Johnson’s Meadowbrook Stock Farm
Farming in Thurman was not restricted to the banks of the Hudson. Small family farms dotted the countryside, and even as late as the 1950s, much of the land was cleared and cross-fenced. But most of these farms were best suited for small backyard farming operations, and few operated in any commercial capacity. One of the earliest and largest, however, still flourishes today at the north end of Thurman. The Johnson family founded a farm near Crane Mountain (also known as “Kenyontown) in 1792. Generations of Johnsons owned this farm with buildings located at what is now 484 South Johnsburg Road. In its early years, this farm sprawled over nearly 400 acres. The Johnsons raised breeding stock, and their operation was known as Meadowbrook Stock Farm. They held part ownership of some businesses in Warrensburg, as well. The last of the Johnsons was Jacob, who transferred title to his in-laws, the Crandalls. Over the years, many parcels were sold off and the farm changed hands again. The farm fell dormant in the 1930s, when the R.J. Sweet Co. bought the remaining land and rented out the home.
In the history of this farm many parcels were sold, and some donated. When Raynald Hébert and his first wife bought the property in 1976 to begin subsistence farming there, it had shrunk to fifty acres. After a divorce, Hebert and his second wife Laurie Goodhart built a herd of goats and began marketing goat cheese, using the name “Nettle Meadow Farm.” In July 2005 Sheila Flanagan and Lorraine Lambiase bought the farm, increasing the herd from fifty goats to three hundred goats and forty sheep. Cheese production has more than tripled, yielding 75,000 pounds in 2010-11. They make many types of fresh chevre and four semi-aged cheeses, and market Nettle Meadow cheeses across the country.
A few other farms continue to operate, albeit on a smaller scale, raising some meat to use, some to sell, and lots of vegetables. Most Thurman fields have grown up to forests, and some of those are now Certified Tree Farms, one with a sawmill, carefully managed to maximize the long-term productivity of the woods. Thurman also has numerous maple producers who also guard the health of their sugarbushes by utilizing environmentally sound practices. Three of the largest host open houses in March, to welcome the public for tours and demonstrations. They rank among the largest in Warren County.