Hawthorne Valley Farm

For the fall issue of Edible Hudson Valley, I visited the Hawthorne Valley Farm. This is one of the good places in the world. Here, bread is baked from grain grown on the surrounding fields. Sauerkraut ferments naturally in a cellar. Cheese is made by hand using milk from cows that live on the farm. To spend an afternoon speaking with Martin Ping is to feel inspired for a great future.

photos at Hawthorne Valley Farmindustrious workers at Hawthorne Valley Farmphotos of flour at Hawthorne Valley Farmcheese making photo at Hawthorne Valley Farm photo by Jennifer May

Grass-fed Road Food

On assignment last month, I visited a diner in Hudson, NY that is worth a stop on any road trip through the area. Grazin’ is Animal Welfare Approved and sources all of its meat, dairy, and as much fruit and veg as possible, from local & AWA-certified farms – usually no more than 12 miles away. The hamburgers are juicy and fresh, and the milkshakes are out of this world. See Peter Barrett’s story in the December Chronogram for more.

Grazin Diner Hudson NY photographed by Jennifer May

More Adventures in the Midwest

I spent part of last week with Amy Thielen, back in Two Inlets, Minnesota. We got up at dawn every day and drove around the northern part of the state, taking photographs for her upcoming cookbook. We visited a 100-year-old fish-smoking house, fishermen on Lake Superior, farmers, and more of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. Such beautiful country.

Driving through fields, chasing the dawn light.
A farm in Minnesota with chickens, horses, ducks, turkeys, kittens, and a toddler running around in a kind of harmony.
Flying out of Fargo, North Dakota

Ramp Foraging for the New York Times

Reporter Indrani Sen and I followed ramp foragers deep into the Catskill mountains, to write and photograph a story for the New York Times’s Dining section. Standing in the forest, surrounded by acres of the pungent wild greens, I did wonder if I was seeing something that would be legendary a generation from now. Read Indrani’s thought-provoking article on the danger of over-foraging to feed a populace with a growing passion for wild, local foods, and here are some of my outtakes from the shoot. If you have land of your own, consider planting your own ramps. Seed & bulbs available here.

Handfuls of very early spring ramps.
Forager Christopher Field, left, and farmer-forager Rick Bishop, right, in the Catskill mountains in early spring.
Forager Ken McGuire forages for ramps in Ulster County, NY
Young ramps, cleaned in the river.

Restorative Agroforestry in Honduras

A shout-out to my brother, Ryan May, who is living in Honduras and planting a 3-acre garden for a community of people living in desperate poverty. In four months Ryan – and the small team of eager children and inexperienced adults he has patched together – have planted 3000 pineapple plants, 1.5KM of sugarcane, 700 bananas and plantain, 500 papayas, 100 passion fruit, cacao, tamarind, and more. To see Ryan’s photos of the project visit his blog. (Mind the nude under-the-waterfall shot.)

Ryan May, agroforester. Photographed on Salt Spring Island, B.C.
The train Ryan rides to access the community & garden. After the train was robbed and people’s shoes were stolen, he bought a motorbike.
Ryan bought watering cans for the residents and is teaching them how to care for their new plants. Here are Edwin and Carlito.

How to Plant Garlic (Audio Slide Show)

Planting garlic is extremely easy. Put single cloves into the ground in the fall, and harvest full bulbs the next summer. A farmer friend came to visit me in Woodstock, NY, and planted garlic in my deer-proof garden. We took photos and captured sound and made this very brief slide show for anyone else who has never planted garlic before.

Watch and listen to the very brief (1.5 min) audio slide show here.

how to plant garlic
Garlic cloves separated from the bulb, ready to be planted

Rooftop Farming

Six floors up, with a view of the Manhattan skyline, the trend of urban farming is exemplified by the Brooklyn Grange. This one-acre farm produces a wide range of vegetables that supply New York City restaurants as well as several weekly farm stands. Ben Flanner and his crew planted the Brooklyn Grange in spring 2010, and plan to expand the farm to more rooftops throughout the city.

Brooklyn Grange urban farmer Ben Flanner
Ben Flanner, head-farmer and co-owner of the Brooklyn Grange, sprays diluted pepermint Dr. Bronner's soap on cauliflower plants to deter aphids.
the Brooklyn Grange is planted on the rooftop of this building
A one-acre farm grows on this rooftop in Long Island City, NY.

Artisanal Vinegar

For the July 2010 issue of Chronogram magazine, I met a Benedictine monk who makes artisanal vinegar at a monastery in Lagrangeville, NY. Read Peter Barrett’s full story here.

Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette a benedictine monk who makes artisanal vinegar
Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette at the monastery near Poughkeepsie, where he lives and works. Brother Victor is also shown in the garden where he grows and harvests herbs to flavor the vinegars.
Apricot vinegar and special reserve vinegar - produced, aged, and bottled on site at the monastery

Rabbits for the NYT

I was asked to visit a rabbit farm to photograph a rabbit for the front page of the New York Times’s Dining section. Of course, I gave them a bunch of options. Here is the one that ran, and if you click through you will see more of the Dining editor’s favorites on the NYT Blog. You will also read a lot of irate comments from readers. People canceled subscriptions they were so angry about this story. To paraphrase a poster with a different attitude, ‘It seems it’s only edible if it’s not cute.’

Outtakes from the rabbit cover

A March 2010 Dining cover story in the New York Times

Core Vodka

Micro-distilled Core vodka is made exclusively from apples grown on Derek Grout’s family farm in Valatie, NY. The pear brandy is amazing, too.

Derek Grout of Harvest Spirits pours off a sample of vodka to check the flavor
Taste test
Core Vodka, at home

The Harvest Spirits website

Farm Stay – NYT

Stony Creek Farm in Walton, NY, offers tent style camping (complete with flushing toilets, indoor gas stove, a wood floor platform, and furniture) to people who want the farm and camping experience without all the roughing it. I shot a story about it for the New York Times.

Slide Show – Farm Stay

Stony Creek Farm in Walton, NY, shot for the New York Times

North Winds Farm

Obviously, I don’t shy away from meat. But like so many others, I was a strict vegetarian for almost a decade. Luckily, there are now sources to buy meat that comes from well cared for animals that lived decent lives. On a recent shoot with farmer Richard Biezynski at North Winds Farm near Tivoli, NY, he told me if he hadn’t become a farmer, he would have been a vet. On season, you will often find me visiting his booth at the Woodstock Farmers’ Market.

Farmer Richard Biezynski and his son, Russell, at Northwind Farms, where they raise pigs

Wild Boar Weekend (Audio Slide Show)

The folks at Brooklyn-based A Razor, A Shiny Knife (self-described as “an educational, social and theatrical culinary experience”) hosted a weekend event near Ithaca, NY in which guests witnessed a boar journey from farm to table. I photographed and captured sound from the all-day event for the New York Times. Follow through below for the audio-slide show.

Audio Slide Show on the New York Times’s site (2:14 min)

Shot for the New York Times’s Dining section
Food stories in New York's Hudson Valley and beyond from photographer Jennifer May