Fat Apple Farm

(518) 965-6655

Fat Apple is a sustainable, ethical livestock farm in the Hudson Valley, NY. We raise sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, ducks, chickens, and turkeys and are committed to producing the finest products in an environmentally friendly manner.

Enjoy Your Food

When I first started buying and cooking food, my only concern was maximizing flavor. The nascent farmers market movement had not yet preoccupied our food-sourcing imaginations with the duty to know your farmer and buy locally. I did all my shopping at big grocery stores like everybody else. Plus I was too busy in my kitchen learning how to cook to bother with the sources of my raw ingredients.


But in the cookbooks I was reading, I noticed that the recipes called for things like “very ripe tomatoes” and “freshest possible cream” or “salted pork jowl.” In those same cookbooks I began to read about other parts of the world boasting large markets with abundant fresh vegetables and live chickens. I knew that fresh ingredients would yield better results in the kitchen and I pined for those far-away places.

 

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Happily, finding best-quality local food here in New York has become steadily easier over the years. Farmers markets have grown into wondrous displays of ripe and flavorful produce. But I suspect some of this growth is driven by a desire to reduce our carbon footprint, support humane animal welfare, support small farms, and the like. All good things, and at Fat Apple we limit ourselves to sustainable and wholesome practices.


But I’m here to remind you to enjoy your food. Cook as if you care. Cook as if you want to eat something that tastes good. This will inevitably drive you to finding worthy, local sources.


Consider eggs. The egg display refrigerator at the store is a bewildering and burdensome place. How to decide between “cage free” and “organic”? And shouldn’t they be the same thing? At Fat Apple we don’t label our eggs too much. Our eggs are “all of the above.” But the fact is that raising hens the right way produces a supremely flavorful egg. So yes, our hens are happier strutting around on pasture, but so are we when we eat their eggs.


We will never compromise the well-being of our animals. Neither will we compromise the quality of what we produce. The two objectives go hand in hand. If you seek maximum flavor, then you will want fresh—and therefore local—produce. If you seek maximum flavor, then you will tend to eat a variety of foods and therefore a healthier diet. If you truly seek maximum flavor, then you will avoid junk food. (And I’m not sure we could make junk food if we tried.) At Fat Apple we want you to satisfy your hunger with good things. Please enjoy.

A Year in Review

Starting a farm from scratch is no easy task: it requires acquiring livestock, building out infrastructure, developing systems and, most importantly, beginning to learn about the land. Our goal this year was simple, get animals on the ground and begin the process of restoring pastures through rotational grazing with multiple species. Much of the land had been either overused or completely neglected causing soils to become depleted of the nutrients and microbes that sustain the grasses. This year, in combination with the animals impact, we also had to mechanically mow down well established stands of goldenrod, which thrive in the acidic soils. Mowing allows for the sun to reach the ground and encourage dormant grass seed banks to grow and compete for soil nutrients.

I am happy to report that our efforts this first year prove promising. Our pigs have enjoyed rooting and disturbing soils.  The cattle, sheep, and goats have done well with limited resources, eating and clearing marginal forage. This is laying down nutrient rich manure, which over time will feed the soils.

We acquired and established breeding stock of Lowline Black Angus cattle, a unique breed of sheep called Cascade Landrace, young Sannan Dairy goats (which we bottle raised to be our brush and goldenrod destroyers), and have two groups of breeding pigs.  We began with 3 Idaho Pasture Pigs, which is a very new breed that was developed to thrive on grazing pasture. Then we added 5 Gloucester Old Spots, a heritage breed consisting of a pig well known for being docile, good mothers, and foragers, often referred to as orchard pigs. We raised about 250 laying hens, and about 500 meat chickens, 40 heritage breed Bourbon Red Turkeys for Thanksgiving, 20 ducks for egg production and 50 Muskovy ducks for meat. All of which have played an important part in our efforts to help restore the health of our soils, while also providing a great bounty of healthy, happy and nutritious meat.

The first year is always the most difficult, but because of the support of everyone involved, from farmers on the ground, to those who have supported us with buying and enjoying what we produce, we are excited for the future. Winter is a time to step back, take stock of the season, plan for the next, and recharge the batteries. We are lucky to be adding staff to help move us to our high standards that we strive for in animal husbandry and land management. Daniel Cunningham is a friend, former chef, Viking descendant and has been a great help this past year in a part-time capacity. I am looking forward to having him around on a full-time basis. Arielle Pasquier, a former colleague from Queens Farm, joins us on a part-time basis this winter. She brings strong experience in animal husbandry as well as vegetable and flower growing. Here’s to a great 2018 season! We look forward to sharing our bounty and our farm with all of you.

On Becoming a Farmer

Since we started up Fat Apple early this year I've been asked by many people, "Why become a farmer?" It's a fair question. I grew up in suburbia and come most recently from software engineering and city living, so the change of focus to pigs and shit and mud is nontrivial.

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