David Bowman, owner of Malta Ridge Orchard & Gardens, got his start in farming growing up on an apple orchard. This agricultural aspect of his childhood planted the seed for what is now one of the most diverse vendor stalls at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, where he sells a plethora of products, from baked goods to broccoli, from poultry to plums.
“I was actually raised on an apple orchard,” Bowman says. “In 1980, we started on our own. When we bought it, it was just an apple orchard,” he explains, adding that he and his wife, Robin, decided to expand into all varieties of fruits and vegetables, “because you can’t just depend on income in September and October.”
As Bowman explains, it was Malta Ridge’s initial involvement in selling a diversity of fruit that landed the farm a spot in Saratoga. “They basically begged us to go up to the market, because no one else had plums and peaches back then.”
Since his start at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market roughly 30 years ago, Bowman has also tried to build up his business at the farm itself, but says that it can be difficult, because he thinks people just don’t visit farms like they used to. “People are too busy, have other things to do,” he says. “The fall we’re swamped, but the rest of the year, we have to draw them in here.”
Bowman’s efforts to build up Malta Ridge’s home base have actually turned out to be surprisingly fruitful, literally. “We have pick-your-own strawberries, pears, plums, peaches, prunes, blueberries, apples,” Bowman says, adding that the list of fruit offerings resulted in a whole new niche for Malta Ridge to explore: homemade pies. That led to more baked goods, including cookies and baked apple chips.
Naturally, as the farm started to grow, so too did its waste, explains Bowman. “There’s so much waste that comes out of a farm, between vegetables that are yesterday’s and corn that’s a day old. I couldn’t see dumping it,” he says.
Thus, Malta Ridge acquired beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and this year, even added rabbits. “You use the land to make feed for the animals,” he says, “And every time you do something, it expands to something else.”
Crispy Kale Chips
1 bunch of Malta Ridge kale
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
Cut the main stems out of the kale leaves, and cut the trimmed leaves into large, chip-size pieces.
Place the kale, olive oil and salt in a plastic bag, and shake to mix up.
Bake at 185 degrees for 45 minutes, checking periodically for preferred crunch.