Scenes From Our Farms: Cabbage Hill Farm

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Cabbage Hill Farm is as close to perfection as you can get.  A non-proft dedicated to the education and preservation of the farm and animlas, Cabbage Hill practices sustainable agriculture and – aquaponics.  It’s the perfection of a cycle really.  The water used for the fish is led to a hydroponic system where the by-products from the aquaculture are filtered out by the plants as vital nutrients, the water is then cleansed and recirculated back to the fish.  Pretty cool stuff.  And I have to say, I have never seen basil leaves quite so big & robust as those grown in this system (and I have seen and eaten a lot of basil!).  The grounds are just beautiful with animals grazing about in big open fields.  My meeting with the greenhouse manager, Barney Sponenberg was a really a fun and educational experience.  Cabbage Hill produce is available at the John Jay Homestead Farm Market in Katonah.

Name of Farm

Cabbage Hill Farm

Address

115 Crow Hill Road, Mt. Kisco

Web site

www.cabbagehillfarm.org

How many acres?

The farm is about 170 acres,  50 acres are used for pasture, about an acre and a half for vegetable crops and approximately 100 acres are woods.

What do you grow?

We grow inside year round in the greenhouse with aqauponics where we grow tilapia, hybrid striped bass, rainbow trout and greens such as a few varieties of lettuce, bok choy, herbs & micro greens. On the farm we  grow organic vegetables, have free range eggs, and grass-fed beef and pastured heritage-breed pork and lamb.

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

The farm was started by the Kohlberg’s  25 years ago beginning with sheep used for wool.  The farm constantly grew with other breeds of endangered livestock – Shetland geese, Shetland ducks, large black pigs and then cattle.

How has it changed over the years?

I’ve only been here 2 years so it’s a little hard for me to speak about that.  One thing we are doing a little different though is crossing Large Black pigs with Berkshire pigs which is another heritage breed.  We’re crossing them to get a more desirable meat.

Where do you sell your produce?

We sell to local restaurants and at the John Jay farmers market as well as Mt Kisco Seafood and Table Local Market .

Tell us about your most successful season?

We do a lot of tomatoes and we seem to be getting more fruit on the plants.  Though in the Fall I’ll know better just how successul we’ve been.

What was your hardest season and why?

The hardest season since I’ve been here was last October when the hurricane hit.  We lost power for 5 or 6 days and our generator didn’t work.  Fortunately, we have a back up to the back up for the fish.  I basically slept here making sure the generators worked, listening for the hum.

What is your favorite thing to grow or raise, and why?

My favorite thing is the aquaponics, it’s my background and I love the idea that you can grow a lot of protein and a lot of vegetables in  a very small space. In our tanks we grow talapia, hybrid striped bass, and rainbow trout.  Through their respiration and through their waste they excrete ammonia which is a form of nitrogen that’s toxic to fish. Through the nitrogen cycle the anonimia is converted to nitrite and the nitrite is converted to nitrate and that’s a form of nitrogen that’s available to the plants.  So the plants take up the nitrate and help clean up the water for the fish and the fish fertilize the plants.  It’s a very full cycle.

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

My favorite thing is smoked trout that I make a pate with using cream cheese, chives, a little dill.  I blend it all together in the food processor and spread it on crackers – or on everything!

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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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