WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY WENDY HOBDAY HAUGH
The Johnson’s Family Farm Store and Café in Northville is the place to go for an impressive selection of fresh, homegrown produce, nutritious home-cooked foods, a delectable bakery, distinctive merchandise, rustic charm, and friendly service. Ten years ago, Anne-Marie and Bradley Johnson began selling their sustainably-grown produce, fresh from their farm in Hope, from a Saturday morning pop-up stand by an old bank in Northville. People arrived in droves to purchase the bountiful harvest and chat with the charming couple. Several of the Johnsons’ six children were always on hand too, eager to identify ‘mystery’ crops, offer advice on food prep, and handle transactions under the watchful eye of their homeschooling mom.
“At home, we’ve always cooked as a family,” Anne-Marie explains, “so the kids were happy to share different cooking tips with our customers.”
Bradley would sometimes pull out a musical instrument and serenade the crowd, often with the help of family members and musical friends who happened to drop by. In fact, one of their friends — Sawyer Fredericks, 2015 winner of ‘The Voice’ — used to follow the Johnsons from one farmers’ market to the next and perform solo for the crowd. He’d also show up regularly at the Johnsons’ home to jam with Brad.
“Brad is an amazing musician,” Anne-Marie beams. “He plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and drums. But he can pick up almost any instrument and just start playing.”
Years ago, Bradley discovered that taking short breaks from farming to play music among the crops not only revitalized him but stimulated the growth of the plants.
“It was incredible,” Anne-Marie recalls. “We could actually see the plants moving to the music.” As word got out, other musicians began dropping by for impromptu jam sessions in the fields. Some of Brad’s ‘Music from the Farm’ videos can be found on Facebook.
In 2014, Anne-Marie and Bradley took the plunge and opened their very own Johnson’s Family Farm Store at 132 N. Main Street, just a few doors down from their former pop-up site. In addition to selling their own produce and products made by other local tradespeople, the Johnsons’ store included a bakery section with regular and gluten-free options, Fair Trade coffees, teas, and chocolates, and countless homemade soups, salads, gourmet sandwiches, and healthy, made-to-order juices and smoothies.
If there’s one thing the Johnson family is known for, however, it’s GROWING! And in the spring of 2021, the industrious couple—with the help of their six kids, ages 13-22—expanded their business into a vacant diner in the adjacent building. By connecting the two storefronts, they gained additional shelf space, a much larger kitchen, and more eat-in table and counter space for patrons to enjoy the extensive offerings of their café menu. Today, the Johnson’s Family Farm Store & Café also carries a variety of specialty foods, bulk items, fine cheeses, Boar’s Head deli options, and local items made by more than 40 local producers, including grass-fed meats, honey, maple syrup, handmade gift items, and Johnson Family Farm Store T-shirts designed by artisan Melanie Fay.
And speaking of artwork . . . be sure to check out the store’s many wall murals! These colorful paintings reflect the Johnson family’s love of art in all its forms and bring the rustic walls to life with captivating scenes of dancing, farming, and summertime pursuits on Great Sacandaga Lake. Local artist Daniel Fay painted several of these eye-catching scenes, including the expansive lake mural located on the wall behind the café counter.
Each winter, the Johnsons offer folks the chance to sign up for their Farm Share Program, which guarantees participants a weekly box of farm-fresh produce from early June to mid-October, along with a 10% discount on most store products. Farm share programs ensure support for local farming efforts while providing members with nutritious, homegrown foods. Anne-Marie and Brad encourage people, wherever they live, to help bolster local farming and food production by seeking out and supporting similar programs in their own communities.
With the holidays just around the corner, the Johnson’s Family Farm Store & Café can be your ‘one stop shopping’ for all kinds of festive foods. You can pre-order free-range turkeys as well as holiday cookie platters, pies, and specialty goods made by Smith’s Orchard Bake Shop, Oh Crumbs, and Johnson Family Farm Baked Goods.
When it comes to effectively and joyfully fusing sustainable farming, fine food, great music, and community spirit, the Johnson’s Family Farm Store & Café in Northville has its own special sauce. But the Johnsons are quick to credit their community for their ongoing success.
“This has been a huge team effort,” Anne-Marie insists. “All of this growth became possible, and has happened, thanks to all of the love and support of our community. We are thankful and blessed to be serving you! Ten years . . . and still growing.”
The Johnson’s Family Store is open year-round:
132 N. Main St., Northville | 518-863-3262
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