Scenes From Our Farms: Amba Farms

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Name of Farm

Amba Farms

Address

Wood Road, Bedford Hills

Web site

www.ambafarms.com

There’s a trend I’ve noticed in farming that for lack of better description, I’ll call “intelligent farming”.  It goes beyond seed, plant, produce – it even goes beyond organic.  It’s about the much bigger picture, it’s about the earth.  I call it intelligent because it is, it takes into account biodiversity, balance, sustainability and even a little spirituality.  And Liz Taggart, Founder of Amba Farms embraces this intelligent way of farming with open arms and an open heart.  Believing that farming begins at the soil level, Amba Farms strives to create a nutrient dense soil through constant monitoring and amendments of organic matter to the soil.  In turn, you are presented with nutrient rich produce that has been grown with intention, a lot of thought and  yes, even meditative music.  Liz who is a long time student of Vedic literature believes the music nourishes and enlivens the plants intelligence, energy and creative growth.  Many years ago I read about a research project that tracked the growth differences in plants that were grown ‘listening’ to classical music versus heavy metal.  The classical music plants far surpassed those grown with the heavy metal soundtracks.  Imagine plants grown listening to meditative music.  I had the opportunity to taste some of the chard grown under these great conditions.  The colors were vibrant and the taste so rich and full – I can’t wait to try more.  Amba Farms produce is available at the John J. Homestead Farmer’s Market in Katonah, Saturdays 9 – 1 pm    (June 23 – Oct. 13).

How long has the farm been in the family  (history of the farm) 

I grew up on a small community farm in Maple Heights, Ohio.  All four of my grandparents immigrated from Slavinia and my maternal grandfather and three of his brothers all bought properties near each other and started farming.  Not so much for commercial use but for the families and communities in the area.  Each brother focused on a different area of farming – bees, chickens, produce.  As my life developed, I realized that I wanted to come back to that life.  My father had been a professional chef and I grew up in kitchens so I thought maybe I could have a small farm that catered to chefs.  This is our third summer of commercially growing.  We quickly realized that the demand in our area so outweighs the supply and we have such an appreciative, informed public as well as restaurant owners and chefs.  People really want pure, tasty food.  Over the years I began taking courses about new techniques and farming.  What really attracted my interest was the science of the soil so our whole focus is around the soil.  We have learned that soil is not dirt, its not an inert, pulverized material.  Soil, when its healthy is a well balanced, living ecosystem that’s full of organic matter, microbial life and macro and micro nutrients that we need for growing healthy plants.   We focus on a nutrient rich soil by regularly infusing the soil with not only water but supplemental nutrients as well.  In turn we have nutrient dense, nutritionally rich food that’s locally grown.

How many acres are on the farm?

We have about 20 acres in three different locations.  Right now we’re probably growing on about 10 acres so we have lots of room to grow.

What do you grow?

We have a very diverse crop from herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, beans & squash and everything into between.  We especially enjoy growing unusual and heirloom varieties.  We have over 10 varieties of zucchini alone.

How has the farm changed over the years?

We started on a very small scale but the biggest change we’ve seen is in our soil.  The difference in the soil today versus three years ago when we started is very noticeable – it’s incredible.

Where do you sell your produce?

We sell to quite a few local restaurants such as Sweet Grass Grill, North Star, Bedford Post, Equis, Erica’s Kitchen, Cafe of Love and several others.

Do you participate in CSA and/or farmer’s market?

We sell at the John J. Homestead Farmer’s Market in Katonah and on Tuesdays & Thursday at the property on Rte 100 next to King Cone we have a farmers market from 2-6:00.

Tell us about your most successful season?

I’d probably say this summer because we’ve learned a lot more about how to grow, the soil, seeds – we’ve really enriched our skills.

What was your hardest season and why?

The hardest thing is making the farm financially independent.  This year too all the farmers are complaining about how many more insects we have because we had such a mild winter.

Is there a lesson that you’ve learned farming that you might apply to life?

To trust in nature’s intelligence and organizing. It gives you a deep trust that everything has its own way of working out.

Do you have a favorite recipe from the farm that you’d like to share?

My favorite recipe this summer is taking a few ripe tomaotes, then I immerse them in boiling water for 12 seconds to remove the peel.  I then chop up the tomatoes really fine (you can leave or take out the seeds), then I add fresh basil, some fresh rubbed garlic salt, olive oil and a little salt & pepper.  I stir it up and serve this incredible al fresco sauce over pasta – the fresh, summer flavor is incredible!

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About Author

Contributing blogger Margaret Rizzuto is a portrait and food photographer with an interest in vegetarian and raw foods (though she does admit to occasional indulgences in seafood). Margaret lives and works in Lower Hudson Valley where she loves being surrounded by the beauty of nature, the farms, and of course, great food. She admits to being obsessed with the Food Channel to the point where she’ll even watch shows where meat is being cooked—meat that being a vegetarian she knows she’ll never cook. She loves all the techniques, ingredients and creativity that go into cooking. When not shooting, Margaret can often be found in her garden battling slugs or in her kitchen trying out a new recipe. To see some of Margaret’s food work visit http://www.mrpculinaryart.com or see her portrait work at http://www.margaretrizzutophotography.com

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