Getting into the “Local First” Mentality with Poughkeepsie’s Sprout Creek Farm
By Sabrina Sucato
Sprout Creek Farm is nestled in the heart of the Hudson Valley, a burgeoning hotspot for New York City weekenders. It started out as a quiet presence in the community, so quiet that it wasn’t on my radar for years, and I live right around the corner. In my defense, there are so many farms in upstate New York that it’s hard to tell one from another.
Yet Sprout Creek is different. Yes, it’s a working farm with a gourmet market, just like many other farms in the area. But Sprout Creek Farm has a meaningful mission at the heart of everything it does: Educate. Cultivate. Inspire.
“There’s a sincerity in what we do,” said Mark Fredette, executive chef at the farm. In addition to managing catering orders for customers across the State, Fredette also prepares food for all of Sprout Creek’s on-site events. On the day I spoke with him, he had just wrapped dinner service for the dozens of hungry campers attending one of the farm’s summer programs.
“We serve 6,000 meals in eight weeks,” Fredette said. While that number could be intimidating for a small-scale operation that relies largely upon farm-sourced ingredients for its meals, it becomes even more frightening when you take into account that many of those mouths to feed belong to a young and picky audience. I was surprised when Fredette revealed some of the camp’s menu items, like sauteed red kale and homemade granola bars. Fredette was even planning to whip up a few fried chicken feet for a handful of adventurous campers who had made a special request.
At Sprout Creek, food is honored, not consumed mindlessly. Education is the thread that weaves that honor through school programs, community events, and market stalls. Creating a Sprout Creek meal is a journey that starts in the dirt and takes time. There are no drive-through, to-go options at the farm. “Instant” is the antithesis of Sprout Creek’s approach to food.
Take its cheeses, for instance. The Sprout Creek Creamery does not cut corners to produce its five different housemade cheeses. They offer both raw and pasteurized milk cheeses, all made on-site in the Sprout Creek Creamery from antibiotic- and hormone-free milk of the farm’s own herd of mixed-breed cows and goats. The animals are happy and well cared for, and the Creamery staff swears that the key to their award-winning cheeses is the rich, unique Hudson Valley grass on which Sprout Creek cows and goats graze freely.
This year, Fredette and his team have quietly started to roll out their next venture: Chef’s Table. The limited seating dinner event features a private tasting menu that embraces farm-sourced ingredients. Sprout Creek will experiment with bold elements, like cheese curds with lime basil and garlic scapes and beef tongue with kimchee, to introduce diners to the beauty of unexpected pairings and underappreciated local produce. If all goes well when the farm begins accepting reservations in August, Chef’s Table will become a permanent experience at the farm.
Sprout Creek still hosts community Burger Nights, which routinely sell out, and will continue to support annual events for local charities like Big Gay Day Out. Even with big plans for the future, including a menu collaboration with American Airlines, Sprout Creek maintains the “think local first” mentality that matters most. The farm honors its roots as it continues to grow, drawing inspiration from the land it loves.
Sprout Creek Farm34 Lauer Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Originally published at www.eatnewyork.nyc.