The idea for Kinderhook Farm was conceived shortly after Steve and Renee bought their second home in Ghent, NY in 2001. Just down the road existed a beautiful old 1,200 acre farm. When they learned that it might be put on the market, Steve began to think about how he could buy and preserve this farm as an open space while retaining its beauty and function as a farm. As a business man and manager of money, Steve knew he needed an experienced partner to run the farm. Steve called an old friend, Lee Ranney who with his wife, Georgia, were raising cattle in West Virginia. He asked Lee to come up to Columbia County and take a look at Kinderhook Farm and persuaded him to become partners in Kinderhook Farm. Lee and Georgia agreed, Steve bought the farm, and soon after Lee and Georgia moved into the charming, 18th century post-and-beam cape at the entrance to the farm.
The previous owner had been raising dairy heifers for other farmers. It was a system heavily dependent on calories from corn and the confinement of animals. Our dream was to preserve the beauty of the open land, and raise happy and healthy animals on a natural diet. Sustainable farming was a way to do both.
The task at hand was to clear acres of overgrown bush, plan the pastures, repair and build miles of fencing, and plant grasses which would nourish our carefully selected cattle and sheep and produce consistently high quality meat. By 2011, with the help of full time farmer, Harry, part time farmer, Jules, and many interns and summer workers we are have accomplished our goals. Kinderhook Farm grass-fed beef, lamb and free-range chicken ( and soon pork! ) is now available to butchers, restaurants, and at our farm store.
An important part of the farm story is the people. We feel extremely fortunate that Kinderhook Farm has evolved into a place that attracts people of all different interests, ages and backgrounds. We get the opportunity to share our love of farming with a broad community. Chefs stop in and sometimes cook up a meal. Parents stop by with children eager to collect eggs. Neighbors show up to take hikes through the fertile pastures. And aspiring farmers and neighbors are often on hand to help with special projects and daily chores. And sometimes cocktails are served on the back porch during a particularly glowing sunset!
We now have an "intern house" on the farm where young people with an interest in any aspect of sustainable farming can stay for a paid internship during the summer. These young farmers are of immense help on the farm. They help feed the chickens, assist at working the sheep and cattle, man the farm store, or tend the gardens, depending on their interests. Harry and Jules certainly appreciate help with fencing and bailing and storing hay.
These days, Steve continues in his financial business and Renee, an artist, works in her studio on the second floor of an old barn. She is represented by The John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY. Together with Lee and Georgia, they continue to grow the farm in a way that benefits the land, the animals and the community.
Renee's inspiration for the FarmStay was an old red barn which sits on a hill overlooking pastures of grazing cows and sheep. Because it was such a special place it inspired Renee to think of how the barn's potential could be fully explored.
The vision of a rustic yet elegant barn where guests could enjoy an independent stay began to emerge as a possibility. It wasn't long before Renee sketched a design and carpenters were hired. One side of the barn was opened up and screened. A kitchen was constructed and a new cedar bathroom was added. The barn was thoroughly cleaned and repaired and the search for furnishings began.
This spring the Kinderhook farmers are creating a kitchen garden so that FarmStay guests can tend and harvest whatever is ripe for daily meals. Containers will soon be filled with old fashion flowers and herbs. This summer is the grand opening!