Robin Sue Ostfeld, mother, wife, organic farmer, agricultural research collaborator, constant reader, and orchid lover, died the morning of August 26th on the farm she and her husband, Llywolaf Johns, established in Lodi, New York nearly 30 years ago. Blue Heron Farm has become an institution in the Finger Lakes and beyond. Their produce, plants and flowers are enjoyed at the Ithaca Farmers Market; Greenstar Co-op; many local restaurants as well as Park Slope Food Co-op and Angelica Kitchen in New York City. Robin, a woman of incisive wit and conviction, was loved by those who knew her—friends, customers, col-leagues, and co-workers alike. She worked tirelessly on the farm, performing the daily tasks required by the season, and handled the business of the farm with an abundance of insight, generosity and creativity. Blue Heron Farm will continue to operate under the leadership of Lou and the current farm manager, Zach-ary Kaplan-Moss, supported by a committed crew of workers.
Robin, she was my partner, my lover, my friend, my beauty queen
She was nearly perfect, she took care of me, she washed my clothes, she taught me to brush my teeth, she took me on vacations, she loved her dogs, she loved family, probably in that order
She put up with me, she didn’t like messes, but made a few and always cleaned them up
She was an extraordinary farmer, an original environmentalist, strictly organic, she wanted the world to be better
She loved plants, mostly raspberries, she found the seeds for your flowers, your tomatoes, your lettuce, and on and on, she bought the seeds, she bought the potting mix and the flats, she started all of them in her greenhouse and germination chamber in the dead of winter
I kept the fire to keep them warm.
She scheduled all the plantings for the greenhouses and the fields, pages and pages of it, for nearly thirty years, she planted your spinach, your beets, your ru-tabagas, she helped with everything, she smiled a lot
She sold it all, to her friends and customers here at the Farmers’ Market, to Green Star, and Park Slope Food Coop, and to our friends and chefs at local restau-rants.
She ran the business, I helped, and many others got to share the experience
She was good at it, just didn’t care much for the bookkeeping end of things, but she did it none the less, she liked counting money
We worked a lot, we didn’t take enough breaks, we thought there would be more later
She was nice to people, and loved to gossip, she was nice to me, I could have been nicer
She was a mentor to many, she was a standard setter for all of us, she always demanded the best, including our behavior, and she was fiercely competitive
She made every one work hard, along side her
She was mostly self taught, a voracious reader, fiction was her preferred realm, her window to the world and a distraction from it,
She was the most wonderful mother to our two daughters, even after losing her first at age 15, I held her hand a lot, and she mine
Robin didn’t do sick very well, there was no announcing her illness, don’t take offense if she kept it from you, she was hopeful for a long time and stoic for the rest
She was marvelous, we will miss her
— Lou Johns