Though it’s been hard to wiggle free of winter’s icy grip this year, signs of spring are beginning to appear at Kilpatrick Family Farm in Middle Granville (Washington County). The staff of the farm, which produces vegetables and berries, as well as poultry and eggs, is busy starting crops indoors for the coming summer.
“We’re super excited for the new growing season. We’ve worked hard all winter to have the greatest selection available. We’re trying some new greens, tomatoes and other vegetables,” said Michael Kilpatrick, the farm’s co-owner. Kilpatrick is excited about revealing a big surprise for the farm coming this spring.
At the indoor Saratoga Farmers’ Market at the Lincoln Baths, Kilpatrick Family Farm’s table in March features greens, such as lettuce, spinach and kale. Although greens have been precious this winter, the farm will have an “explosion” of many varieties by the second half of this month, according to Kilpatrick. Many types of hardy vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and beets are also available.
“The very cold temperatures this year have made it harder to produce abundant winter greens like spinach and mixed salad greens, but as things start to warm up, we look forward to bringing those back to market,” notes Kilpatrick.
“After a few warm winters when we grew accustomed to having a wide selection of greens all winter long, we’re reminded this year that our new farming technologies such as climate-controlled hoop houses or high tunnels have their limits versus super-cold temperatures. Sometimes, we just have to wait for the weather to warm up.”
Even though the colder temperatures have made cultivating crops more challenging this winter, Kilpatrick has had a busy start to 2014. To begin the year, he got married. His wife, Savannah, is no stranger to the hard work of farming, since she met Kilpatrick during a rigorous farm internship program in the summer of 2012 at Polyface Farms in Virginia.
Kilpatrick has also traveled during these colder months to speak at several agricultural conferences on topics like season expansion and the farm’s use of social media and other marketing programs. “Farmers use the winter months to network, learn, and plan for the coming season, and I like to share some of what I’ve learned on our farm, which uses organic methods and is Certified Naturally Grown,” comments Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick Family Farm manages more than 500 acres of land, sells at farmers’ markets, and also is represented in some local retail stores. The farm focuses attention on many different aspects of modern-day farming, including soil health and fair wages, as well as giving back to the community through soup kitchen donations and future-farmer education.
Looking ahead to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market’s outdoor season, which begins in May, Kilpatrick expects to have another busy year. “We are in the process of hiring a Market Stand Manager, who will oversee the crew and sales of our crops on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We already have started signing up members for our CSA (farm share) program, which usually averages about 200 to 300 households. Our summer season CSA share distribution begins on May 3, but anyone interested in participating in our year-round CSA can join at any time.”
(*Ingredients available at market)
1 Tbsp butter or oil
1 cup diced onion*
1 cup peeled, grated sweet potato*
½ tsp salt (divided)
2 cups peeled, grated red beets*
2 cups shredded red cabbage*
1½ quarts broth or water
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar*
1 Tbsp dried dill
Salt and pepper
Optional garnish: crème fraîche* or plain yogurt*
Heat butter or oil in bottom of 5-quart soup pot. Add onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add sweet potato, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt, and continue cooking for another 3 to five minutes. Add beets and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Pour in broth or water, and another ¼ teaspoon of salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. If you want a thicker soup, use a blender to puree a small amount of the cooked vegetables, and then return mixture to soup pot.
Remove from heat and add the apple cider vinegar. Stir in dill; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot or chilled, with optional dollop of crème fraîche or plain yogurt on top.