Take one look at Pleasant Valley Farm’s well-stocked stand at Saratoga Farmers’ Market, a virtual cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables that is crawling with customers every market, and you might not guess the whole operation started from scratch just over two decades ago. Based in Argyle, New York, the farm is owned by Paul and Sandy Arnold, who are now full-time farmers despite having “grown up in suburbia,” as Paul says it.
Fitting to how their futures would turn out, Paul and Sandy both started out in local nursery greenhouse operations; a few years after meeting, the farm began in 1988 when Paul bought land in Argyle. “Together with Sandy and my father we built buildings, bought tractors, started the farm,” Paul recounts. “We started with just land and built from there.”
Since then, Pleasant Valley has blossomed from that first piece of land to a full-fledged farm. With the help of their two children, Robert, 20, and Kim, 17, Paul and Sandy have managed to maintain a year-round operation. Using three large, unheated high tunnels to grow greens throughout the winter, as well as a root cellar to store over 20 tons of produce under the barn, the Arnolds are able to cater to their customers all year long. “That’s our goal,” Sandy explains, “To keep people coming to the markets year-round to buy fresh produce.”
The operation hosts and trains interns year-round on the farm; Paul and Sandy hope the interns will carry on the legacy of small-scale, organic farming. The farm has been “Certified Naturally Grown” (an alternative to USDA Organic certification) since the 1990s and now has 100% of its power supplied by solar. “We enjoy giving school and community tours, organizing farm tours, teaching at conferences, and mentoring other aspiring farmers,” Sandy says.
The farm’s abundant diversity of vegetables and fruits keeps customers coming back season after season, year after year. While lettuce, spinach and greens are Pleasant Valley’s most popular products, onions, potatoes, kale, and tomatoes are also a hit. According to Paul and Sandy, customers can look forward to fresh carrots and beets in the coming weeks, as well as new garlic in July, a delicious blueberry crop, and abundant fall broccoli, too.
This article was written by Katie Doyle, a summer intern at Saratoga Farmers’ Market. A resident of Saratoga Springs, Katie will be a senior in the fall at Boston University, where she is majoring in English and journalism.
Kale Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
(Items marked with * are available at the market.)
1 fresh bunch of kale*
2 cups grated carrots*
1/2 red pepper* cut into strips
1/2 cup sundried tomato, sliced thin
1 cup sprouts*, lightly packed
Tahini Lemon Dressing
½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
½ cup water
1 large clove garlic, pressed or chopped
Juice of one lemon (2-3 tablespoons)
1 Tbsp tamari
Wash and chop kale, using the stems or trimming from the leaves, as you wish. In a side dish or food processor, mix dressing ingredients. Add dressing to the bowl of kale and toss with carrots, red pepper, sundried tomato, and sprouts.