When 9/11 happened, Marc and Susan Jaffe lived and worked in downtown New York City. In the aftermath of the tragedy, they decided that city life was not for them any longer, and they picked up their growing family and moved to their weekend home in the Catskills. Leaving behind careers in technology and business development, they decided they would become farmers, making the rural town of Livingston Manor, New York, their permanent home. Since their 80-acre land is essentially on the side of a mountain, the soil wasn’t conducive to growing much of anything—except livestock.
“I went to the Cornell extension office in our county, and they walked me through the options. Until then, I hadn’t even thought of livestock as farming,” Marc said. “I grew up on the Upper East Side. It was all a bit improbable.”
Marc set off to visit other farms in the area, working on a variety of livestock farms for about a month. Snowdance Farm started with a batch of chickens. “The thing is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Our first batch was all 10 pounds. We didn’t know when to pull the trigger,” he said.
Over time, Marc and Susan Jaffe figured it out, though. They started to add variety to their livestock—goats (easy to put in the back of a pick up and take to the vet if something went wrong), feeders (small, weaned pigs), heritage-breed pigs (which is what they have now), and eventually Red Angus cattle. That original small batch of chickens has turned into 1,000s, as Snowdance produces 200-500 chickens per week now.
“I was always interested in food, but until somewhat recently, it was only for my mouth,” Marc explained about his journey with food. “Now I’m interested in food for my body.”
Marc and Susan have discovered the health benefits of local, pastured meat—and we are excited to partner with them, as MOD can now benefit from their amazing work. Marc and Susan welcome visitors, so if you’re ever up in the Catskills, make sure to check out their farm. They would love to give you a tour.
Kate Marlow is a former English teacher turned writer. She lives in Greenwich, CT, with her husband, two children, and dachshund named Virgil.