Down on the Farm

For their soon-to-be-published book, Hudson River Valley Farms, author Joanne Michaels and photographer Rich Pomerantz visited more than 40 dairy, produce, fruit, and flower farms between Westchester and Albany. Here are profiles of 10 of these farms — and their farmers — taken from the text




(page 7 of 10)

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

Pocantico Hills, Westchester County

The entire scene is reminiscent of an idyllic farm from another age. But a closer look reveals this picturesque operation has successfully meshed traditional agricultural practices with modern technologies, including a computer-monitored greenhouse environment and movable electric fencing. The cart we rode in was powered by biodiesel made from kitchen grease processed with methane and lye.

Fruit and vegetable manager Jack Algiere oversees six acres with amazingly diverse crops including lettuce, celery, carrots, fennel, beets, chard, spinach, onions, leeks, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bean sprouts, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, corn, beans, melons, sunflowers, and grapes. And what about controlling pests? “I’m there the day they show up, and I just pick them off by hand,” Jack said. “I walk the entire property daily and notice everything — what is ripening, what needs weeding, but also what insects are arriving.”

The farmers work with the environment rather than resist nature: Two hundred varieties of produce are generated year-round without using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The only addition to the soil is “black gold” compost, a pathogen-free mixture of leaves, grass clippings, livestock manure, hay, and kitchen scraps from the popular on-site restaurant.

Next: Sprout Creek Farm in LaGrangeville

 

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