Click to View Latest IssueClick to View Latest Issue

Nancy Fuller Ginsberg

By  0 Comments

“My inspiration today is to be as happy and productive as I can possibly be,” she affirmed. “It’s to show my grandchildren that it matters to have manners; it matters to speak properly, to eat nutritionally, as best they can. And for the millions who watch Farmhouse Rules, I am inspired to make meals that will make those watching healthier and happier, whether it’s something quick and easy or a weekend cooking jam for the week to follow. It’s to show kindness and goodness and love and warmth. I am inspired by these emotions and thoughts and ideas.”

Fuller living, fuller loving, fuller eating, fuller family time—those are some of the focuses of Nancy Fuller, host of the delightful Food Network show Farmhouse Rules, which was just renewed for its third season. Nancy is the Fuller Farmer, and she embraces this role gladly!

This warm, loving mother, who raised six children and is grandmother to 13, co-owns and operates Ginsberg Foods with her husband, David. The two live in an authentic 18th-century farmhouse on lovely rolling land in New York’s Hudson Valley region. The recipes, or “rules,” as they were called by cooks at the turn of the century, are delicious, simple meals from the heart. “I cherish cooking for others, and I am on a personal mission to put the family with their values and children back at the dinner table. This show focuses on farming families who have gleaned food from the land for generations,” Nancy explained. “It’s who I am; it’s what I do!”

Nancy was born and raised in Copake, New York, a little town in the southeast corner of Columbia County, about two hours north of Manhattan. “My grandmothers were the cooks. My father’s mother was a businesswoman, and my mother’s mother is who I remember the most. I remember her making toast fingers and dipping them in the yolk of a poached egg. My grandmother’s cousin, Grammy Carl, who had no children, was the best grandmother. We made every type cookie and cake imaginable. As soon as I was old enough, I would ride my horse to her farm, which was near us, every Saturday and Sunday. She would have a full breakfast ready for me,” she smiled. “She was always in the kitchen. She cooked the best chicken, coleslaw and creamed potatoes ever. She was the epitome of the farm wife, and probably the woman who most influenced me. She was every girl’s dream grandmother.”

Nancy outgrew the farm life in 1963, when she attended Buxton School in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She found her niche there, when she was the proctor of the dorm and the head of the social committee. She graduated in 1967 and attended Santa Anna Junior College in California. “I didn’t like it, and I quit after the first year. I decided I was bored! That was the end of that. I just didn’t have the longing or inquisitive mind for that part of education,” she insisted.

She left California, moved back to New York and eventually married a dairy farmer, going back to her roots. With eight people around the dinner table, it was a dinner party seven nights a week, which led to the purchase of a 1950s motel that she converted into a hotel/restaurant. It was a country restaurant with an old inn atmosphere. Catering became her forte, which led to the necessity of a larger building, and Columbia Golf and Country Club dining facilities were for lease. With that lease came a transition into a new life.

“It was during that time in my life when I met David Ginsberg,” she smiled. “David and I married in 1997, and he preferred that I not work weekends. I preferred to go antiquing! In 2006, David’s brother, Ira, chose to retire, which allowed me to invest in Ginsberg Foods, the largest independent food distribution company in the Hudson Valley. Ginsberg Foods celebrated 100 years in 2009. David’s grandfather opened a butcher shop in Hudson, New York, in 1909. That was the impetus for what we are today. We employ 250 people, service a radius of 250 miles and carry 8,000 items.”

“And then I turned 65, and with that came a new career,” she joked. “I wasn’t ready to retire, but the younger generation was our succession at Ginsberg’s Foods and they wanted their day at the wheel, so David and I attempted to step back. David still puts his tie on and goes to the office seven days a week. Of course, the ties are not every day because there is this game called golf!”

Nancy continued her inspiring story of being discovered: “I was home working on a Hudson Valley Bounty project when a friend stopped by with her production company. She wanted to be filmed asking me a question in an authentic farmhouse and after, walk out on our corn field. And she did just that, all on film. When the producer asked me if I had ever done television, I laughed and said no. He said, ‘You’re so natural at it.’ I said, ‘No, I’m 63 and fat!’ The rest, as they say, is history.”

Nancy is the daughter of a farmer with 13 generations of farmers’ wives before her. She spent her childhood on the farm with a garden the size of a parking lot. She followed suit and married a farmer herself. “I cooked, as did the 13 wives before me. And as a result of my heritage, Farmhouse Rules was born,” she related.

Farmhouse Rules is show she hopes will showcase her love for her husband, David, her children, grandchildren and friends and the recipes that have followed her 65 years of being in a kitchen. “With current twists and modern methods, I try to honor the farmers I grew up with who worked 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I try to showcase the folks who have moved to this area and support our town and valley,” she explained. “And most importantly, I hope to make people smile!”

Farmhouse Rules is on the Food Network. The third season premiere will air September 14 at 12:30 p.m. EST. Currently, you can see reruns on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and Mondays at 5:30 p.m. Nancy loves the collective effort, and has a lot of fun with each show’s theme. For example, her producer will call her and say, “Would you fly in a biplane?” and Nancy will respond, “Oh, well, sure!” or he may call and ask, “Can you milk a cow?” and again, she will say, “Why, sure.”

“I ended up shooting skeet, and shot two out of six. I was Marie Antoinette when we filmed the Halloween show! It is so interesting and entertaining. Every day is different, and it’s fun coming up with the episodes,” she confirmed. “My mission is to showcase people who have worked their whole lives in the farming industry. I grew up with a lot of these people on my family farm, and now their children have come back to the farm and started milking cows to make cheese. There are so many wonderful stories like that, such as the dairy farm that is now converted into a vegetable farm, Holmquest Farm in Claverack, outside Hudson, and the Hudson-Chatham Winery, where owner Dominique DeVito planted one thousand plants to harvest grapes. We feature these people.”

Nancy’s three personal go-to recipes are roasted chicken with fresh vegetables; rack of lamb with olive oil, garlic, onion and fresh rosemary; and fish stew with sautéed onion and garlic, basil, white fish, scallops, shrimp and mussels. When the HERLIFE production team shot Nancy for the cover, she, of course, fed them an elegant yet simple-to-make arugula salad with leftovers from dinner the night before. She graciously shares this recipe with readers. She is also writing her own blog on her website and enjoys writing about many topics.

Where did the name Fuller Farmer originate? In her jovial, happy way, she explained, “Fuller is my maiden name, and I’m a big woman, so I’m kind of making a joke about Fuller Farmer. The name Farmhouse Rules comes from my Grammy Carl, who had an old cookbook, an old spinal-bound covered book from years ago. She had her recipes in that book, with old fashioned names such as Myra’s Rule, Inez’s Rule and Mama’s Rule. Rule meant recipe. Rules have three connotations: rigid, and oh, that rules means that’s great, and then of course, recipes are rules of measurement.”

Nancy was recently honored to be nominated for the cherished Locavore Award. The Victoria A. Simons Locavore Award was established in memory of Simons, the long-time editor of The Independent Newspaper, the first executive director of Columbia County Bounty, and the first woman to serve on the board of the annual Columbia County Fair in Chatham. Up to three awards, each consisting of a plaque and a stipend of $1,000, are made annually to recognize outstanding vision and accomplishment in expanding the availability, quantity, quality or distribution of local foods reaching local mouths. “Vicki was a close friend,” Nancy reflected. “On her deathbed she said, ‘I know you can throw a party! You need to keep this local movement going.’ This meant the Chili Contest, the Taste of the Bounty, and the desire to make the local Columbia County Bounty become the Hudson Valley Bounty. She was such a pioneer of so much good! I miss her. So, I was nominated this year! It’s like the Emmys or the Oscars. It’s a privilege to be nominated even if you don’t win. My feelings are those of joy, gratitude and accomplishment. I try to give back. I’m blessed and I’m honored to receive this nomination.”

Nancy’s spirit rises from within her emotional core. “My inspiration today is to be as happy and productive as I can possibly be,” she affirmed. “It’s to show my grandchildren that it matters to have manners; it matters to speak properly, to eat nutritionally, as best they can. And for the millions who watch Farmhouse Rules, I am inspired to make meals that will make those watching healthier and happier, whether it’s something quick and easy or a weekend cooking jam for the week to follow. It’s to show kindness and goodness and love and warmth. I am inspired by these emotions and thoughts and ideas.”

Nancy Fuller Ginsberg is quite charitable in her community, supporting the Community Hospice of Columbia/Green and the Columbia Memorial Hospital. She has chaired the gala for Hospice and for more than 20 years she has held a seat on the hospital foundation board. In addition she supports the Hudson Valley Bounty and several local organizations.

This loving grandmother shares words of wisdom gleaned from her life experiences. “My advice to those who dream would be to first and foremost get an education. I told my children when they started college it would be to a four-year school, and it would be to the best school they could get into. I was a lucky lady—they were all smart and had a work ethic. They all had to contribute financially because it was necessary and I felt if they had skin in the game it would mean more to them. They didn’t quite agree with that and still don’t, but they all graduated from four-year colleges and some went on to get their master’s degrees, and one is in the throes of getting her PhD. Ain’t too bad for a farmer! Secondly, don’t marry anyone that you don’t respect. And don’t be in a hurry to get married. Live alone for at least a year after college and know who you are. Think! And, most importantly, follow your heart and listen to your gut. Do what makes you happy. Think about what would make you happy and let that be your plan and your goal.”

It’s safe to say that Miss Nancy will be cooking up fresh farm foods for years to come, and sharing her loving family philosophy with viewers worldwide. We can’t wait to see her shine!

To learn more about Nancy and her recipes, visit or