Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
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Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture is a non-profit farm and educational center with a partner restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located in Pocantico Hills, New York. The Center was created on 80 acres (320,000 m2) formerly belonging to the Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills by David Rockefeller and his daughter, Peggy Dulany. Stone Barns promotes sustainable agriculture, local food, and community-supported agriculture. Stone Barns is a four-season operation.
Stone Barns Center is also home to Dan Barber's Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a restaurant that serves contemporary cuisine using local ingredients, with an emphasis on produce from the Center's farm. Blue Hill staff also participate in the Center's education programs.
Stone Barns' property was once part of Pocantico, the Rockefeller estate. The stone barns themselves were commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to be a dairy farm. The complex fell into disuse during the 1950s and was mainly used for storage. In the 1970s, agricultural activity resumed when David Rockefeller's wife Peggy began a successful cattle breeding operation.
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture was created by David Rockefeller, his daughter Peggy Dulany, and their associate James Ford as a memorial for Peggy Rockefeller, who died in 1996. Stone Barns opened to the public in May 2004.
Episode eight of Top Chef's fifth season was filmed at Stone Barns, where competing chefs used the restaurant's kitchen to prepare a meal for the farm's workers and their families.
The farm at Stone Barns Center is a four-season operation with approximately 6 acres (24,000 m2) used for vegetable production. It uses a six-year rotation schedule in the field and greenhouse beds. The farm grows 200 varieties of produce year-round, both in the outdoor fields and gardens and in the 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) minimally heated greenhouse that capitalizes on each season’s available sunlight. Among the crops suitable for the local soil and climate are rare varieties such as celtuce, Kai-lan, hakurei turnips, New England Eight-Row Flint seed corn, and finale fennel. The farm uses no pesticides, herbicides or chemical additives, although compost is added to the soil for enrichment. The farm has a six-month composting cycle using manure, hay, and scraps from Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
Stone Barns Center raises chickens, turkeys, geese, sheep, pigs and bees suited to the local ecosystem. The livestock farmers try to raise animals in a manner consistent with the animals' evolutionary instincts. The chickens, turkeys, sheep and geese are raised on pastures kept healthy and productive through carefully managed rotational grazing. The sheep and pigs’ bedding packs are regularly turned and composted. Farmers who raise animals in this fashion are frequently called "grass farmers" because there is so much emphasis on the health of the pastures. Strategies for maintaining the pastures include intensive paddock management so the grazed area has ample time to recover and provide a natural refuge for birds and other wildlife, essential for the maintenance of ecological balance.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
In spring of 2004, Blue Hill at Stone Barns opened at Stone Barns. The restaurant sources many ingredients from Stone Barns fields and pastures. Its executive chef and co-owner is Dan Barber, who also owns Blue Hill in New York City.
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- Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
- Blue Hill at Stone Barns
- New York Times, 2003: The Estate Next Door
- New York Times, 2004: Dine at the Rockefellers', Get in Touch with the Earth