Only 12 miles from the Hudson Woods property, Saunderskill Farms is, according to many documents the second oldest farm operating in the country. Still in the hands of the original family, the Schoonmakers, the farm dates back to over 300 years when Peter Stuyvesant himself granted 300 acres of land to Lieutenant Hendrik J Schoonmaker as a payment for military service.
12 generations later, Saunderskill isn’t just an historical curiosity, but is a thriving, growing business with almost 500 acres in production, a sprawling nursery served by 15 greenhouses, a newly expanded 3100 square foot market selling their produce and stocked with scores of other locally sourced goods (bacon! honey! flatbread pizza! granola!), and a brilliant kitchen and bakery serving dozens of fresh items. Those in the area liken the market to a kind of a calendar; one can see the seasons revolve as each newly picked crop finds its way to the shelves.
Drop by on a Saturday, and it seems like everyone in a 30 mile radius has had the same idea. As a bonus, there will likely be draft horses milling about, a vintage tractor show, or food booths from a variety of local “startup” purveyors that are being “incubated” on the property (currently BBQ by Brotherly Grub). More than a farm, Saunderskill Market is the heart of the community and the place where one most notices the burgeoning weekend crowd.
The family partnership consists of “Grandpa Jack”, (80 and still actively farming), his son Dan and his wife Cathy, who manage the market and nursery, his other son David who is the grower. This partnership has recently overseen a period of innovation and improved sustainability. Crops are rotated regularly with soybeans to return nitrogen to the soil, manage weeds and prevent monoculture conditions. They practice “integrated pest management” pioneered at Cornell University to control insects and minimize spraying.
Recently, to increase production in the greenhouses and yet save on heating costs, they installed 2 one million BTU corn burning heaters that heat water that then warms nine 30”x1000” greenhouses while the seedlings are sprouting in the cold month of February. Since the corn is sourced from the 150 acres they sow, they actually grow their own fuel. Asked how they get along, Grandpa says, “we all have our responsibilities, and more than we can do, so we never find fault in the other. Since we formed our partnership in 1980 when the boys wanted to join farm, there hasn’t been a cross word.”
Adds Jennifer, Dan & Cathy’s daughter and 13th generation Schoonmaker, “Our customers are what’s most important to us, and we’re so lucky to have the community behind us. They embrace us when we open in April and we are so grateful for that support for the rest of the season.”
As part of our commitment to such an indispensable part of the community, we will be offering a gift certificate worth $1000 at the Farm Market and Greenhouse to each of our first seven home buyers. If you plan on visiting the property, be sure to drop by the market and experience something truly local.