By Frances Wilson
I was going to write this earlier – but I’ve been too busy in the kitchen cooking all the veggies from our CSA! Now that Summer CSA season is over, it’s nice to think back over the season and memories of the farm trip we took on Sunday, October 16.
On the trip: Howard, Nancy, Meline, Alex, Katwy, Pina and Thomas with their adorable little boy Hanno, and me, Frances.
It was a beautiful autumn day when we piled into a van and set out for a two-hour drive up to the west side of the Hudson. The sun was out and the festive leaves were waving at us as we drove through memories of Howard’s old bike trips and got ourselves tangled in heated political conversations.
We arrived at the farm and met Zelaika Clarke, Amy’s niece. And then Amy Hepworth came out with her farm partner, Gerry Greco.
Amy is a 7th generation farmer. Her family has been farming in Milton, NY since 1818. She converted her farm to organic in the late 1980s. Any land that Amy touches is lucky; her farms improve the quality of the soil they occupy drastically. Amy now oversees 1,000 acres of farmland and has over 100 varieties just of tomatoes – wow! Her operations make up the largest independent organic farm in the region.
We stood overlooking the Hudson River as Amy described the beautiful challenges of the Hudson Valley. The land is mountainous and rocky, which is not the typical choice for farmland. Pests and diseases arrive to the Hudson Valley before going anywhere else due to its unique climate. This means that Amy gets to be the first to discover bugs and diseases that may lead to major crop failure.
Amy took us on a tour that included the Bunker, where produce was washed and stored at the ideal temperature; an enormous refrigerated warehouse, where squash and tomatoes were piled high in giant crates as well as small bins; her modest office; and then into the fields and greenhouses.
There were so many hot peppers. Fields of them and huge greenhouse tables full of peppers drying. This was where I discovered a new favorite pepper: the Trinidad Perfume Pepper. It has a spicy pepper flavor without the heat. A total game-changer for the taste buds. Thank you for the intro, Amy!
Amy herself is quite an inspiring and sensational character. Over the years, her passion has shifted—no longer is it just about feeding people; instead, it’s about the community. Hepworth Farms has become an integral part of the local economy. Her production feeds the community through her produce and jobs and she loves working to build a better workforce. If she ever stopped production, the community would take a very hard hit. But it’s not just Amy’s local community; she’s also involved in the global community and the future of agriculture through her support of independent research and Land Grant Universities that are not supported by chemical companies.
We were incredibly grateful to Zelaika, Amy and Gerry for the tour of Hepworth farms and on our ride home, we reflected on the following:
We had a wonderful trip with new friends, and although we ended up with a flat tire on our way home, we all came away happy. Thank you Hepworth Farms and thank you Sixth Street CSA!
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