By Julia Howard
Agriculture is vital to the health of rural communities such as the Saratoga region. Yet, for many years, the health of agriculture has been in doubt. The average age of those who farm full-time is over 60, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture continually reports that the number of young people who choose to farm for a living is on the decline.
However, there is a silver lining: According to the USDA’s most recent AgCensus data, a new generation of farmers is on the rise. That generation consists of individuals who are in their thirties through their early fifties. Charles Hanley are among that group.
Hanley is the owner and operator of Hanley Farm, one of the newest produce vendors at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. He returned recently to New York with his wife Michael and two children to take up farming full-time, and currently are leasing land from the Otrembiak Farm, one of the longest running vendors at the Saratoga market.
“I started growing seeds in the greenhouse this just this past April,” Hanley said. “I’ve always been intrigued by the thought of farming, but never had a chance to start a farm until this year.”
The Hanley Farm stall can be found Saturdays at the farmers’ market pavilion at High Rock Park. It is located midway in the market, facing the street. The stall is small, but Hanley’s enthusiasm is reflected in his abundant array of produce: several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer and winter squash, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, watermelon, corn, and herbs. In a few weeks, the stall also will feature Hanley’s favorite vegetable: potatoes.
“I have explored some different potato varieties in my past gardening and planted some of my favorite at our farm this year,” Hanley said. “I find that the difference in taste and texture of a home grown potato is far superior to that of a store bought potato.”
The Otrembiak Farm supports Hanley’s endeavors. “As long as we have the space and people are willing to work the land and learn, we are happy to help,” said Steve Otrembiak.
Hanley Farm also sells at farmers markets in Gansevoort and Queensbury, and at a farm stand at the Crossroads General Store in Chestertown. They can be reached at Hanley.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at High Rock Park.
Cucumber, Carrot, and Cabbage Slaw
Recipe adapted from David Tanis’s Ginger, Cucumber, Carrot, and Cabbage Slaw
Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
* Ingredients found at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
• 1 medium cucumber, peeled and julienned *
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned *
• 2 cups shredded green cabbage *
• 2 cups shredded red cabbage *
• 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro *
• 1 teaspoon peeled and grated ginger
• Juice of 1 large lime
Put the cucumber, carrot and cabbage in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Add the ginger and lime juice, then toss again. Let the vegetables marinate for at least 10 minutes.
Note: Julienned means cut into short thin strips.