and it was time for us to find a new home.
In 2015, a mutual friend introduced them to Don Reed, the owner of Reeds Seeds on Rt 215 in Cortland. Don is a legendary cabbage seed breeder and was ready to retire. He farm is over 200 acres and has been in his family for over 200 years. This was a perfect fit for all of us. And the views are absolutely breathtaking.
We started small with just a few acres and now we farm 60 acres at Reeds Seeds, as we continue to transition more land to be certified Organic. In addition to land access, we have benefited from a lot of existing infrastructure at Reeds Seeds. Barns, Greenhouses, Offices, and more.
In 2017, we were one of the first farms in NY to get a license to grow Hemp. Not only do we grow it, but we also process it in our own lab (with our sister company, New York Hemp Oil), make CBD products in house, and sell it through our own brand, Head & Heal.
In 2020, we purchased the Early Morning Farm and expanded our business. We increased our CSA and started selling at the Ithaca Farmers Market. We also decided to collaborate with our good friends at Shared Roots Farm and Bret Morris became our farm manager.
In 2021, we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary. We can’t wait to see what the next 10 years has in store for our farm. What started out as just 2 friends now employs over 40 people in our community! Thank you for supporting our farm family.