At first, the logic of Forbes March’s career path can be a little hard to follow. “From Hollywood to firewood,” is how the Nova Scotia native puts it. After years spent modeling in Europe and New York, he worked in film and television, becoming known for a recurring role on the popular soap “One Life to Live.” He discovered Sullivan County on a family camping trip and returned for the fly-fishing whenever he needed to decompress from his acting gigs. Eventually, he bought a house in Jeffersonville and took refuge there when the recession hit along with his Italian wife, Vanessa, and their two kids, Marina, 15, and Peter, 8.
About a year into his new life, March got into the firewood business, splitting, kiln-drying and packaging hardwood for a discerning urban clientele. (He earned his upstate street cred by accidentally chopping off a finger.) “The Catskills are situated 90 miles from what is arguably the largest consumer market in the world,” he says, “and in Manhattan you can sell anything if it’s the best.” His gorgeous wares can be found in the hearths of Roosevelts and Williamsburg hipsters, and he also counts 70 city restaurants as year-round clients.
He earned his upstate street cred by accidentally chopping off a finger.
Waking up to a beautiful view of rolling hills is one sweet reward of living on eight pristine acres, and March waxes lyrical about the neighbor’s cows crossing the field every morning and again at dusk. But he’s fully aware of the back-breaking work that goes into that kind of farming. Most years, he’s trying out some new scheme of his own. Once it was growing thousands of tomatoes; then he raised 5,000 organic meat chickens. Now, his son Peter is getting into the game with an egg business.
March describes the Catskills as “the ultimate suburb,” again citing its proximity to New York City as a major advantage. But it’s his love of the Beaver Kill, the fact that he and Peter can catch catfish in the creek at the bottom of his road, and favorite local hangouts like the Dancing Cat Saloon and Benji & Jake’s—“where kids try (and hopefully fail) to catch turtles off that little pier”—that make him loyal to the area.
“I’m not here for the winters,” he laughs. Aside from the bucolic scenery and the bountiful rivers, he’s in it for the entrepreneurial opportunities. For his next project, March is looking into raising organic shrimp. And aquafarmer just might be the perfect role for him.