Hermitage to be ‘farm chic’ tourist attraction

Agriculture tourism turns top shelf next year when 21c Museum Hotel founders Steve Wilson and Brown-Forman heiress Laura Lee Brown expect to launch their renowned Hermitage horse farm as a tourist attraction.Having removed the "no visitors" sign from the quarter-mile driveway, the couple laid out a new vision of Oldham County farmland preservation.No corn mazes, petting zoo or pumpkin patch are in store. Instead, a new kind of Kentucky theme park will draw conventioneers and Kentucky Derby tourists.Barn 8, one of 52 structures on the 700 acres, will become a farm-to-table restaurant of the same name led by a yet-unidentified chef from the East Coast."I am enticed by a chef who is famous to bring attention to the project right away," Wilson said in an interview.From "seed to sip," visitors will learn bourbon production in another building while sampling local distillers' blends. ►RELATED: Hermitage Classic & Fall Festival set for Oct. 22-23 ►READ MORE: 21c Museum Hotel gets partner, plans growth The thoroughbred operation from whence sprang 1953 Kentucky Derby winner Dark Star will open its barn doors east of the 1847 antebellum big house.While not disclosing development costs, Wilson described "a legacy project" with few equals worldwide, a home to art installations as well as a rural refuge for families to ramble or picnic.A quarter mile deep, a rural conservation easement will guarantee motorists everlasting vistas of pasture for the 1.5-mile length of Hermitage abutting Route 42. West of the restored brick mansion with a white-pillared front porch, a garden complex will host the "Bourbon Experience" and the century-old hay barn where guests dine in the former stables of dairy cows while chefs labor in open kitchens. Bison, heirloom hogs and eggs will be sourced from Woodlands Farm, where Brown and Wilson reside nearby.As a child growing up on the Prospect farm that became the Sutherland subdivision, Brown said she still grieves Continue Reading

Louisiana farmers: ‘farm-to-table’ is a buzzword, not a revenue stream

The growing farm-to-table movement seems like it would be a win-win for Louisiana. Farmers get to sell and spotlight their products on local restaurant menus. Chefs get to work with the freshest local ingredients. Customers get to support and learn more about local agriculture.But the movement hasn’t given Louisiana farmers the financial backing they’d like.They say farm-to-table is a buzzword that does little more than market their product. And in some cases, restaurant owners even falsely advertise they are serving goods from area farms the restaurants aren’t purchasing.And they’re concerned with a part of the message that seems to favor small-batch farming over the kind of industrialized process responsible for the state of American farms and the feeding of millions around the world.“It’s a great initiative because it is locally grown and healthy, but I don’t think you have to say just because it wasn’t grown here’s it’s less healthy,” said Steve Logan, owner of Logan Farms. “Don’t confuse buying sweet corn at the farmers market when it’s in season with feeding your family year round on locally grown produce.”Logan grows soy beans, cotton and corn in fields across north Caddo Parish. His profit margins are small and require great efficiency to maintain from year to year, something modern techniques, fertilizers and machinery allow him. Farm-to-table isn’t a term with which he has great familiarity, but he’s noticed a call for “organic” produce and he isn’t impressed.“It just makes them feel better,” Logan said. “Someone out there is working their tail off to get those foods into grocery stores.”Logan and other Louisiana farmers want people to know where their food came from. They want them to know American farmers raise the healthiest and most abundant crops on the planet. They want them to be proud of their local Continue Reading

Chickens born and bred in one-bedroom apartment as part of couple’s local food routine

In a city where the local food movement is growing despite the scarcity of arable green space, one Queens couple has come up with a creative way to ensure they have a ready supply of fresh eggs. Robert McMinn, 45, and Jules Corkery, 45, are raising three hens inside their one-bedroom apartment in Astoria. "I don't think it's the ideal situation," conceded McMinn, a public policy associate at the mental health group Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services. But "they're cute. They're fun to [watch] run around. They're excited when we come home." The pair will talk about their experiences of raising chickens without the benefit of a backyard on Oct. 8 at the Broadway branch of the Queens Library in Astoria. The Serama hens, a small domesticated breed that typically weighs about a pound, nest in a converted ferret cage in the living room, McMinn said. They have the run of the apartment - except for the bedroom - and lay about two eggs each a week. They also have a litter box of sand so they can give themselves cleansing dust baths. But "they poop everywhere," said McMinn, who uses the droppings to fertilize the soil in nearby community gardens. McMinn began raising chickens in Idaho in 2003 to improve his garden, as the birds aerate the soil through their pecking and scratching and eat pests. Three years later, he created a 10-minute community radio show called "Bucky Buckaw Backyard Chicken Broadcast" about the useful pets. The show is now on eight stations throughout the country. "A chicken can save you money. It's a cheap hobby, and it improves your gardening," said McMinn, who doesn't recommend raising them indoors. "You get the eggs and they're delicious." The small brown eggs can also pick up the flavor of what the chickens eat, said McMinn, who feeds his pets table scraps. McMinn and Corkery give lectures at local libraries and urban gardens on the benefits of city chicken-keeping. Joanne King, a Queens Library spokeswoman, Continue Reading

Queens Farm Museum stops selling pork at farmers markets, restaurants

The Queens County Farm Museum has built a reputation among foodies and urban greenthumbs for its wine, eggs and fresh produce. But its homegrown pork was too much for some people to stomach. The farm, under fire from some animal activists, is no longer selling meat at the Union Square Farmers Market and to select restaurants. "People were horrified to find out what was going on," said Caroline Lee, a Douglaston attorney who started a petition drive to raise awareness of the issue. "They went to the farm for a soothing experience," she said. "They viewed the animals there as pets, not meat." Jim Trent, president and founder of the farm, dismissed the protesters as a misinformed minority and said the decision to stop selling meat was a financial one. "It was an economic thing," said Trent. "Every nonprofit is hurting. We try never to run in the red and we decided this was one program to discontinue." State Sen. Tony Avella, a longtime supporter of the farm and a friend of Trent, added his voice to the chorus of objectors. "He was not happy about it," Trent said. Sources said farm officials stopped selling meat at least in part because they were reluctant to create any political tension with Avella and others. The 47-acre farm in Little Neck, which dates to 1697, is touted as the only working historical farm in the city. It's a popular destination for people seeking a pastoral setting in the big city, complete with chickens, goats, sheep and pigs. In recent years, the farm has also tried to practice sustainable agriculture, which includes providing locally raised meat that is not injected with hormones. The pigs were raised on the farm and brought to an off-site slaughterhouse. Lee said she was also troubled that the farm had been cited by state wildlife officials for allowing its staff to cull the large number of ducks and use their meat for food. Trent said the farm did not realize those mallards were considered protected migratory Continue Reading

Would you want a neighbor with a pet goat?

Snowflake the goat has cornered me, nuzzling my hand as she nibbles on my jacket's zipper. "They're very affectionate," says urban goat pioneer Jennie Grant, who owns the 99-pound, white miniature LaMancha. Distracted by Snowflake, I hardly notice a smaller black goat closing in on me until she takes a bite out of my notebook. Behind the roughhewn milking platform, the view stretches out past pavement, streetlights and cars. This is the city, and these are city goats. Urban goat farming is part of a nationwide movement to eat food produced locally — sometimes as locally as our backyards. Successful efforts to legalize chickens in cities such as Chicago and New York paved the way, with ducks and bees gaining ground in many places too. But goats? It's been two hooves forward, one hoof back as the idea has spread to more cities. For every pro-goat Portland, Ore., or Oakland, Calif., there's been a Kansas City, Mo., or Minneapolis shutting the barn door on backyard ruminants. Grant, a mother, student and writer in Seattle, didn't set out to be an urban goat farmer. "I always thought it would be fun to have a mini cow when I was growing up," Grant says. "Then I visited my cousin and his girlfriend in California, and my son and I got to milk her goat. I didn't want to taste it but when I did, I loved it. And I thought, 'here's my mini cow.'" RELATED: Garden of Plenty: An organic miracle sprouts up in Queens Besides gathering up to a gallon a day of fresh milk per goat, Grant uses their manure to fertilize her vegetable garden. Keeping goats in the backyard does, however, mean a fair amount of work and expense, warns Laura Covert of Charlottesville, Va., who has two dairy goats. While she loves their social nature and says "goats are like dogs, but even better," Covert reminds prospective owners that goats need routine veterinary care, including booster shots, worming and hoof maintenance. Their hay can be costly in the winter, and isn't Continue Reading

Food hub ‘job-generating machine’ for West End

In a move to strengthen the production and distribution of locally grown food in Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer this week granted a 24-acre vacant parcel of land in the West End worth $1.2 million to developers of a "Louisville Food Hub."Where National Tobacco Co. once dried, cut and packaged tobacco purchased from Kentucky farmers on 30th Street, the new commercial agriculture park will process, store and distribute locally grown foodstuffs.Seed Capital Kentucky, the hub's nonprofit developer, is pursuing tax credits to fund a warehouse, commercial kitchen and office space. It is negotiating final details with food and agriculture-related companies, including a juicery, an industrial food processor and a 2-acre demonstration farm. The first company to break ground later this year is a privately funded $20 million methane gas plant powered by compost and staffed by 21 union workers.Fischer called the Louisville Food Hub "a green job-generating machine for west Louisville."Although some funding remains uncertain, the $45 million hub may be more critical than a proposed Wal-Mart at Broadway and Dixie Highway to revitalizing the West End, Fischer said. In all, the project could create about 250 permanent jobs and 270 construction jobs. In its first phase, developers estimate the project's cost to be $45 million.Fischer likened government support for the food hub to being as critical to the city's economy as longstanding public private partnerships that develop infrastructure such as roads, bridges and the airport. RELATED: Indiana looks at possibility of local food hubs RELATED: Food truck Fridays at KFC Yum! Center plaza"This is all about the local food scene, healthy living, reducing our carbon footprint and promoting our farm economy," Fischer said Tuesday at Metro Hall.The hub will help fill the gap between consumers and commercial buyers craving local food and the farmers who lack required trucking, storage, processing and marketing support.Louisville area Continue Reading

14 best food, drink festivals in November around Phoenix

Warm, pleasant days and chilly nights make November an ideal month for outdoor events. And while there's plenty of eating with the holidays starting later in the month, you'll want to save some room for these tasty events.This month's lineup includes our very own azcentral Food and Wine Experience, an Instagram-worthy ice cream event and festivals that appeal to pizza lovers, Sriracha fans and vegetarians.11/4: Sriracha FestivalThings will heat up quickly at the second annual festival in downtown Phoenix. Expect dozens of dishes from vendors such as Arizona Street Tacos and Island Noodles; and hot sauce brands like Teriacha and SirHotcha. Bands will perform throughout the day; bartenders will serve signature cocktails; and your little ones can play in the kids' zone.Details: Noon-8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4. Heritage Square, 113 N. Sixth St., Phoenix. $10 for general admission. $75 for VIP package for two. Free for children ages 12 and younger. srirachafestival.net. 11/4: Bacon, Blues and BrewsEnjoy all the bacon you can handle at this Queen Creek festival, from bacon lobster tots and bacon fried rice to bacon flights and pork belly bacon fudge. Wash it all down with craft beers from the Grand Canyon Brewing Company, the Beer Research Institute and more. Blues acts will perform all day.  Details: Noon-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4. Founders Park, 22407 S. Ellsworth Road, Queen Creek. $8-$12. $65 for VIP. Free for children ages 12 and younger. baconbluesandbrewsaz.com. 11/4: OlivepaloozaIt's harvest season, which means it's time for this annual celebration in Queen Creek. Taste olive oil straight from the milling machine; take tractor rides through the back grove; and enjoy live music, cooking demonstrations and dishes from food trucks. Pets are allowed outside.Details: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4. Queen Creek Olive Mill, 25062 S. Meridian Road, Queen Creek. Continue Reading

Small biz focus: Poultry-market supplier becomes mecca for pet owners

With its murals depicting bears at a mountain lake, a dog ogling a bag of treats, and assorted pets, people and product names decorating its façade, the Animal Feeds store on Park Avenue in the Morrisania section of the Bronx is hardly what you’d find on the average city street corner. In its roughly 4,000 square feet of retail space, Animal Feeds carries thousands of items for pets, from food and clothing to shelters − including dog houses, bird cages and rabbit hutches. The store even sells monkey chow for baby parrots. Despite the recent drop in real estate prices, the area’s housing boom has  pumped up Animal Feeds’ business: the store daily attracts more than 100 customers a day, up from about 60 two decades  ago. Sales have climbed 33% the past three years. Another favorable trend has been the rise of urban farming, including the raising of hens for fresh eggs. “It’s a surprising twist because we have a history of selling poultry feed,” said Animal Feeds President Jack Horowitz, 61. His grandfather, Charles Horowitz, started the business 75 years ago as a supplier to the city’s then-live poultry markets. After those markets faded, the business eventually morphed into a pet supply shop, although it kept selling supplies for live poultry. Unlike roosters, ducks, geese and peafowl, city residents can legally keep hens. While the market size for chicken supplies is small, the growing allure of raising hens has benefitted Animal Feeds: Sales of live poultry products, such as food, feeders, medications, incubators, vitamins and bedding, have almost doubled over the past two years. “New York City is lucky to have at least one place like that,” said Owen Taylor, training and livestock coordinator of Just Food in Manhattan. Abu Talib, director of Taqwa Community Farms in the Bronx, buys supplies at Animal Feeds for the 10 hens he’s raising. “Beautiful Continue Reading

Five fabulous and fruitful farms

When the temperatures start to drop, few foods are more appealing than warm apple or pumpkin pies. And they taste even better when they're made from fresh ingredients. Instead of buying your fall fruits at the grocery store, pluck them straight from a tree or vine. Since farms around the tristate area offer extras like hayrides, corn mazes and petting zoos, they're worth traveling the extra distance. Here are five spots you can pick pumpkins and apples, whether you're planning a day trip or prefer to stay right here in the city. Queens County Farm Museum Who says you can't grow pumpkins in an urban environment? The only working historical farm in the city has a whole field of them ready to be picked. Beginning next weekend, visitors can wander the pumpkin patch for free every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. through Oct. 26. If you find one you like, you can buy it for a price based on the size of the pumpkin. If you're there on Oct. 26, stick around for the Children's Fall Festival ($4 per person), when kids are invited to come in costume and can take part in sack races and pony rides. Grownups can dance to country music or check out the crafts and food vendors. Challenge your wits with a 3-acre corn maze every weekend through Oct. 26 from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. On Oct. 18 and 25, the maze remains open until 9 p.m. for a special "Maze by Moonlight." Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for kids 4-11 and free for kids under 3. The Halloween Haunted House - recommended for kids ages 4-12 - is open on Oct. 25, 26 and 31 from 4-7 p.m. Hayrides are an extra $2 per person. And while you can't pick your own apples here, there will be an Apple Festival on Oct. 5 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Apples, fresh-pressed cider and other goodies will be sold. Admission is free. 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, (718) 347-3276, www.queensfarm.org/index.html Apple Hill Farm Apple Hill Farm is just one of dozens of pick-your-own fields scattered across the town Continue Reading

27 farmers markets to pick up fresh, local ingredients in metro Phoenix

Sure there are a few farmers markets that brave Arizona summers, but now is when most are gearing up for another season of wholesome outdoor shopping. Check with your favorite market to learn when it closes for the year, or for changes in hours for those that remain year-round, and remember: Offerings are subject to change. Here's this season's list of Valley markets.RELATED:  Primer on Uptown Farmers Market in Phoenix | 3 healthful recipes from Joy Bus Diner in Phoenix | Eat well, live well with these 4 healthy recipes | Shop smarter: Arizona spring/summer produce guideJames Beard Award-winning chef Vincent Guerithault's influence touches every corner of this European-style market. Shop for buttery croissants, imported olive oil, local honey, mustard, artisan breads and local produce.  After browsing, dine on made-to-order omelets and crepes, tacos, paella, pizzas, pastas, panini and chocolate desserts. Wine and champagne are sold by the glass, bottle and case. Items imported from France include lavender soaps and tablecloths.Details: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays starting Oct. 22 to early May. 3930 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix. vincentsoncamelback.com.This urban market offers downtown Phoenix residents and workers a place to grocery shop. The market showcases seasonal produce from top local growers and artisan foods including grass-fed beef, quail eggs, cheese curds, all-natural horseradish, homemade caramels, shrimp ceviche, vegan and gluten-free foods, cheeses, French breads, pastries, pasta, garlic pickles, local pork, salsas and relishes. Artisans also sell wares as diverse as goat-milk soap and watercolors.Details: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays May-Sep, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays Oct.-Apr. 721 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. phoenixpublicmarket.com.The state’s oldest farmers market offers one of the largest selections of produce, including locally grown Asian produce, Continue Reading