A Modern Family Farm
Fashion editor and stylist Laura Ferrara spends the week scouting, sourcing, and assembling the ingredients for stunning images. Her sharp eye shapes the look of magazine covers, runway shows, and advertising campaigns. But on most weekends she can be found on the farm: Westwind Orchard, a 32-acre working apple orchard and farm in the Hudson River Valley hamlet of Accord, New York. Here, along with her husband, fashion photographer Fabio Chizzola, and their teenaged son, Matteo, she is part of a community whose pace and priorities differ sharply from those of her day job yet offers its own creative challenges, and is the source of endless discoveries and fruitful collaborations
“When I got into fashion—I was a marketing and business major—I didn’t even know there were careers in fashion. It happened organically,” says Ferrara, who was born in Italy and raised in Brooklyn. “It’s the same thing here. You get into something because you just love it, not because you’re thinking ahead.” The couple purchased the property in 2002 for its charming stone farmhouse, planning to rent the land to local farmers. They soon found that years of neglect had left the hundreds of apple trees overgrown and unable to produce good fruit.
Chizzola, born and raised in Italy, decided to take matters into his own hands: reading books on apple growing, attending conferences, and tapping into a network of local growers. “For six years we just chopped down, cleaned up, chopped down, cleaned up, and then in 2008, we opened up for people to come and pick their own apples,” he says. “We had a bumper crop.”
The deliberate renovations continued, and Chizzola slowly expanded his plantings to include pears, raspberries, garlic, grapes, and winter squash (“now we do a whole variety, from butternut to delicata to weird pumpkins and gourds”). A flock of chickens arrived. In the winter downtime, he added honeybee hives, began tapping the trees for maple syrup, and started transforming blocks of wood from the orchard’s trees into smooth boards for cutting and serving.