This was our first summer on the farm with all of the fields under full organic management. Mostly that has meant recovering fields that have either been in hay, used for horse pasture or simply left fallow and weed-choked for decades. As certified organic grain growers this means extensive cover crop rotations. While crops like the buckwheat seen above are not grown for harvest, they are vital to the overall health of the farm for weed suppression, pest/disease-cycle disruption, soil de-compaction and adding fresh organic matter back to the soil. They are also lovely to behold and, in the case of buckwheat, provide a rich source of pollen for local honeybees.
It was a busy first season for our brand-new John Deere tractor and we treated it to itâ€™s first 100-hour maintenance under the watchful supervision of farm dog, Barley, who is also an ace mechanic.
This spring we planted what we believe to be the first dedicated brandy pear orchard in the Hudson Valley. We selected ten European perry (pear cider) varieties and planted 120 trees. This is vital to our long-term goal of producing a pear brandy of the caliber of those produced in Calvados, France. The addition of bitter, bitter-sharp and tannic pears to our current base of locally-sourced dessert pears will greatly elevate the complexity of our brandies. As with the rest of the farm, our orchard is organic, and practices like seeding specific wildflowers and perennial plants throughout provide holistic benefits to orchard health.
Nineteenth Century distilleries in the Hudson Valley measured their annual profitability using two metrics: number of barrels filled with whisky and number of pigs fattened on stillage. It was an elegant system and sustainable, too. We help to close our waste loop while simultaneously providing our regional farm-to-table restaurants with succulent heritage breed pork.
We raise American Mulefoots, a Livestock Conservancy critically endangered heritage breed considered by culinary professionals to produce some of the finest pork in the world. Our pigs are rotated through fresh pasture every few weeks where they get to forage on mast, roots, insects, grasses and foliage.
Weâ€™re honored and humbled by the opportunity to be stewards to this farm. Our acreage in the old New Paltz hamlet of Springtown has been in agriculture since the late 1600â€™s. That is a massive legacy to live up to. So, in everything we do, we strive to ask first: how will this help the farm? The great agrarian, Wendell Berry said it best when he wrote: â€œFor the true measure of agriculture is not the sophistication of its equipment, the size of its income or even the statistics of its productivity, but the good health of the land.â€