Good Fruit Grower

April 15

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Profiting from BUY-LOCAL M any Hudson Valley farms are finding direct marketing and creation of interesting products a good way to profit from the burgeoning interest in buy-local. The most unusual farm on the International Fruit Tree Association's postconference tour was Fishkill Farms. (Kill, by the way, is the Dutch word for creek, and New York was originally founded by the Dutch.) Today, Fishkill Farms is being farmed by a 29-year-old novice farmer named Josh Morgenthau. Should that name sound familiar, his grandfather, who once owned the farm, was Henry Morgenthau Jr., the U.S. Secretary of Treasury under President Franklin Roosevelt during his entire nearly four terms in office from the Great Depression to near the end of World War II. He played a major role in designing and financing the New Deal and U.S. participation in the war, and in Lend-Lease after the war. Morgenthau had agricultural roots. He was publisher of the American Agriculturist farm magazine from 1922 to 1933. He and Roosevelt were personal friends, with Roosevelt also living nearby at Hyde Park. When first elected in 1933, Roosevelt appointed Morgenthau governor of the Federal Farm Board, from which he later moved to Treasury. Josh's dad, Robert, now 93, was the district attorney for New York City's borough of Manhattan from 1975 until retiring in 2009. Today, Josh, 29, is developing a farm that sells products certified under the Ecological/IPM label. It by Richard Lehnert also has some organic plantings. The 270-acre farm includes 50 acres of apples, 25 acres of stone fruits, berries, and 20 acres of vegetables and pumpkins. It is mainly a pick-your-own operation, but it also operates a CSA and sells through farmers' markets. Josh is developing new plantings using bark mulch to suppress weeds. "We don't use herbicides, but we can," he said about growing under the Eco label. Bark mulch has been studied at Cornell for a dozen years, and compares favorably with herbicides in controlling weeds, and greatly increases organic matter, but is a more costly approach. Retail operations create interesting products to sell. Harvest Spirits Distillery is the brainchild of Derek Grout, who built it in 2007 to produce seven products, including Core Vodka, Hudson Valley Apple Brandy, and Cornelius Applejack. The fermentation vats, still, barrels for storage, and the tasting room are contained in one large room, where visitors can experience the whole process. 24 April 15, 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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