Farm-Fresh Local Food: CSAs get flexible with new features like choose-your-own produce, special add-ons and sliding-scale prices.

 

local-a8da8b85

Education Manager Ellie Limpert in one of three high tunnels at Poughkeepsie Farm Project

When people join a CSA (community supported agriculture) program—paying a local farm up-front for a season-long supply of produce—everybody wins. The farm benefits from the early investment. Members benefit from the nutritious produce (typically fresh picked and chemical free). The local economy benefits, and so does the environment (no toxic pesticides or long-haul trucks).

Buying produce through a CSA can also be cost-effective, especially now that many farms offer flexible plans that allow customers to buy just what they need. Best of all, CSAs build relationships between farmers and the neighbors they feed. CSAs are about community above all else.

Planting season is here, which means CSA signups have begun. Here are a few local farms that offer CSA programs.

 

Fable: From Farm to Table
fableLocated in historic Ossining, Fable is a farm and food hub dedicated to sustainable agriculture. The farm grows produce using organic practices and has pasture-raised chickens its CSA members can meet and feed.

“We believe that through dedication, hard work and modern technological advancements in agriculture, we can provide the freshest produce all year round without the use of harmful pesticides,” says owner Tom Deacon.

Last year Fable introduced its new CSA Farm Card, “with great reviews,” Deacon says. CSA members purchase a Farm Card that they can spend like cash throughout the year in the farm’s market, choosing their own produce—as much or as little as they’d like—over the course of the growing season. Weekly selections are simply subtracted from their credit balance.

A CSA membership helps support the farm during the colder months, and allows us to prepare for an abundant spring and summer harvest,” Deacon says.

Cost: $250-$1,000 for a CSA Farm Card.

What’s included? With the Farm Card, CSA members can purchase any item in Fable’s Market, including produce, eggs, honey and milk. The market is open on weekends year-round, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Fable: From Farm to Table, 1311 Kitchawan Rd., Ossining, NY. Info: FableFoods.com.

 

Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard
harvest20moonHarvest Moon Farm and Orchard, a family-owned and -operated apple orchard in North Salem, grows a variety of stone fruits and vegetables that it sells in its Farm Store and through its CSA. The owners, first-generation farmers, have expanded their harvest every year since opening for business in 2011.

“We are passionate about what we do,” says CSA Manager Todd Stevens. “Simply put, our goal is to supply our community with the freshest produce possible, directly from the farmer.” Harvest Moon grows its food using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, which means that organic fertilizers and pest controls are used whenever possible. All of Harvest Moon’s produce is planted and harvested by hand.

Cost: $325-$810. Customers can choose between 13-week and 18-week seasons, and half- or full-bushel shares.

What’s included? Produce typically available includes lettuce, chard, spinach, kale, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, melons, peppers, beets, corn, onions, squashes, apples, eggplant and potatoes. Each box includes a dozen farm-fresh eggs, and fresh-pressed sweet cider as available. CSA add-ons include milk, cheese and/or beef shares. A flower add-on includes a fresh, farm-grown bouquet every week for 12 weeks.

Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard, 130 Hardscrabble Rd., North Salem, NY. Info: 914.485.1210, HarvestMoonFarmAndOrchard.com.

 

Poughkeepsie Farm Project
projectPoughkeepsie Farm Project—a 12-acre organic farm whose produce is Certified Naturally Grown—has been connecting food, farm and community for 20 years.

“Not only are we a CSA operating on an urban farm, but we also annually donate 20 percent of our harvest to emergency food providers in the Hudson Valley,” says Ray Armater, executive director. “So in addition to supporting local, small-scale farming, our CSA members are also supporting the organization’s greater mission in the region.”

The farm’s flexible CSA model allows members to select their share size and the items in their share. They can also work with the farm crew for a discounted share, and go out into the fields to pick their own flowers, berries, cherry tomatoes, herbs, hot peppers and other produce. “Pick-your-own allows members and their families to engage with the farm, and it’s a great way for kids to get hands-on with helping to harvest and taste,” Armater says.

The CSA is unique in the amount of flexibility and choice it offers while still staying true to a traditional CSA model, he adds. Members can select 5 or 10 items from a choice of 14 to 20 different items each week. Produce is arranged farmers market-style, and is always harvested fresh and at peak ripeness for maximum nutrition and flavor.

Cost: $445-$885 for a weekly whole or half share (generally 12 to 18 pounds) for a 23-week season. Discounts for work share option.

What’s included? Produce throughout the season, with fruit shares available July through November and the option to purchase locally raised, grass-fed beef from Back Paddock Farm.

Poughkeepsie Farm Project, 51 Vassar Farm Ln., Poughkeepsie, NY. Info: 845.516.1100, FarmProject.org.

 

Ryder Farm
ryderCSA members at Ryder Farm, in Brewster, are helping support one of the oldest organic farms on the East Coast, as well as the larger mission of SPACE on Ryder Farm, a residency program for artists and activists. SPACE, which now oversees farm operations, will host a special “happy hour” pickup party for the first pickup of each month at the farm, where CSA members can mingle with each other and SPACE’s resident artists. A new, sliding-scale CSA has been introduced to ensure memberships are accessible to everyone in the community.

“We recognize that not everyone has access to the monetary resources to receive good, fresh food, but together with our CSA members, we have the capacity to make this possible,” says Farm Manager Doug DeCandia. “So starting this year, with our sliding scale membership, folks who can pay more do, while folks who cannot, pay what they can.”

Cost: $320-$1,150 for weekly or every other week shares, which can be picked up at Ryder Farm or in New York City. Sliding-scale price options available.

What’s included? Organic herbs and vegetables “from A to Z,” plus art created by friends and alumni of SPACE’s artist residency programs.

Ryder Farm, 406 Starr Ridge Rd., Brewster, NY. Info: 646.833.8159, SpaceOnRyderFarm.org/farm.

 

 

 

Fable to Hold Winter Farm Fest in Ossining

farmfest

Kristin and Tom Deacon with son Tucker

Fable: From Farm to Table, in Ossining, will hold its Winter Farm Fest on December 9. Guests can buy local crafts and food, feed the farm’s free-range chickens and take horse and carriage rides while enjoying a festive winter atmosphere. Owners Tom and Kristin Deacon say the festival will include many of the vendors who’ve attended previous farm events, as well as some new additions.

“The event’s Facebook page has already spiked interest in the local community,” Tom says. “Our second annual Fall Farm Fest was on September 23rd and hosted over 700 guests. People loved it. After hosting three farm festivals in the past—summer and fall—we received numerous requests for a winter event. So we’re thrilled to put a holiday theme on this farm fest, to bring the community together again to have fun and meet new local vendors and small businesses, many of which are family-run.”

For the Deacons, part of the fun is talking to people who have never been to the farm and introducing them to its recently launched Farm Card program.

“The program is similar to a CSA,” Tom says. “Guests can help support our farm going into the winter, when it matters most. We have some exciting new projects we’d like to work on throughout the winter, and this is a way for the community to rally together and support a super local organic farm with free-range chickens. It’s truly putting the C in CSA.”

The Deacons founded Fable: From Farm to Table because they wanted a source of healthy, nutrient-rich food for their own family.

“Our thinking was, we shouldn’t have to go out to a restaurant to see beautiful pink watermelon radishes, or to taste delicious, nutty sunflower shoots that pack some crunch,” Tom says. “We were also concerned about the harmful chemicals and pesticides in the food system.”

Since then, the farm has become a source of nutritious food for the wider community. Its free-range chickens alone have people flocking there to purchase its organic, pasture-raised eggs, Tom says.

“We now have over 200 chickens and still sell out every weekend,” he says. “It’s our hope that, with enough support from the local community, we can add an additional 300 chickens to our flock this winter. We hope to meet a lot of new, wonderful people at Winter Fest, and if they are able to become a CSA Member, they can help support the farm to reach our goal.”

Location: 1311 Kitchawan Rd. (Rte. 134), Ossining, NY. For more info, call 914.862.0205, email info@fablefoods.com or visit FableFoods.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family-Friendly Fall Farm Fest in Ossining

farm

Tom and Kristin Deacon of Fable: From Farm to Table

Fable: From Farm to Table, in Ossining, will hold its Fall Farm Fest on September 23, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. With its family-friendly activities and prices—admission is $3, and children under 5 are free—the festival is an opportunity for parents and kids to get outdoors together and celebrate the autumn harvest season.

Visitors can take part in arts and crafts for all ages; hear live music; try a variety of culinary treats, including grilled fare, hearty dishes and baked goods from local shops and food trucks; buy farm-fresh produce grown in Westchester County; enter a raffle drawing (no need to be present to win); listen to live music; and try some Yoga at the Farm. They can also feed Fable’s chickens, tour its hydroponic greenhouse and pick a pumpkin and take family photos in the pumpkin patch.

Tom Deacon, Fable’s owner, says the Fall Farm Fest is a fun way to remind people of the benefits of eating sustainably. “We would like to make local and organic farming the norm,” he says. “Not only can we grow food that is delicious to eat, it is the medicine that will make you healthier as well.”

Fable: From Farm to Table is located at 1311 Kitchawan Rd. (Rte. 134), Ossining, NY. For more info, call 914.862.0205 or visit FableFoods.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Work: The New Face of the Small Farm Is Female

farm-14f225ad

Diane Zlotnikov, Z Farms Organic Food

The face of the American farmer has changed over the decades, from a man on his horse-drawn plow, to a man on his tractor, to a man overseeing other men on a factory farm. Now America is returning to its agricultural roots, embracing small farms run with natural practices. And often as not, the face of that small farm is female.

sarah

Sarah Simon
Farm Director, Common Ground Farm

Located on nine acres leased from Stony Kill Environmental Center, in Wappingers Falls, Common Ground Farm has a small footprint but a big mission. Part of a larger nonprofit that focuses on food access and education, it donates half the organic produce it grows, operates farmers’ markets that accept food benefits, and is working with schools to get more locally grown food on kids’ lunch trays.

Farm Director Sarah Simon says Common Ground relies on volunteers and supporters, as well as partnerships with local businesses, to keep the mission going. Sallyeander Soaps, in Beacon, uses the farm’s organic flowers in his calendula dandelion soap, and gives part of the revenue back to Common Ground. The farm has a similar arrangement with another Beacon business, Drink More Good, which uses the farm’s cucumbers, mint and jalapenos in its seasonal soda syrups. Hudson Valley Brewery is also working on a beer made from the farm’s fresh herbs.

“These value-added producers turn our perishable produce into a more shelf-stable and diverse array of products,” she says.

Simon would like Common Ground to be a connection between the local farm movement and food access in our communities, so that small farmers can help prevent hunger while running viable, resilient businesses.

“Every community needs strong local businesses to provide meaningful employment and quality products,” she says. “Farms are an especially important part of this picture because they preserve open spaces, provide food security in an otherwise fluctuating global marketplace, and offer a way for people to remain connected to their food and the means of agricultural production, which otherwise frequently results in worker exploitation.”

She says it’s important for farmers to focus on the well-being of their workers, and for the general community to be aware of the financial challenges many farmers face.

“The minimum wage in New York State is going up, which is a very good thing but a challenge for many small farms,” she says. “When you look at the price of local produce, it’s important to understand that you are helping support local jobs.”

Common Ground Farm
Stony Kill Environmental Center
Wappingers Falls, NY
845.231.4424
sarah@commongroundfarm.org
CommonGroundFarm.org

elizabeth

Elizabeth Ryder
Owner, Ryder Farm

Family farms were once the mainstay of American agriculture, but the industrialization of farming pushed most families off their land and out of the business. Not so with Ryder Farm, which is proof positive that with tenacity, good management and fair government, the family farm can survive and thrive.

“Our family farm goes back to 1795,” says Elizabeth Ryder. “In 1975, the pressure of rising taxes was weighing heavily upon our fallow farm, and we acted upon a new initiative put forth by New York State in an effort to save small family farms such as ours.” As the Ag District Law provided some tax relief to operations meeting certain requirements in agricultural production, the Ryders decided to go organic.

Now Ryder Farm produces organic vegetables, herbs and flowers, and it recently acquired Red Angus beef cattle. It also won a Natural Resources Conservation Service grant to enhance its pastures for grazing. One younger family member founded an artist retreat center, Space on Ryder Farm, to engage local residents and give them access to the farm. “Space has proclaimed their dedication to keeping agriculture here on the farm in the foreseeable future,” Ryder says. The farm also welcomes farm visits and offers programing that’s open to the public.

By keeping the farm viable, Ryder says, the family hopes to retain the rural character of the Westchester-Putnam area. “That’s a challenge,” she admits. “Our proximity to New York and local transit encourages population growth and the associated loss of open space. I’ve always felt that farms provide the working landscape of open space. A farm such as ours gives people an opportunity to buy local farm products from a known and trusted source, while helping preserve the area’s historic character.”

It makes sense that Ryder is very supportive of other local farmers, whom she sees as collaborators in a greater mission. “We understand that feeding the soil is what feeds the plant that feeds us,” she says.

Ryder Farm
400 Starr Ridge Rd.
Brewster, NY
845-279-4161
ryderfarmorganic@aol.com
RyderFarmOrganic.com

marykate

MaryKate Chillemi
Partner/Farmer, Meadowland Farm

Meadowland Farm is a small small farm, a market garden operated by just two people, MaryKate Chillemi and her partner, Chris Hausman. It is located in Clinton Corners in Dutchess County, on an original homestead that dates back to 1790. Over the years, the farm has been home to dairy and livestock animals. Now Chillemi and Hausman use biodynamic growing methods to produce heirloom vegetables, fruit, mushrooms, flowers, herbs and honey.

“We’re students of biodynamics and continue to educate ourselves on such practices,” Chillemi says. “We use the biodynamic planting calendar and make our own compost, herbal teas and preparations. We are also transitioning this property to no-till, and by next year all of our beds will be permanent. It’s overall better for our soil not to be compacted by tractors, and for our rocky soil, it is the most manageable for our scale.”

She and Hausman lease their pasture to Dirty Dog Farm, whose grass-fed cows provide the manure necessary to build Meadowland’s compost, which Chillemi calls “the heart of the farm.” They are also building a greenhouse on site, which will eliminate the long drive to rented greenhouse space at a neighboring farm 30 minutes away. Future plans include introducing some high tunnels to the operation and improving the farm’s overall infrastructure.

Farming is hard work, physically and logistically, Chillemi says, but it’s worth the good results: closing the carbon footprint, giving more people access to organic, local food, and empowering small communities to resist the encroachment of national corporations.

“It’s not easy or lucrative, but you don’t farm if you’re trying to make money,” she says. “For us, it’s a spiritual journey, one we see as playing an important role in the world. And for that I feel very proud and honored.”

Meadowland Farm
689 Schultzville Rd.
Clinton Corners, NY
914.400.3298
MeadowlandFarmNY.com

diane

Diane Smolyar-Zlotnikov,
Manager, Z Farms Organic Food

Diane Smolyar-Zlotnikov, M.D., is an internal medicine doctor and endocrinologist who works in general practice and urgent care online, through telemedicine. Oh, and she runs Z Farms Organic Food in Dover Plains, handling day-to-day operations, management, organic certification and even beekeeping.

“It’s my hobby-turned-small-business that I do part time,” she explains. “I turned to farming to connect to the land and show appreciation for its beauty and bounty. Transforming an abandoned parcel that was last farmed in 1940—overgrown fields, falling-apart fences, a totally wrecked 18th-century farmhouse—into a fully functional certified organic farming operation gives us pride and sense of accomplishment.”

The Z Farms farm stand is open 365 days a year, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., selling certified grass-fed beef, lamb and goat; pasture-raised poultry; eggs and berries. It also delivers to customers in local zip codes within 22 miles from the farm (with a one-time $70 minimum order).

Zlotnikov says she was surprised at first by the high cost of running a certified organic local farm—a cost that must be factored into the price of organic produce, making it unaffordable to some people. “We participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition program, both at the Pawling farmers market and at the farm stand, to somewhat help the situation, and we are trying to restructure certain aspects of operations to make prices more affordable. It is a work in progress for us,” she says.

She’s hoping the farm can establish a local volunteering program, which would ease their labor shortage and enable them to charge less for their products. The farm also might launch a “pick-your-own” program for berries and apples, once those crops are in full production.

As a physician, Zlotnikov sees the farm’s mission as educational as well as agricultural. “Ideally, the farm is not only a source of high-quality food but also an educational center, promoting healthy lifestyle and safe environment. We will gradually develop programs and classes for the community.”

Ultimately, she says, organic farming doesn’t just promote human health; it also promotes the health of the land.

Z Farms Organic Food
355 Poplar Hill Rd.
Dover Plains, NY
917.319.6414
zfarmsorganic@gmail.com
ZFarmsOrganic.com

bethann

Bethann Bruno
Farm Manager, Fable: From Farm to Table

Bethann Bruno has been farming for 20 years. When not working as the farm manager for Fable: From Farm to Table, she creates small vegetable gardens and edible landscapes for local homeowners. She also teaches gardeners how to use their land more efficiently.

“I began farming at a very young age,” she says. “I have always had a love of the field and placing my hands in the soil. I love watching everything grow. Seeing a seed turn into a seedling, and then produce a crop, really lights me up.”

Fable, a farm in Ossining, is operated by a strong, close-knit team of farmers who work year-round producing organic, nutrient-rich herbs, fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes and garlic. They use modern technological advancements such as greenhouses, hydroponics and vertical farming to grow their produce as sustainably possible. They also keep pasture-raised chickens for eggs.

Local residents benefit from Fable in many ways, Bruno says. “We supply them with fresh, organically grown produce that we sowed and planted by hand. They can also come volunteer and learn from us. We can show them how to work the fields, and they can apply that knowledge to their own garden. We can also show them how hydroponic growing works in our 200-tower greenhouse. Locals are always stopping by to volunteer and visit and are full of questions. We appreciate their help on the farm, and we hope they leave happy, with the answers they needed.”

Of course there are challenges to farming, she says. “When I wake up in the morning, my list of daily tasks depends on the weather. And I spend a lot of time tilling the fields and laying the plastic and irrigation by hand. A plastic mulch layer and tractor is on my wish list.”

Fable: From Farm to Table
1311 Kitchawan Rd.
Ossining, NY
914.862.0205
FableFoods.com