Farming has a 400-year heritage in the Hudson Valley. Some of the oldest farms in the valley are also some of the most innovative. Here, you’ll find one of the largest growers of organic tomatoes in the northeast, orchards experimenting with organic growing methods, farms capitalizing on selling development rights and one of the area’s largest livestock farms collaborating with a local brewery to raise beef on spent grain.
Thanks to generations of farm families and a reawakened consumer consciousness about just what “good food” really is, the agricultural economy in the Hudson Valley is a little better these days.
Hepworth Farms (est. 1818)
The current (seventh) generation of the Hepworth family includes five children; and with nearly 1,000-acres under production and 250 workers (at the height of the season), it produces more than 400 varieties of certified organic produce. The farm located in Milton (Ulster County) is the largest grower of organic tomatoes in the Northeast.
The Orchards of Concklin (est 1712)
The Orchards of Concklin, in Pomona (Rockland County) have been in the Concklin family since 1712, making it the eighth-oldest family-run business in the nation. The orchard relies on highly efficient, very dense planting patterns with built-in trickle irrigation and trellises to maximize growth potential.
Prospect Hill Orchards (est. 1817)
Owned and operated by the Clarke family, Prospect Hill Orchards in Milton (Ulster County) is one of the first orchards in the region to utilize low-spray, integrated pest management (IPM) practices. The sixth and seventh generation family members now running the farm continues to experiment with organic growing methods.
Stuart’s Fruit Farm (est 1828)
In Granite Springs, Stuart’s is the oldest apple orchard in Westchester County. Founded as a dairy farm, the family shifted the focus to fruit in the 1920s and currently farms 200 acres of apples, pumpkins and vegetables. Like many farms, Stuart’s faces constant development threats. But sixth-generation farmers Bob and Betsy Stuart, who live in the property’s original 1760 farmhouse, have no plans to leave. In our 2014 interview, Betsy declared, “Suburbia’s closing in on us, but we’re not selling.” In 2016, the family sold the development rights to the farm, ensuring the land would always be farmed.
Hemlock Hill Farm (est 1939)
Laura DeMaria and her father John run the 120-acre livestock farm in Cortland Manor, raising 100 head of grassfed, brewers-grain-finished grain-finished Black Angus cattle each year. They also raise heritage hogs, lamb and chickens. But perhaps they’re best known for their Thanksgiving turkeys. In 2006, the DeMarias sold the development rights to preserve the land as forever farmland. Now the farm has a newly renovated USDA-certified processing/butcher plant that can process all the animals raised on the farm (and service lambs and pigs for other farmers, too). Fresh (unfrozen) cuts are available for sale at the on-site market along with organic produce, eggs and more.