By Kimberly Maul
Here at Nona, our first love is for urban farming and those who are growing produce, keeping bees, and making great food and drink right here in Brooklyn. But for some of us city-dwellers, although it might feel a little bit like cheating, there is nothing like getting out to the country to visit a farm with beautiful scenery, animals grazing the pastures, those fragrant farm aromas, and, of course, food that’s as fresh as you can find anywhere.
I first heard about Sprout Creek Farm from Alyssa Becker at Da Vine Provisions, who sells several of their cheeses. So when a few friends and I planned a summer trip to the Catskills, I knew we had to stop by the farm, which is outside Poughkeepsie, NY, to see some cheese-making in action.
Sprout Creek Farm encompasses 200 acres of farmland, forest, streams, ponds, wetlands, hedgegrows, hills and rocky soils in Dutchess County, NY. It is a working farm, raising free-range cows, sheep, goats, wild turkeys, guinea fowl, chickens, and pigs. It also has a market, selling their award-winning cheeses and farm-produced meats, local Hudson Valley milk, eggs, vegetables, crafts, and gifts. And it is an educational center offering a variety of programs that aim to connect young people to, “the land, the seasons, and the plants and animals that co-exist here in harmonious rhythm.”
We were a bit unsure about what to expect, but the farm was perfect for a quick visit, and would be a great destination for a longer trip (they have a cottage available to rent on the farm). The pastures of Sprout Creek were filled with cows, goats, pigs, and poultry, in addition to giant sunflowers and a vegetable garden.
We started off our visit by learning how Sprout Creek makes their goat and cow’s milk cheeses, watching through a foggy window as a man worked to separate curds and whey. The very friendly staff then gave us a tour of the rooms where they house the cheeses as they age and develop a rind.
After learning about the cheese-making process, we sampled 10 different cheeses, mostly named for various people, animals on the farm, or even just their batch number. Batch 35 is a raw cows’ milk cheese with a buttery taste and a washed rind. (We learned that a washed rind is also called a smear-ripened rind, and that the washing allows for a softer and often more pungent cheese.)
We also tried smoked Ouray, which was firm and buttery with a delicately sweet flavor, and Lizzy, a goats’ milk cheese with a musky flavor and a smoky aftertaste. My personal favorites were the Bogart, a big-bodied, salty cheese that had a hint of almost cheddar flavor, and the Doe Re Mi, a smooth and creamy chevre.
After our cheese tasting, we moved on to some Amish Goats’ Milk Maple Fudge, which was super creamy with the perfect hint of maple, and the farm’s own homemade ice cream. Their Coconut Almond Joy flavor featured pieces of coconut along with chunks of rich chocolate and almonds – there’s something super-satisfying about enjoying ice cream on a beautiful summer day, right on the farm where it’s made, steps away from the cows that provide the cream.
Most of us don’t get enough chances to see first-hand how our food is actually made, so it was rewarding to experience the cheesemaking process at Sprout Creek. Their products are all natural with no preservatives, and all the cows and goats are grass-fed and pasture-raised, something that I like to think comes through in the amazing flavors in their cheese.
Several locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn sell Sprout Creek Farm cheeses, including Da Vine Provisions,Stinky Brooklyn, Bedford Cheese Shop, and Fairway in Bklyn, and Murrays’ Cheese Shop, Saxelby Cheese, and some Whole Foods locations in Manhattan. You can also order online.
Sprout Creek Farm
34 Lauer Road
845-485-9885 – Market and Creamery
845-485-8438 – General Information