Tuesday, June 22, 2010
In the above photos we see Christopher Pawelski, who with his father and his brother owns and runs Pawelski Farms in Pine Island, NY. The Pawelskis grow onions in the rich black dirt of Pine Island. Their family has farmed it for several generations. Pine island, one of the largest black dirt regions in North America was formed when the glaciers of the last ice age melted and turned the entire area into a swampy bog. Over the centuries all of the organic material in the swamp settled to the bottom and remained there until Polish immigrants settled the area. They drained the bogs and created some of the most fertile farmlands in the state.
I interviewed Christopher back in May after a severe windstorm which acted like a sandblaster to crops, followed by two harsh frosts left him wondering how much of his harvest was going to be salvageable. At first I thought the fields did not look too bad, until he explained that most of the green plants I was seeing were barley, which are used as a cover crop in the early growing stages. It would not be evident for several weeks how much damage had been done; perhaps 20%-30% crop loss. It is hard to tell for certain though until harvest. Nonetheless, a couple weeks later they were out working the fields again, hoping for the best.
Unfortunately the government aid programs and farmers insurance barely cover the costs of onion farming. The amount of aid is calculated by basing the costs on corn, rice and cotton farming, which is only about eighteen dollars an acre, whereas onion farming is far more costly per acre.
I will be returning to do an update on Pawelski farms in the near future.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Wrights Farm located on Route 208 in Gardiner, NY is more than just the farm stand along side the road. It is a 450 acre farm and orchard owned and operated by the Wright Family since their Great Grandfather Charles purchased it in 1903. At that time it was a dairy farm. The first commercial apple orchards were planted 1910. Currently the farm is Operated by Ted Jr., his daughter Tammy, her husband Mike Boylan and grandson, Colin.
In addition to the 220 or so acres devoted to a large variety of apple trees, Wrights Farm also grows peaches, nectarines, cherries, tomatoes and squashes. The farm stand also sells produce, a myriad of flowers, acquired by Tammy personally, and home made baked goods.
While visiting the first time, Tammy drove me out to the orchards to meet Mike and Colin. from that point on Mike and Colin took me on a tour of the orchard and spoke to me about the day to day operations and about the many issues that a farm faces. Mike explained to me about how the trees are handled in order to get the best yields.
When the trees bloom there are clusters of apple blossoms which are made up of one bud and six surrounding flowers called laterals. To ensure a good harvest and to prevent too many apples from growing and weighing down the branches they have to do crop adjusting and trimming of the trees. The goal of the crop adjustment is to ensure that the King Flower or bud in the center of each cluster sets and grows strongly. They then wait and see which of the laterals look like they will also grow well. At that point they trim some of the other lateral buds so that they don't grow and make the branches too heavy, leading to breakage.
Mike also explained how they only get one shot every year to make a good harvest. Unfortunately he said "Hail, Frost, high winds and drought all determine whether or not that happens". He said that while there are federal funds and aid programs, they often are not enough to cover a serious crop loss.
As a member of Gardiner's Planning board, Mike is very active in working with advocates of Open Space areas and trying to promote local farms. Most of the land that people want to preserve as Open Space though is farmland. As has often been the case in recent years, farmers will often sell their farmland for development because they are either retiring or it has just become to expensive to farm. He explained that while he loves and respescts organic farms, that they still only make up a small percentage of the land that people want to preserve as Open Space. Other larger farms like Wright's make up a much bigger percentage. Yet because of the intimate nature of organic farms which are usually only a few acres each, they tend to get more of the funding to remain undeveloped than bigger farms. Mike says that if people want to preserve the beautiful views in Gardiner then they also need to support the bigger farms as well. He urges people to stop at the farm stands and buy directly from the farmer. Buy Local!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Rod Senior of Dressel Farms in New Paltz, NY stands proudly in front of his blossoming apple trees. This picturesque farm and orchard has been in business for more than 50 years now. They grow multiple varieties of apples, strawberries, peaches and pumpkins.They also offer fresh pressed cider at their market. While I have not yet tried it, I can say however that if it is anywhere near as good as the crisp and juicy apple I tried, then it is surely a winner.
Working year round, this family and the workers employed on the farm are kept constantly busy. In addition to what they grow, Dressel Farms also offers family friendly activities like free hayrides, a corn maze in the fall and picnic tables with a view. Be sure to stop by and check it out!
Friday, April 23, 2010
Nestled in the sleepy town of Ellenville, New York is a local gem of a restaurant that is waking up the community to the aromas of sustainable gourmet cuisine. Chef Marcus Guiliano and his wife Jamie are the owners of Aroma Thyme Bistro.
The menu boasts healthy gourmet dishes. Looking for an unconventional yet highly nutritious starter? You could try a shot of fresh pressed organic wheat grass juice.
There is also a delicious Broccoli Rabe salad with sautéed broccoli rabe, goat cheese, roasted yellow beets, apple & mustard vinaigrette. The bitterness of the broccoli rabe, the tartness of the goat cheese and the sweetness of beets and apples complement each other superbly.
Another fine choice for seafood lovers is the rare sesame crusted Albacore Tuna with spicy Sriracha & peanut glaze. For this dish Chef Marcus serves only line caught tune from the Pacific Northwest which is hailed by Prevention Magazine for having the lowest possible mercury content of all tuna available.
I highly recommend trying this restaurant out. You will not be disappointed!
Hello, my name is Stefan Baumann and I am a professional photographer located in Walker Valley, New York. My goal for this blog is to showcase the many restaurants and farms of the Hudson Valley as well as the numerous local artisans that offer unique products to us all.