The great Upstate

Each week, a couple students from NYU’s Urban Agriculture class will share their perspective. This week, Camille Shoemaker brings us up to speed on what’s growing (and cooking) at some great farms in Upstate New York. 

The changing trees, crisp air, and small-town feel of Upstate New York are all well worth getting out of the city. The towns of Schoharie County and Middleburgh, about three hours outside the city, pride themselves on their many local farms — and with good reason.

On a field trip Upstate, I had the joy of visiting Wellington’s Herbs and Spices, Barber’s Farm, Cowbella/Danforth Dairy Farm, and Harpersfield Cheese. The tour finished off with an amazing dinner cooked by culinary students at SUNY Cobleskill Campus with products from farms we visited as well as from their own cattle, vegetable and fish farm. Each farm showed the hard work that goes into creating and maintaining a farm; especially large scale ones like these.

Checking out Barber’s Farm in Upstate New York.

Harpersfield specializes in growing 100 percent USDA certified organic herbs and spices. They sell the herbs fresh and dried at the gift shop on the property, as well as at several different farm stands in the area.

Barber’s Farm is in their 6th generation of farming, and grows everything from lettuce, corn and tomatoes to edible flowers and eight varieties of eggplant. They own their own farm stand, where they sell all of their produce to the local community and anyone driving by.

Shopping at Barber’s farm stand.

Cowbella/Danforth Dairy Farm is in their seventh generation of farming.  They own a long line of purebred Jersey cows and produce yogurt and butter that is processed on site.

Danforth Dairy Farm is in its 7th generation of farming — a true classic.
Baby cows at Cowbella/Danforth Dairy Farms. Too cute.

Harpersfield Cheese is crafted from milk sourced from a local dairy farm. The cheese is aged in an underground cave on site that is temperature- and humidity-controlled to ensure the cheese is the ideal quality and has the best flavor.

The cheese cave.
To top it all off, a delicious meal sourced locally. This course was a pork and beef meatball with swiss chard from Barber’s Farm, meat from SUNY.

Visiting these farms has given me inspiration for what we can do with our harvests at the NYU Urban Farm Lab. At the moment, our harvest is enjoyed by NYU faculty, staff, and students to be repurposed however they choose, whether it is pickling the abundant amount of jalapenos or simply cooking them at home. With a couple months left until our winter crops are ready, the class will be brainstorming other ways to utilize our harvest so that others can also enjoy our bounty.

The farm is still brand new, and is nothing in comparison to the size of Barber’s and Wellington’s Farm. We are still in the beginning stages of finding creative ways to utilize the space we have, but that’s the fun part! We look to these amazing farmers for inspiration on how we can grow.

The NYU Urban Farm Lab may not have cows, organic certification, a huge amount of space or a place to store cheese, but we do have New York City right at our fingertips. This makes us unique in our own way, and we hope to inspire other people that visit to start their own urban farm!

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