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Missy Singer Dumars: Sowing Seeds of Flavor

Photo credits: Andrea Wenglowskyj 

Shopping at local grocery stores or markets, we have increasing options for conventional and organic produce. However, heirloom vegetables remain elusive to the public. Grown from seeds saved each year, heirlooms are usually open pollinated and will look exactly as their parent plant did, often tracing their heritage back hundreds of years. They also have superior taste!

To Missy Singer Dumars, visionary behind the 13-acre Crown Hill Farm, just south of Buffalo, heirlooms are food that is “fun to cook, fun to eat, or interesting on a plate.” Missy remembers pulling a carrot out of the garden, hosing it off and biting into it, never having tasted a vegetable like it before. As she describes it, the food is still alive, and the flavor has not yet begun to fade.

Owning or operating a farm was never on Missy’s radar. Growing up with a three-generation furniture retail business, she attended college for rabbinical studies and television production, dabbled in project management in Las Vegas, massage therapy in Hawaii, and then business consulting in Colorado. Through her myriad West coast experiences, Missy developed a close connection to the land, discovering farm stands and farm markets, starting to understand and appreciate where food comes from and becoming interested in holistic, conscientious living.

Living in the high desert of Colorado where water rights posed a challenge, Missy and her husband at the time decided to seek a house with land to pursue their dreams of deepening their relationship with food. An urban farmer friend in Toronto helped turn their focus to the northeast where organic was an up-and-coming market, offered affordable properties, a temperature similar to Colorado, and water in ample supply.

Crown Hill Farm in Eden piqued their interest. The pair arrived during the corn festival weekend in August and in just a few days, while exploring the countryside, the Buffalo music scene, and attending farm-to-table restaurants, they were ready to make an offer. Soon they were pulling up the driveway through the fall foliage on Halloween day after a cross-country drive from Colorado.

Over the past few years, building her own community, Missy says she has leaned on the farm for healing, saying, “I cried a lot of tears into the soil, I cried lots of anger into the soil, lots of joy into the soil, lots of gratefulness and gratitude.”

Missy has embraced the bigger vision of the farm as a destination for tours and educational events, allowing people to access food diversity and connect with the land. She is committed to letting the place reveal the vision to her.

Crown Hill Farm Highlights

  • It’s a no-till farm, with no large machinery except a lawn mower tractor she uses to pull around a cart. All vegetables are hand-tended.

  • Growing heirloom vegetables takes time! The first season of a new vegetable starts with a small patch and the second year yields enough to sell. It’s a process observing how plants grow.

  • Edible flowers begin to flourish as Missy collaborates with bakers and chefs to use edible flowers in their baked goods and dishes.

  • Missy hosts interns from Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) who learn about seed selection, gardening, and garden planning. Missy herself is self-taught, asking lots of questions as she goes, and attending mentorship programs for animals and Cornell classes. In turn, she shares that love of learning with others, helping them create their own sources of open pollination!

  • Other specialty products from her farm include soy-free pasture-raised eggs and natural dye yarns. Her livestock includes chickens, ducks, and geese as well as a flock of seven sheep. Missy sends the sheep fleece to a small fiber mill in Pennsylvania where it is spun into yarn. Last year she had 9 fleeces yield 140 skeins of mixed weight and size yarn. She then hand-dyes the yarn with natural plant materials from around the farm, such as marigold, onion skins, and other flowers and plants. Missy also forages goldenrod and walnuts and uses fruit bark given to her by friends and avocado pits from cafes.

  • Relationship-based business drives Missy’s farming and culinary enterprise, collaborating with local chefs with full creative permission at the farm-to-table dinners held at Crown Hill Farm, and working with restaurants for wholesale of her unique food products. She believes in cutting to order, focusing on chefs, restaurants, and CSAs.

  • Relationship awareness also fostered her partnership on the Women in Food Festival, in its second year at Crown Hill Farm this year. The event brings together women of various food backgrounds, such as chefs, farmers, food makers, writers, advocates, and restaurateurs. Women in Food began with in-person dinners, pairing women chefs with women farmers, and turned into an online cooking class due to COVID.

  • After 2020, Missy continued the concept with The Women in Food podcast ( exploring the intersection between food, business, and the feminine.

For more information on Crown Hill Farm, visit or follow them on IG at @crownhillfarmny.

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