2012 Harvest Award Winners
Wild Hive Farm
Clinton Corners, NY
Don Lewis, owner
In the 30 years since Don Lewis first began raising bees for local honey (hence the name Wild Hive Farm), his commitment to reviving grains and promoting sustainable agriculture has reshaped the future of local grain-based agriculture in the Hudson Valley. Today, his Wild Hive Community Grain Project includes a bakery, café and market, an innovative grain-based CSA, and a newly expanded milling facility that has tripled capacity in the last five years. Lewis is dedicated to working with local farmers to grow heirloom and ancient grain varieties like emmer, red fife and einkorn – thereby encouraging diversity and innovation. His high-quality products have earned him a loyal following from New York City’s leading chefs, bakers, restaurants and retail stores, not to mention food press and customers at Greenmarket, who are all enamored with the freshness and distinctive flavor of his stone-milled flour and grains.
The impact of Wild Hive’s operations in the region is extensive. Lewis’ facility has provided much-needed infrastructure for grain farmers to clean, de-hull and grind their grains, with future plans to add a machine that will produce rolled grains (a product that has not previously been available in the Hudson Valley). Don’s Wild Hive model has helped to influence several other grain operations over the years that have successfully taken root in the Northeast. Wild Hive’s new facility also has the capability to host educational initiatives for the community and to be a place where peers can share knowledge, something Lewis is dedicated to supporting.
Lewis believes that “This model we have created here in the Hudson Valley lays the groundwork for a regional grain-based food system, which will bring food security to the Northeast, provide a more nutrient dense food supply, and give fair value to growers and consumers.”
Farm to Table Co-Packers
Jim Hyland, owner
In June, 2010, Jim Hyland of Farm to Table Co-Packers had an ambitious idea: to create a processing facility and commercial kitchen that would allow farms of all sizes to process, jar, bake, freeze, and brand their freshly grown produce and fruits into value-added products. Now, this USDA-certified facility boasts a 30,000 square foot kitchen that includes a processing line, a full bakery, an incubator/test kitchen, a cutting-edge “Individually Quick Frozen” system, storage for refrigerated, frozen and dry goods, and multiple loading docks. In just a short time, they have already become a “food-hub” for the region, providing needed infrastructure that has significantly boosted revenue for the 60+ local farms they work with while fostering the development of new food businesses that are sourcing locally, thereby supporting the viability of a year-round agricultural economy.
Farm to Table Co-Packers is the only facility of its kind in the Hudson Valley that can offer state-of-the-art equipment and services, yet has the flexibility to work with growers of all sizes on different scale production runs. Hyland brought his existing relationships and commitment to area growers from his previous experience as founder of Winter Sun Farms, and leads them through the process from start to finish to help them find ways to diversify their business and maximize their harvests. The impact of this approach cannot be overstated. When farmers were threatened by Hurricane Irene, Farm to Table Co-Packers was able to step in and buy large quantities before the storm hit. After the storm Farm to Table made value-added products that could be sold at market, generating needed income for farmers who needed it most.
“If I have one goal for the future of food in our region, it is to see more acreage being farmed,” enthuses Jim Hyland. “Our regional food system needs to be viable year-round, and processing facilities play a key role in that vision. Farm to Table Co-Packers gives locally grown produce the possibility of a shelf-life, which enhances farm profitability and increases the production potential of the farm. All of this brings more local food into the hands of local people.”
Hudson Valley Fresh
Dr. Sam Simon, President
Anyone in the Hudson Valley who is a fan of fresh, local milk is probably already familiar with Hudson Valley Fresh. Established in 2005 as a non-profit dairy cooperative, HVF distributes dairy made by its nine family farm members to retail and institutional markets throughout the Northeast, bringing milk from “udder to shelf” in less than 36 hours. In addition to milk, they produce half-and-half, heavy cream, sour cream, yogurt, and specialty ice creams.
Strict quality standards result in delicious flavor that have earned kudos from consumers and a growing market demand that has allowed Hudson Valley Fresh to achieve 50% annual growth for the past two years.
Hudson Valley Fresh is dedicated to preserving the agricultural heritage of the Hudson River Valley. By providing a fair and sustainable price for premium milk from participating dairy farms, and returning all profits to member farmers, the cooperative keeps its farmers in business, preventing the loss of their land to development. The members of Hudson Valley Fresh collectively operate 5,000 acres of farm land, with hopes to increase that number and expand their positive impact on dairy farming in this region.
Their mission and belief in the premium quality of their products has helped promote the Hudson Valley as one of the premiere agricultural food regions in the country.
Says Simon ” In recent years, farmers selling commodity milk had to sell it for less than the cost of producing it, so they were in a dire situation. Hudson Valley Fresh guarantees a price that will bring them a profit. It’s a sustainable wage. Farmers just want to earn a living wage from the land. That’s the total mission – nothing more, nothing less.”
Northeast Livestock Processing Service Company
Kathleen Harris, Processing and Marketing Coordinator
Ask any livestock farmer in the Northeast to describe their greatest challenge and they’ll tell you it is the processing of their animals. Reputable, efficient, and quality processing is essential for the economic viability of any livestock farmer.
The Northeast Livestock Processing Service (NELPSC) solves this challenge. A farmer-owned and operated company that links its 130 member farmers with processors and buyers, the service ensures livestock farmers will get their carefully raised animals processed to their specifications and then to market. NELPSC offers a suite of services including matching farmers with the right processor, helping them convey cutting instructions, and providing in-plant oversight, but their goal is to encourage farmers to eventually manage processing independently.
In addition, NELPSC helps market and sell their members’ products through an online listing service that connects farm members with buyers, and by selling meat to institutions like colleges and private schools. Their success in bringing products from small family farms to institutional markets cannot be overstated. Future goals include supplying meat to nursing homes and assisted living facilities where quality nutrition is needed, and working with like-minded enterprises to replicate the successful NELPSC model.
“For a novice, the task of knowing how to arrange for the harvest of a steer —what to ask for and what to worry about —it’s daunting when you really don’t even speak the language. NELPSC was willing to spend time helping me explore ideas, answering questions, and gently telling me when I was missing the mark. They were a lifesaver! NELPSC’ nitty-gritty advice was important, but even further – they serve as a clearinghouse of ideas and experiences, and that will be instrumental in making livestock farming viable in this region.”
– Lee Ranney, Kinderhook Farm and NELPSC farmer member