trusted new paltz farms / killer cats

I keep a running list of businesses I think should exist in New Paltz, so if I’m chatting with someone who is looking for a job I can suggest they start a tempeh factory, or an arty movie theater, or a biodiesel plant, or whatever. Right now I would very much like to see a little service where people would come and scoop up the mutilated animals that your cats so enjoyed throughout the night and toss them in the backyard far away from where you lay out in the sun. Can you put a mutilated mouse carcass in the compost pile? I think I will not.

Tenderhearted vegans can’t possibly be expected to do this, can they? The broken and bloody mouse currently in two pieces on my nice soft pink carpet still retains vestiges of it’s Mickey Mouse cuteness, and I am having a very hard time scooping her up (all mice are girls in my book), even after laying a paper towel shroud around her. No friends, tenants, or lovers are around that I can pass the broom to, sigh.

In case you’re wondering (I’m sure you were not, but I’m going to tell you anyway), I have absolutely no problem with my cats killing mice – I just don’t want to be involved (and it does upset me when they torture them, which they always do). I’m not one of those touchy-feely cat people who wants their cats to be just like people. Cats are hunters. Cats have long sharp teeth for tearing into flesh, long sharp claws for ripping skin, spring-loaded reflexes for sneaking up on prey.

Humans, of course, have none of this, which is the ten trillionth insanely obvious reason why cats should eat meat and humans should not. Cats will eat a plant if that’s all there is to eat, and vice-versa. Today there is more to eat than meat, and so humans should revert to the diet we have so obviously evolved to need – plants. But a taste for flesh seems to be addictive, does it not?

Speaking of food (and things that are not food some of us put in our mouths anyway), I put up a list of good farmers on the right over there —->

Three sisters Farm in New Paltz has no website, but they are good, and they have a hand-embroidered sign – how awesome is that? They are a spin-off from the excellent Meadow View Farm run by Bart Colucci. They specialize in chilies and other Mexican favorites.

When I moved to New Paltz, I felt lost for a few months while I weeded out (pun!) the best farmers from the ones who didn’t share my values. One of my first local purchases was a big sack of apples from a farm where I immediately turned around to see giant containers of apple pesticide in a barn just next to the bins of rosy-cheeked apples. I really needed a guide like this. Once I found the eco-friendly farmers – the solar tractor people, the ones who use reclaimed washing machines to spin their greens (Kira uses mine!), the hand-weeders, the Certified Naturally Grown purists – I held them close.

That list represents not only the best New Paltz farms from my perspective, but pretty much the only farms I will buy from, aside from a few teeny tiny farms who don’t have websites. If you know of a great farm I should add to the list, let me know.

There are a few farms I left off the list because they sell too much meat for my taste: Veritas Farm is one of those. I adore farmer Jessica, and her produce is great. She’s the only person I’ve ever found who grows corn I trust. She uses the Veritas land, but doesn’t actually work for the farm (at least that’s my understanding, correct me if I’m wrong). Veritas Farm is a meat farm, one of those farms featuring “heritage breeds” and nonsense like that that Slow Food people cream their pants over, and I can’t put in a plug for them.

(Wow, that sentence got really dirty at the end there, didn’t it?)

Speaking of corn: most organic farms don’t grow corn because it’s difficult and uses a lot of land. Everyone I know used to get corn from the Bruderhof community – these quasi-Amish peeps who have a community in New Paltz – but this year there was a big scandal about them suddenly spraying (scroll down here to read about it), so there goes that. Their corn was always super wormy, too, unlike Jessica’s perfect ears. She told me she thinks she tricked the worms because it was her first year growing in that location and they didn’t know she was there yet.

My farmer friend Ron once told me that non-organic industrial agriculture corn is so toxic that the pickers wear full body suits to harvest it, and since then I’ve been obsessed with finding safe corn. I also stopped buying corn husks in Mexican markets for my tamales for that reason – I’m sure they are drenched in pesticides and whatnot, and I’ve never seen organic corn husks anywhere. Now I dry all the corn husks from Jessica’s corn and am saving them to use throughout the year for tamales. (I share this because I feel just a wee bit brilliant for thinking about it.)

If you want to maintain complete vegan purity, I should tell you that Four Winds Farm, Meadow View Farm,  Phillies Bridge Farm and Taliaferro Farms all keep and kill animals. I’m not sure about Bradley Farm. Billiam at Liberty View keeps chickens for eggs, but as far as I know he doesn’t kill the non eggy chickens. And Billiam is such a community asset and a sweetheart that you’ve got to love him pretty much no matter what. Now that I think about it, I think Pete Taliaferro might only keep chickens for eggs too. I’m going there to pick up 15 lbs of romano beans today, I’ll ask him. [Update: they do eat some of their chickens. Apparently they are something called “stew meat” which seems to mean that they are a lesser-quality meal. Mostly they use them for eggs, and they have a nice big chicken world to run around in, if that makes a difference to you.]

Most of my list of farms are not certified organic – most adhere to standards (their own or others) that are way beyond organic. Being an anarchist and seeing as how the USDA organic system is a shambles, I don’t worry about the certifications and pay close attention to what farmers tell me about their growing practices. As a bonus, I’ve become pretty knowledgable about the farming world in the process.

The only farm on the list that I know sprays anything is Jenkens-Lueken. I believe (but am not positive) they spray once a year in the springtime. There might be a better place to get apples (like Billiam at Liberty View), but I have a weakness for Pink Lady apples, and Jenkens-Lueken is the only farm I know who grows them (somewhat) sustainably. Plus, I like the woman behind the counter. She liked my “The only Bush I trust is my own” shirt that I forgot I was wearing when I dashed out of the house for a quick apple run last year (I feel silly wearing shirts like that anywhere but Bloodroot and home), so there you go.

So, dear farmer friends, be sure to let me know of great farms I’m forgetting or – could it be? – have yet to discover!

Blood-breath Noodle the cat is currently drinking out of my water glass. Ugh.

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