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Inside Steven Alan

A Visit with Shady Acres Organic Farm

  • Shady Acres Organic Farm jams are a new addition to our home goods. The delicious flavors – Blue Barb and Caramel Pear – have quickly become a hit with customers and are now a breakfast staple in our own kitchens. The certified organic farm, located about 60 miles northwest of NYC, also happens to be run by family of our very own Matt Finkle, who heads up staff training for the company. Matt’s mom Ana recently talked to us about the jams and farm’s history:

    How long has the farm been in your family?
    The farm was bought by my parents in 1956. They had emigrated from Europe, spoke no English (only Russian and French), and were determined to embrace the American Dream. In the 50s the farm served as a boarding house (today’s bed and breakfast) to Russian speaking emigres who longed for fresh air, good home-cooked Russian food, and the opportunity to be on a working farm in the country. The farm had free ranged chickens, grass and orchard fed pigs, and gardens plentiful with fruit and fresh vegetables. We were “organic” before it was fashionable to be organic!

    How has the farm grown and changed since then?
    As my parents aged, the boarding house closed but the chicken portion of the farm expanded. At one point, we had 6,000 white leghorn egg producing chickens. Eventually, the chicken farm went the way of most farms in the area. The cost of farming and a meager market return made most farms close and sell their land off for homes due to increased land taxes. Such was the case with my parents until they asked my husband and me to move in and take over the land so that it would not all be sold off to pay the taxes. My husband and I were both educated, working professionals. We both worked, raised three kids, cared for my elderly parents, and then retired. Despite being busy with everyday life, we always kept up caring for the land. Then in 2009 our son Matthew convinced us to get certified organic. Three months later, we were certified and a new chapter in our lives began.

    When did you start canning and making the jams?
    I learned how to “can” when I was six years old. If it could go in a jar, my mother got it in there, including fish and meat. I am not a fan of canning these items, although I do know how. I got my Master Preserver Certification through Cornell University. I grew up being taught never to waste anything. As a result, I started to transform our surplus fruits and vegetables into value added products.

    I get bored rather quickly and although I can all the essentials that we need for the winter (tomatoes, tomato sauce, beets, beans, pickles), I love to make jams, jellies, relishes, and chutneys I love to experiment and create new flavors.

    The flavors are so distinctive (and delicious). How did you come up with them?
    Our Blue Barb Jam was created because I developed an allergy to strawberries, so instead of strawberries and rhubarb, we decided to try it with blueberries. We have a plentiful supply of rhubarb, which sells great in the spring, but then the excitement wears off and I have rhubarb growing through November. Hence the other rhubarb jams emerged. Our Gingered Rhubarb is great, especially if grilling chicken.

    We have a Kiefer pear tree on the property that has been producing pears since I moved here in 1956. It is prolific. I am not a fan of pears but the Caramel Pear Jam that I make tastes just like apple pie. It is delicious. Again, I got bored making the Caramel Pear and decided to add the pears to the Gingered Rhubarb, and now we have Gingered Rhupear. Try heating it up in the microwave and putting it on ice cream. Yum.

    Our blueberries are plentiful and are used for the Blue Barb Jam, but after further experimentation, we also developed our Spiced Blueberry Jam. We’re told it tastes “just like Christmas.”

    What’s next?
    We’re currently propagating red and black currants and hopefully this coming year we will have a large enough supply to market the jams and jellies that we have been enjoying for years. In addition, I have just planted 60 raspberry bushes. How does Raspeno Jam sound (raspberries with jalapenos)? It has such a hot Latin feel.

    Many thanks to Ana and Matt! You can find Shady Acres Organic Farms Blue Barb and Caramel Pear jams at our Tribeca, Chelsea, and Hayes Valley stores as well as in our web shop.

    This entry was posted on Friday, December 7th, 2012 at 12:53 pm and is filed under Food, In Stock, New Arrivals. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

One Response to “A Visit with Shady Acres Organic Farm”

  1. [...] We are so thankful for the response to our jams!  We are very proud of them.  They are made in small batches with careful attention to ingredients and flavor.  Recently  we were interviewed by Steven Allen.  I posted it on our Facebook page but realized that many of our readers may not have accessed the interview.  If you have not read it I am providing you the link. [...]