Gayle Thorpe owns and manages Thorpe’s Organic Family Farm with her husband, Mike, their six children, and their grandchildren. The farm rests on 2,300 acres of certified organic land in East Aurora, New York and supports a CSA serving more than 350 members. The CSA is in its 14th year, and there are summer and winter programs with both packages that fit large and small families.
The Winter CSA is supported by the Thorpe’s farmland in Florida, which allows Gayle and her family to provide citrus and berries in the cold months, along with the kale, leeks, and Brussels sprouts from New York, which are certified organic by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.
In addition to the produce, the CSA offers baked bread made from the farm’s very own grains (which they also sell), along with canned goods and meats like beef and pork. From the start, sustainable farming was the only way to go for Gayle. It’s more than just growing organically without chemical pesticides and fertilizers; she believes in nurturing the soil.
That’s something she and Mike have been doing a lot of since acquiring the farmland in Florida. In the past, the land was not organically farmed, so they are working through a three-year period before their Hamlin oranges can become certified organic, advertising the oranges as “transitional” Hamlins.
Gayle has learned how to weather the seasons, come early frost or even the loss of the old farmhouse where all six of her children were born, which burned down last year. She leans on her close-knit family and their faith: harvesting the seasons, sharing recipes with each other and their CSA members through the Thorpe’s Farm blog, and enjoying life on the farm.
“We're really excited to be farmers," she says. “The thought of raising your own animals and vegetables and grains, and being able to make a whole meal from things you grew...I just love being involved with making it thrive."