A 900-acre Demeter certified 650A Biodynamic farm in central Columbia County, NY

Fast Facts & FAQ

Fast Facts

Total acres owned (all under Conservation Easement) 500
Total acres leased 300
Acres in vegetables 15+
Full-time farmers 6
Apprentices 5-6
Number of dairy cows 60
Average full-time salary, including benefits $38,000
Total farm sales, excluding Farm Store $2 million
CSA members 300


Bakery Questions

What do you have that is wheat-free?

Our Sourdough Rye and Hazel Sweet Sourdough Rye breads, and our Hazel Sweet Sourdough Slices are made with 100% rye flour. Our Whole Grain Sourdough Spelt and Whole Grain Spelt breads and our Sourdough Spelt muffins are made with 100% whole spelt flour. Rye Spelt Sourdough is made with 50% of each grain. Our Spelt Almond Cookies are made with 100% whole spelt flour. All of these flours are ground fresh in our bakery! Also, our “Krunch Bars” are made with no grains at all!

What do you have that is sugar-free?

Our sourdough muffins/slices are sugar free. They contain fruit, which gives them some sweetness, but they are hardy, chewy, and more like a bread than a “sweet”. All of our breads except for Cinnamon Raisin and Egg Bread are sugar free. Our granolas are sugar free, two sweetened with honey, and one with maple syrup. Our Honey Cookies are made with honey and fruit-juice-sweetened organic jam. Our Whole Wheat Honey Mixed Berry Muffins and our Krunch Bars are sweetened with honey.

What do you have that is yeast-free?

All of our Sourdough breads, as well as our Sourdough muffins/slices, are made without bakers yeast. (All of the breads in the middle case, plus the Spelt Sourdough and the Rye Spelt Sourdough)

What do you have that is gluten-free?

All of our baked goods contain some gluten, with the exception of our Krunch Bars. Since the Krunch Bars are made in the same bakery as all of our wheat breads, even they may contain some traces of gluten and cannot be considered totally “gluten free”. Some people with wheat sensitivities find that they enjoy our sourdough rye breads and/or our granolas. Although spelt is a close relative of wheat, sourdough spelt can also be a good alternative for some people.

What do you have that is whole wheat / no white flour?

Our Seven Grain and Sunflower Millet Breads contain no white flour. Our Sunflower Flax and Peasant Sourdough Breads, Baguettes, and Rolls are 8 parts whole wheat flour to 3 parts white flour, so they are mostly, but not entirely, whole wheat. Spelt and Rye breads (except for Caraway Rye) are white flour free.

What is a hermit cookie?

A Hermit cookie is made with hazelnuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon.

What’s this hazel sweet rye bread?

The dough is solid rye and sour – very moist, dense and chewy, and contains prunes, raisins, dates and hazelnuts. (Ben recommends slicing and toasting and adding some avocado and sauerkraut!)

What is spelt?

An ancient cousin of wheat, spelt hasn’t been hybridized to the extent that wheat has and has a pleasant, grainy wild taste. The seeds from the spelt plant are ground into flour (similar to the way wheat is processed) but spelt has more protein and many people find it easier to digest than wheat.

Creamery Questions

Is your cheese made with raw milk?

Our hard cheeses (which are all aged more than 60 days) are “raw milk” cheeses. Some heating of the milk is required in order to produce the cheese, but the temperatures used are below those that cause pasteurization. The law requires us to pasteurize milk for all dairy products that are not aged at least 60 days, so our fresh Bianca cheeses, Buttermilk, Yogurt, and Quark are all made with pasteurized milk.

Does your cheese have rennet?

Our cheese uses a vegetarian substitute in place of rennet. There is no animal rennet used in our cheese.

Can I purchase raw milk from you?

Our raw milk is sold at our on-farm natural foods store in Columbia County, so come see us to get some – we recommend calling our Farm Store first to make sure it’s available! It is illegal to sell raw milk off of the farm in New York State, so we are not able to sell it at any of our Green Market locations.

How come I can buy raw milk cheese from you but not raw milk?

Raw milk cheeses are legal because if there were any harmful bacteria present in the milk, the aging process of the cheese would take care of them.

What is Quark?

A fresh, fermented, spreadable cheese made from our organic cow’s milk. Many people use it in place of sour cream, ricotta or cottage cheese. It is similar to fromage blanc.

What is Bianca cheese?

Bianca cheese is a fresh, spreadable organic cheese patterned after a goat milk chevre, but made from organic cow’s milk. We make it every week on the farm – it gets packaged on Thursday or Friday and is generally good to eat for at least a week after the “sell by” date. It comes in many different flavors, please ask for samples!

General Questions

What is Biodynamics?

Short Answer:
It is a type of organic agriculture, based on the ideas of the philosopher Rudolf Steiner.

Medium Answer:
Biodynamics can be called “organic plus”. Biodynamics views the farm as a whole, interconnected organism, and tries to take as little input from outside the farm as possible. The animal and vegetable components of the farm complement each other, with the (composted) manure from the animals providing the fertility for the vegetables. We also apply homeopathic remedies (called “preparations”) to the fields and compost to improve the vitality of the soil, and try to take into account astronomical influences, such as moon cycles, on the growth of plants.

Longest Answer (when combined with above):
Biodynamics was created in the early 20th century before chemical use had become common in agriculture. It is based on a series of lectures given by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, whose work also led to Waldorf education, and to Anthroposopy, a “spiritual science”. In a series of lectures in 1924, Steiner outlined his ideas on how to actively work with the life-giving forces of nature to help renew the vitality and fertility of farms.

Are you certified organic?

Yes. Our farm is certified organic according to the federal government’s USDA organic standards.

What is Demeter?

Demeter is the certifying agency for Biodynamic farms. It is an international organization with affiliates in many other countries.

Where is your farm? Can I visit?

Our farm is in Columbia County New York, near the town of Hudson, about 2 1/2 hours drive north of New York City. Visitors are welcome. If you call the farm ahead of time, you may be able arrange to take a tour, as well. The Farm and Arts program has organized educational activities such as gardening, working with lambs and others that can be signed up for in advance.

Are you connected to a school?

Our farm is part of the same non-profit association as the Hawthorne Valley Farm School, a Waldorf school for elementary and high school students that is across the road from our fields. Students from the school visit and work on the farm as part of their curriculum.

Meat Questions

Are your cows free range/pastured?

Yes. They are only in the barn when necessary — during our twice-a-day milking sessions and overnight in winter or other times when the weather is too extreme for them to be out.

What do you feed your cows?

We rotationally graze our cows on our pastures. When fresh pasture is not available, they eat dried hay and fermented hay that we prepare during the summer and store away for the winter months. While they are lactating, the cows receive a small amount of organic grain each day to keep them in condition. We mill the grain ourselves on the farm.

How many cows do you have?

Our herd size fluctuates but, generally, we have about 60 dairy cows.

Do you use any antibiotics or hormones?


What do your pigs eat?

A variety of different organic foods including the whey that is produced when we make our cheeses, unclaimed leftover bakery products, organic produce and other leftovers from our store’s deli, stems and seconds from the vegetable fields, and plants and insects that they scavenge for themselves while rooting around in their pastures. If these sources run short, we supplement with organic grain.

Sauerkraut Questions

How long will this keep?

Before opening, our lactofermented products should be stored in the refrigerator, just as one would store apple cider or milk. If the jars are kept full and cool, they will usually keep for at least 6 months. After they are opened, if allowed to sit untouched in the refrigerator for over a month or two, depending on how “juicy” the batch is, the top layer may “dry out” and the flavor of that layer of sauerkraut could be compromised. The remedy for this is to remove the top layer, and a little more, to where the sauerkraut is still moist and fragrant.

How do I know if it’s still good?

We don’t advocate eating anything you’re not sure about, however, the pH of our products is low enough so that if there’s a problem with it you will be able to tell. We recommend that if you’ve stored a partially consumed jar of sauerkraut for a long time (see above), and find that you don’t enjoy the remainder, that you replace the jar.

Does it have dairy in it?

There are no dairy products used in any of our lactofermented sauerkrauts, pickles or juices.

What does “lacto” mean then?

“Lacto” refers to “lactobacillus” bacteria, a family of bacteria that are also present in mother’s milk, and are widely believed to be beneficial to our digestive and immune systems.

What are the health benefits of eating this?

Our products, if unheated, contain significant amounts of vitamin C, digestive enzymes, and lactobacillus bacteria. These bacteria are similar to the ones found in “probiotic” supplements. Some good references regarding the benefits of Lactofermentation are: Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz (www.wildfermentation.com) and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

How do I eat this?

Generally, these products are good eaten by themselves, or with many foods either high in protein, complex carbohydrates, fats or a combination of the three! Keep reading for a seasonal list of delicious ways to incorporate our products into your menus.

Sauerkraut Serving suggestions:

Winter (or any time!):

  • Use as a condiment with a nice hot bowl of soup
  • Add to freshly made grains, with some avocado or tahini sauce
  • Eat with any beef, chicken or fish dish
  • Right out of the jar!

Spring (or any time!)

  • On spinach salad (add ginger carrots and ruby sauerkraut for a beautiful effect!)
  • As a condiment with an omelet

Summer (or any time!)

  • Add to a sandwich, burger or hot dog
  • On any salad, with avocado and fresh garlic

Fall (or any time!)

  • In Carrot salad, with ground up nuts and shredded apples
  • With ground up sunflower seeds, salt and avocado rolled in a raw kale leaf