It starts with the soil. Abundant farmlands provide Ulster communities with access to fresh local food, as well as economic diversity: According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, Ulster County’s average total income per farm is $87,477, as compared to the state average of $23,362. Ulster County is ranked third statewide in fruits, tree-nuts, berries, apples, and sweet corn production. On a national level, Ulster County is ranked 15th overall for apple production. Building on that, Ulster County’s 2040 plan foresees the county as the most dynamic and resilient food system in the nation, where local growers will work together with local food and beverage manufacturers, distributors, and retailers—like the ones below—to supply an array of healthy products that not only sustain our residents, but provide food security for New York City and the surrounding region.
Leslie Woodward, chef and holistic nutritionist, founded artisanal nut milk company Edenesque in a purpose-built co-packing facility at Kingston’s Cornell Creative Business Center, which offers employment and other support for persons with disabilities. The location serves her company’s goal of diversity in hiring as she devotes her culinary talents to community wellness and justice by marketing a simply made, additive-free product. “There’s such a big network of like-minded people, peers, and producers here,” she says. “One of my key principles is employment justice; I was able to reach out to a Family of Woodstock task force and found an employee who’d been previously incarcerated, and it’s worked out beautifully for us both.”
Pika’s Farm Table
“The county was very helpful in acquiring our building—they helped us get a bridge loan,” says Luc Roels of Pika’s Farm Table in Lake Katrine. Luc and his wife, Pika, produce gourmet scratch-made Belgian meals like rustic pot pies inspired by the Bouchée à la reine, a classic in French gastronomy; quiches and tarts; and authentic Belgian waffles. “We wholesale to a lot of city clients, and feel lucky to have a location as accessible and affordable as what we found here,” Luc says. “Being able to produce less expensively than the city competition is a great selling point. And the farmers’ markets are still one of our better and cheaper ways to do product testing.”
“We just opened our tasting room in June 2021, and it feels as though both locals and visitors are wonderfully supportive of farm-to-table wine,” says Casey Erdmann, co-founder of Fjord Vineyards, which leverages the terroir of the Hudson Valley to craft world-class wines. “This area has definitely turned the corner in that regard and we’ve been having a great year. " Erdmann’s husband and cofounder, vintner Matthew Spacarelli, studied the art and the nature of this section of riverbank at the venerable Benmarl Vineyards in neighboring Marlboro, and the couple focus on applying minimal intervention techniques to grapes that thrive in the microclimate produced by the topography of the Hudson Fjord between Storm King and Mount Beacon.
Arrowood Farms has evolved into a brewery, distillery, and dining and entertainment destination since its founding as a hops farm in 2013. “Our location in Accord is the most important part of our story,” says Jacob Meglio, co-founder and managing partner. “Everything we do—the hops we grow for our beer, the local grains we source for our spirits, the farm-to-table foods we prepare with ingredients grown onsite and by neighbors—is rooted in this region and its rich agricultural heritage. We’re a small farm that strives to uplift other growers in the community, while educating and engaging visitors in the bounty that is unique to Ulster County.”