(BROOKLYN, N.Y.) — It was a blustery, grey Saturday afternoon at the Prospect Park farmers market as Grace Galanti started taking inventory of her products. The market was coming to a close and she had started packing up her booth. The banner tied to the back of the pop-up tent caught the breeze and threatened to take the tent, and Galalnti’s products, tumbling down Flatbush Avenue.
Galanti is the owner of a small business, Furnace Creek Farm, in Oley Valley, Pennsylvania. But running a farm and small business wasn’t originally her plan.
Galanti received her Bachelor of Science degree in herbal sciences from Bastyr University. She had planned on following the practitioner route and becoming a doctor of naturopathic medicine, but having a son by then, she decided to go down a more family-oriented route, she said.
Having a farm and children would be the best way to start that route Galanti though. But, that isn’t what happened. “So I ended up getting divorced,” she said with a laugh, “that whole plan went out the window.”
She then thought to herself, “How am I going to support myself and my son and this property?”
“I just started growing things, making products, and going to my local farmer’s market,” she said. Galanti was able to combine her lifelong love for nature, knowledge of herbal sciences, and need to support her family into her small business. She used her experience in school to focus her business on environmentally friendly, hands-on practices and methods of production.
No chemicals are used in the growing or processing of Furnace Creek Farm’s products, all of which is done in-house according to Galanti. Once the herbs start growing, “we harvest it, bring it into the kitchen, and then we start preserving things, extracting into honey, vinegar, and alcohol,” said Galanti over car horns and someone playing the drums at the market.
Galanti will then take the extracted vinegars, honeys, and alcohols and mix them to make her products. Some of her more popular products are her line of Vitality Vinegars, which come in different flavors such as borage seed and flower, lemon basil, and tulsi. Other products, like candied elecampane and ashwagandha powder, are also available at her shop.
After Galanti’s products gained popularity at her local farmers market in Pennsylvania, she started to set up shop at Greenmarket in New York. Galanti loves working at farmers’ markets because of the personal connections she makes with customers on a daily basis.
“I’m really able to understand what people are looking for,” she said, “what they need, what their questions are, and then immediately respond to that.”
Understanding people is one of Grace’s “superpowers” according to farmworker Melanie Pomeratz. She said she loves working at Furnace Creek Farm because of the extraordinary people there.
Greenmarket Farmers Markets are run by Grow NYC, an organization aimed at improving the lives of New Yorkers through environmental programs. The Greenmarket Farmers Markets is one of four programs Grow NYC runs to bring the community closer to nature.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t slowed Galanti’s business as much as it could have. Since Furnace Creek Farm’s products are already in closed containers no one has to touch them, “not like a tomato where everybody has to squeeze it.”
“COVID is incredibly awful, but we are constantly adapting and changing to keep our farms going,” Galanti said adding that the pandemic has increased how much people pay attention to their health.
“Our products are really in demand right now,” she said. “I think that there is a whole new level of awareness for what food and herbs can do.”