April 6 2018,
Ethan Pierce and Diego Encarnacion
The Farm Bridge is an agricultural company specializing in making value added product located in Kingston, NY – last week our class got a chance to visit and this is what we saw.
Greeted by an unassuming and vaguely industrial entrance way our class of Vassar student ventured toward our destination, The Farm Bridge. Our class has set out this semester to better understand agriculture in the Hudson Valley and the effects that has had on a sociological level. After a week one visit to Sprout Creek Farm we took a step down the production line to The Farm Bridge. After we navigated some poor signage and a later-in-a-small-hallway situation we entered the Offices of The Farm Bridge and were greeted by the founder. After a short presentation we donned some almost inappropriately sexy hair nets and ventured out onto the floor. Here we saw the real operation where products sourced from (mostly) local farmers are mixed to a client’s specification to create their product. On the floor we saw lots of carrot peeling and slicing, bone broth pouring, some sort of pickling involving gallons and gallons of Florida’s Natural orange and grapefruit juice and a machine that used to be used from pill counting and weighing that had been repurposed for sunflower seeds. Then then proceeded to the nut roasting room and through some storage facilities toward the conference room we began our journey in.
During our time at The Farm Bridge we pondered many questions of sustainability and agriculture and what role that has to play here in the Hudson Valley. Living in a city where ¼ households are food insecure it seemed almost wasteful to be turning this fresh produce into higher value products that low income/food insecure households would no longer have access to because of the niche markets they serve and the higher cost of the product. It would be a public health interest for The Farm Bridge to do what its title seems to indicate, which is bridging the gap between farms who are looking for markets to sell their products and and the residents that need this most. That being said you have to factor the need of the farmers in here. The Farm Bridge is providing contracts for farmers in the area for large quantities and regular orders even hosting drop off days for tomatoes where they would pay any farmer. This reliable and regular source of income is a huge relief for farmers who often don’t know if they will be able to sell all their produce.
We departed The Farm Bridge after taking a tour of its facilities and meeting many of thepeople working there. Our next destination was the county seat of Ulster County, Kingston. Although our time there was somewhat rushed, we still attained a sense of what the town was like, splitting into smaller groups to peruse the shops, restaurants and monuments of the city. One of the most enjoyable aspects of city was the strong presence of smaller, family-run businesses. Personal favorites include the was Rough Draft, a bookstore and bar that had a certain charm to it. Definitely worth going back to!