By Elizabeth Horgan
Slate River Farms made its debut at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market in May, with eggs, poultry, and beef. A few weeks later, predators ambushed their flock, causing them to lose half their egg layers.
“We still do not know exactly what happened, but we believe that a pack of coyotes essentially ambushed the flock in broad daylight,” says Nellie Lovenduski, who owns the farm with her husband Eric and father-in-law Paul. “Not only is that super sad for us to lose so many animals all at once, but that also seriously cut into our egg supply for the summer.”
The family, however, regrouped, and Slate River now offers its eggs and meats regularly at the Wednesday market.
Risks of such loss are realities of farm life, and the Lovenduski family has lived with them for generations. The family began farming more than 100 years ago, after Joseph Lovenduski arrived in Burlington, New Jersey, from Poland. The farm saved his struggling family of 16 children through the Great Depression. Later, Eric’s grandfather moved to the Finger Lakes region of New York and farmed more than 2,500 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, and other crops. Eric’s uncle and father continued that practice for decades.
In 2016, Eric, Nellie and Eric’s father decided to re-invent the farm with a goal of providing high-quality meats and eggs to local markets. They acquired land in Easton and began what Nellie calls a “back to our roots” approach, focusing on intensive rotational grazing as the core of their practice. Such a method allows a herd to graze in a section of the pasture one day, and then another the next, rotating so as to allow the pasture time to regenerate.
At Slate River Farms, cattle live outside all year, eating grass from the pastures summer, spring and fall, and during the winter eat hay from their own field as well as organic minerals and sea kelp to boost their health. Chicken spend their days outside and at night are placed in shelters to protect them from predators.
Slate River Farms has received certifications from A Greener World as Animal Welfare Approved and as Certified Grassfed, as a result of their practices. The family takes pride in this achievement.