When we came rolling up the scenic hills toward Locusts on Hudson, the pleasant aroma of farmland filled the van. The historic estate covers as much as 75 acres of land. In the distance, behind well placed trees, one could catch glimpses of a river rolling by. We met with Zach and Olivia, whose smiles made us feel ever so welcome. They live and farm on this land, owned by a restaurant owner who took to renovating the property three years ago, seeking out farm fresh alternatives in a fixed market. What Zach and Olivia grow mainly winds up on the plate of the New York City restaurant, apart of a hotel with a highline skyline, which is owned by the owner of the farm. Theses farmers have had difficulty working with the chefs, as the restaurant already has a set menu. Thus, the farm is not always able to accommodate the restaurant’s needs.
Zach grew up on a farm in Salisbury, Connecticut. Olivia grew up in New York City. He then went on to study Biology in Columbia and worked for another farmer. He was accustomed to such a lifestyle, while Olivia made very drastic changes to her life.
Locusts on Hudson has a beautiful, particularly rustic greenhouse that was renovated recently. They also boast about 10 pigs, 200 laying hens, and 6 bee hives in addition to their extensive collection of crops and other farm animals. Zach even built a rolling chicken coupe. Occasionally, they rent out pieces of land, and for about 4 to 6 months they host apprentices through an apprentice program for aspiring farmers.
The are currently experimenting with four season growing on a larger scale, and they’ve found their medicinal teas and spinach, highly desirable in the winter months, to be more than well adapted to winter growing. Although the work is hard (the summer harvest keeps them busy hours on end two out of three days of the week), they love their job.
Olivia said herself: “Hudson Valley is a glorious place. It’s so beautiful!”
Our next stop was Scenic Hudson, a company, set in the middle of a central business district, that protects and preserves the highest scenic, agricultural, and ecological lands throughout Hudson Valley. Their most recent project has been preserving local farms and creating parks and preserves. They have been creating objective plans and analysis to delineate which areas deserve the greatest attention. Such prioritization is based not on politics, but instead on soils composition, size, and intensity of farmland. They hope to build economic resilience by purchasing the rights to certain farms so that they may ensure that the farms cannot be subdivided and changed into anything other than a farm. As of yet, they have protected 73 family owned farms.