My Farming Adventure

0 notes

WARNING: Click here to learn about the appalling treatment of pigs at one of country's largest pork farms

I saw this on GrubStreet. It made me tear up, which I don’t do regularly. It also made me want to share. Apologies if you didn’t want to see this. It’s not too late to turn back.

We do raise pigs on our farm, and we do raise them for food. There’s no skirting that fact. But they are not treated like this. Pigs are one of the nobler animals I’ve had the privilege of interacting with. They’re clean, smart, love to play and wag their tails. Their eyes are more emotive than those of dogs.

How anyone could partake in this type of business and sleep at night is astounding. How executives at large chain stores can continue to buy from these farms is troubling.

This is just one example of why paying more for meat raised in a humane, dignified manner on farms that are open to visitors at all times might be something consumers should consider. How else can we stop such cruelty? Market demand dictates supply. If no one buys, no pigs get treated like this.

Vegetarianism/veganism is the only real way to avoid being a supporter of this system (so long as you also forgo the use of leather and other animal based products).

While I’m not personally prepared to go there yet, I am making a concerted effort to forgo meat that isn’t from an identifiable farm with transparent husbandry practices. I’ve cut way back on my weekly meat intake since this spring. It was really hard for me because (a) I love the taste of meat and (b) I’m certainly no Mr. Will Power. What I found was that after a month of concerted effort (which began when I gave up meat for Lent), my cravings weakened.  I’ve re-introduced meat since then, but have continued to cut way back and try to stick with fish. I have and am still losing weight as a direct result and I feel better in terms of both digestion and energy levels, ability to sleep.

Anyway, not trying to be preachy, just sharing some information that I find compelling, my thoughts on the subject and anecdotes about my personal experience. Cheers and Happy Fourth!

4 notes

My interesting day…

Got up early to drive one of our 30’ refrigerated delivery trucks from our warehouse in NYC to the farm. Plan was to drive back another similar truck which just got serviced.

An hour away from the farm in northern Mass, the truck lost power. I had to drive it back with my four ways on in the breakdown lane at 20 mph. That and the 2 hour delay south of New Haven due to an accident set me back 3 hours. I quickly loaded all of tomorrow’s veggies into the newly fixed truck and left the farm at 7pm. Drove down to Holyoke Mass (saw a huge black bear sidling down the side of interstate 91!!), exited the interstate to go to Red Fire Farm to pick up more veggies, and my truck broke down. Drive shaft snapped.

I’m now texting from a Mobile station waiting for tow truck. With any luck, I’ll manage to get the rest of the veggies and make it back to NYC by tomorrow morning so we have time to pack everyone’s orders… Wish me luck!

2 notes

Eagle Street Rooftop Garden
Holton Farms took a field trip and attended a workshop at one of the city’s roof top gardens.  Bradley, Teddy and Jurrien met Annie Novak a few weeks back, just as mustard greens, tatsoi and radishes started to come up.  If you have time, you should check out the cool stuff they’re up to in Greenpoint (http://rooftopfarms.org). The view is amazing, they sell goodies from their garden and have rabbits and bees. While we certainly have an awesome view from our farm in Vermont (think green rolling hills, green trees, all overlooking the Connecticut River), the Manhattan skyline and East River are pretty impressive. If we weren’t so busy, we’d be volunteering up there regularly!

Eagle Street Rooftop Garden

Holton Farms took a field trip and attended a workshop at one of the city’s roof top gardens.  Bradley, Teddy and Jurrien met Annie Novak a few weeks back, just as mustard greens, tatsoi and radishes started to come up.  If you have time, you should check out the cool stuff they’re up to in Greenpoint (http://rooftopfarms.org). The view is amazing, they sell goodies from their garden and have rabbits and bees. While we certainly have an awesome view from our farm in Vermont (think green rolling hills, green trees, all overlooking the Connecticut River), the Manhattan skyline and East River are pretty impressive. If we weren’t so busy, we’d be volunteering up there regularly!

0 notes

Future loading dock of our pack house and cold storage barn. Seth just finished excavating the site today.

Future loading dock of our pack house and cold storage barn. Seth just finished excavating the site today.

0 notes

Tomatoe field with straw. Straw covers the soil between plastic covered rows to prevent weeds. Each row requires two bales of straw, which cost $15. Not cheap at 100 rows, but we won’t have to hand weed the tomato patch!

Tomatoe field with straw. Straw covers the soil between plastic covered rows to prevent weeds. Each row requires two bales of straw, which cost $15. Not cheap at 100 rows, but we won’t have to hand weed the tomato patch!

1 note

Tomato field under plastic. Plastic mulch keeps moisture in the soil and prevents weeds. The transplants went in yesterday… Tomatoes should be ready first week of July with some luck and sunshine!

Tomato field under plastic. Plastic mulch keeps moisture in the soil and prevents weeds. The transplants went in yesterday… Tomatoes should be ready first week of July with some luck and sunshine!

1 note

Zagat Food Truck Frenzy

I haven’t publicized it until now, but Holton Farms has joined forces with the Steak Truck and will be competing in tomorrow’s competition in Chelsea. 21st and 22nd streets between 10th and 11th avenues will be blocked off and home to 24 of NYC’s most popular food trucks from noon to 3pm. Come check us out during lunch if you’re free!

2 notes

Part1 : Week One Reflections

So week 1 of CSA Select deliveries is almost a wrap. We had a tough but ultimately satisfying week. It all started on Sunday evening…

Bradley, Adam and I left our warehouse in the Bronx around 9 pm for Vermont arriving around 2 am.

Woke at 6:30 Monday, where I headed to Westminster Meats, our local abbottoire (I don’t like the term ‘slaughter house’, guilty conscience perhaps?) to pick up 4 black Angus for delivery to Adam Tiberio of Tiberio Custom Meats in Hudson NY. He and his team of 3 meat cutters had to process them by day’s end, 1600 lbs of beef. No small feat when starting the processing at 8 am sharp.

Because my truck wouldn’t start (people familiar with our operation will discover that mechanical issues are a recurring theme…), I was unable to embark on the 3 hour drive until 8 am. I arrived around noon. After off loading, I drove from Hudson NY to the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts north of Springfield and just south of historic Deerfield (for any history buffs, look into the Deerfield Massacre) to pick up asparagus from Smiarowski Farm and arugula, spinach, chives, rutabaga and golden turnips from Red Fire Farm. Charlie Smiarowski is a real character. We had a nice chat. Red Fire Farm is impressive, Ryan has been farming organically since childhood and runs a tight ship. I really liked their solar array and cool logo. Their produce is delicious.

In the meantime Adam and Bradley were back at Holton Farms preparing all the equipment we needed to haul back o NYC and attempting to get the Farm Truck, our small Ford F350 with refrigeration unit (“reefer”) and our 26’ International reefer truck road ready with mixed results… We got the Ford on the road, and Adam left at 6 pm for Hudson to go pick up the beef. There were a few hiccups along the way (to understate things) and Adam got to NYC at 4 am Tuesday morning (day 1 of the 2011 CSA Select season).

Bradley and I finished prepping Monday evening by 10 pm an hit the hay. Up at 6 on Tuesday with Bradley driving the Farm Truck and me in my pickup to NYC. All good until Springfield MA where the Farm Truck decided to quit.

We quickly found a Chevy dealer and hobbled into the lot where we got them looking into the engine while Brad and I off loaded everything we needed for our Tuesday deliveries into my pickup. Brad drove like the wind to NYC while I spent the night in a Motel 8. Highlight of the evening was a cold brew and dinner at Outback Steakhouse (I ate a seared tuna app and a shrimp Caesar salad).

Tuesday was a disaster needless to say on the delivery front of things, but our kick ass members were extremely understanding and we muscled through.

Because the Farm Truck repair was going to be extensive and take over week, Teddy drove from NYC to pick me and the rest of the goods needed for Wednesday up. He left NYC at 4 am and arrived in Springfield a little before 8. When we finally arrived back in NYC with our only working truck, we went straight to our warehouse in Hunt’s Point to begin packing for the day’s deliveries. Adam had rented a U-Haul for our second truck to replace the uncooperative Farm Truck.

We made it through Wednesday deliveries with the help of Teddy, Courtenay and Haitao on the pack line. By the time we finished up it was midnight.

On Thursdays and Mondays there are no deliveries. we use those days to pick up product. Bradley went to Vermont and Massachusetts. Adam worked on member correspondence and other mission critical things like ordering from suppliers, updating inventory and entering new items onto Farmigo (our web based CSA ordering system). I woke up at 4 and began working on our newsletter (which is supposed to go out every Thursday). Then I had a 7 am call with Seth to prepare for a meeting with the Farm Service Agency to discuss a potential loan for our pack house. Needless to say I got behind and have yet to finish this weeks newsletter.

I had to go to our warehouse to meet with Hicham (owner of the warehouse space and commissary where we park our Farm Truck), Aaron Houser (formerly chef at Jimmy’s 43), and Adam Tiberio to discuss an event we were catering that night at the Element Times Square Hotel.

The event was a media launch to announce our CSA partnership with the Starwood Hotel brand and we asked to cater it as a dry run for the Zagat Food Truck Frenzy we’re competing in on Monday, May 23 in Meatpacking District from Noon to 3 pm. It’s a collaboration between Holton Farms, the Steak Truck, Aaron and Tiberio Custom Meats. (if free everyone should come and cheer us on)

To be continued…

Note- I know this is probably pretty dry reading, but this week will go down in infamy and I wanted to record my thoughts and have a place to point to when people question the price of my spinach…

1 note

Solar array on roof of Red Fire Farm barn. Pretty cool. We’re looking into installing similar units on our new pack house and cold storage barn. Not cheap, but the thought of cooling veggies using clean technology is exciting.

Solar array on roof of Red Fire Farm barn. Pretty cool. We’re looking into installing similar units on our new pack house and cold storage barn. Not cheap, but the thought of cooling veggies using clean technology is exciting.