By Julia Howard
Local farmers, who offer their products at Saratoga Farmers’ Market, raise specific breeds of animals for various reasons: good temperament, ability to improve cropland and wildlife habitat, ability to produce high-quality meat and poultry, and to produce products such as wool.
Jim and Himanee Gupta-Carlson’s Squash Villa Farm in Schaghticoke is home to several heritage breeds of chicken, including Ameraucanas. This species lays remarkable green eggs and produces dark, lean meat, an attribute of its active nature.
“Ameraucana chickens take approximately six to twelve months to reach a harvestable size, compared to other breeds that can mature in just weeks,” says Jim. But Ameraucana chickens are well worth the wait. Their flavor is rich and complex and perfect for roasting and simmering in sauce or stew.
At Longlesson Farm in Buskirk, Angus cows happily graze on 450 acres, rotating between fields. One of the farm’s owners, Christophe Robert, explains that their cows breed with the best Angus bulls. Christophe bases bull selection on calving ease, growth, and meat quality, but they also focus on docility and maternal attributes.
Mary and Bob Pratt, from Elihu Farm in Easton, have been breeding sheep for over 30 years.
“We realized that having a greater variety of fleeces would work better for our sales,” says Mary Pratt. “That meant we’d have long wool (from Romneys) and medium wool (from crossbred sheep).”
Pratt notes that the breed does not affect the taste of lamb, which mainly depends on what they eat and how long they hang at the butcher.
Hebron Valley Veal owners Ariel Garland and Matt Campbell attribute the remarkable taste of their products, in part, to their whole-milk-fed calves from the farm’s herd of pastured Holsteins. That breed is notable for its milk production.
At Pork and Greens in Castleton, pigs of various breeds spend their time rooting, grazing, and lazing through their wooded spaces. A mix of species ensures diversity in characteristics and genetics, according to farm owner Isabel Buenaga.
And, at Ramble Creek Farm in Greenwich, Josh Carnes takes pride in his herd of grass-fed Angus and Hereford cattle. It’s also home to forest-raised heritage-bred pigs and pasture-raised poultry.
This week’s recipe: Roast Heritage Chicken with Carrots