Fishkill Farms is a historic apple orchard that has been in the Morgenthau family for nearly 100 years. After leasing the farm to outside management for a period, Robert and Josh Morgenthau, the second and third generation of the farm family, took the operation back in 2007. Soon, a team began to develop, and Josh took over management of the farm. With the hard work and dedication of the team, Fishkill Farms has grown from a conventionally farmed apple orchard in need of new trees and new tractors, into a diversified, ecological farm with new orchards and infrastructures. Here are the additions to the farm in the past few years:15 acres of diverse vegetable plantings, pasture-raised hens, many acres of new fruit trees, farmer's markets nearby and in New York City, and a pick-your-own CSA. The mission of the farm has been to marry its historic identity as a family "u-pick" apple orchard, with the Fishkill Farms team's shared goals of diversification and environmental stewardship through sustainable farming methods.
This growing misson-based business has had to overcome its share of challenges. In the spring of 2009, the farm's barn complex was totally lost to a fire. A 100 year old timberframe barn and more recent packing shed and cold storage additions were destroyed. Luckily, no people or animals were hurt. Unfortunately, many valuables, from farm equipment to irreplacable family heirlooms were lost. But after weathering an exceptionally rainy season without a barn, the farm was able to rebuild in the spring of 2010. If not quite the same scale as our previous buildings, the new pole barn nonetheless has a grand stature in the landscape, and is better tailored to the new operation. When fully complete, it will include an apple cold storage room, a machinery workshop, vegetable and fruit packing facilities, and a cider room. A final bit of exciting news: we recently received a grant from the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program which will, along with federal and state assistance, make feasible the installation of a rooftop photovoltaic array on the new barn. This will allow us to generate over 50% of the farm's energy needs. 2010 has proved to be the dramatic opposite of 2009—lots of sunshine and not much rain, and other than some thirsty crops, it has been a great growing season. Disease control was easy and, from tomatoes to apples, flavor has been superb.
We believe that, though a farm can be many things, at the center it is a working place where food is produced. One of the greatest global challenges we face is to grow food in harmony with nature. Good agricultural practices benefit our health today and for generations to come.
We are committed to steering our farm away from outside inputs and towards a self-sustaining system. We are confident that even in our difficult New York climate, we can grow good apples-- apples that are nutritious for us and for the land. We pledge to improve our growing methods each season in service to this ideal.
What happens to food after it is harvested can be as important as what happens before. The community that supports our farm is as crucial as the soil in which the crops are grown.