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One Note From Field Notes

July 31, 2018

Last night I organized an Official Yelp Event at Lansing Farm to get some of the more active members of the Yelp Community a taste of Field Notes.

I’ve written before about the Sunday brunch chefs Joan and Kyle offer at the farm. And one of these days I’m going to make it to one of their slightly more formal Saturday night dinners. Formal may be the wrong word, since they are still on the farm. However they are multi-course prix fixe affairs.

Heck, it’s been a long time since I’ve made it to the farmers market in Troy, but now that Field Notes has a booth there, that may be a big enough draw to get me out on a Saturday morning. Plus Joan and Kyle are bringing their culinary talents to Tuesday night pop-ups at Rare Form. I’m also overdue a visit to the little Troy brewery that could.

There are so many pictures of last night’s event already on Yelp. You can see those and read about the experience here. Including some notes on the beers that Ben from Chatham Brewing brought along to pair with each of the courses.

The things I took away from this experience could easily fill a week of blog posts. And maybe it will. Because there is a beer learning I really want to share, but most people don’t want to read about beer on Tuesday. That’s fair.

But sometimes urgent and pressing food stories preempt scheduled posts, so today I want to make sure to write about the one important thing everyone should know.

More than a few people came up to me last night and asked me if Lansing Farm had ever been on the Tour de Donut. And the answer was no. For some reason, this small farm, so close to the geographic center of the Capital Region, was left out.

As we were making expeditions to different outlying areas to visit farms in the countryside, there was no tour where Lansing Farm would be a natural fit. In some ways its greatest asset, became a liability.

For the record, I am going to correct this oversight in the fall. This year the Tour de Donut will be a wild card round, where great places that were accidentally excluded can have a chance to skip directly into the finals.

It will also be a round for places where we may have had a bad experience with an otherwise good donut. For example, the batch we evaluated at Saratoga Apple was cooked in oil that just slipped into rancid territory. But the rules of the competition are that we can only evaluate the donut’s we are served.

But I digress.

What I want to talk about is the reason why Lansing Farm never made it into the tour in the first place, and I suspect it has something to do with this. When people think of farms, or when they want to visit farms, they think of something far removed from where they live.

In some ways that makes a lot of intuitive sense.

There is a lot of land. Some of it is good for growing food. Some of it isn’t. One might think over time, the farms would go where crops do well, and population centers will be built on land less well suited for the task.

Except that’s not quite how things have worked out. Thank you suburban sprawl. The land belonging to Lansing Farm on Lisha Kill Road used to be larger than the approximately twenty acres that it is today. The story I heard was the one of the uncles had sold of a parcel to developers, and now its housing.

This is a common story of American farmland, and it’s an unfortunate one. Especially if you like the idea of small scale agriculture, biodiversity, and maintaining the heritage of multi-generation farmsteads.

Here’s the good news. There are Lansings prepared to take over the farm from Farmer Al when he’s ready to pass the land along to the next generation. In the meantime, he’s a force of nature himself, and for our dinner last night picked his 50 best ears of sweet corn from the fields.

Holy cow that was delicious.

The one thing you should know is that there is an effort underway to protect the remaining farmland from future development. There is a Facebook page called Friends of Lansing Farm. If this is something of interest to you, you should give it a like. While you are there, pay particular attention to this post on why the farmland should be protected. And this post with information on the legislators to get in touch with about supporting a conservation easement.

We’ve lost a lot of farmland over the years. But we don’t have to lose more. Small farms in suburban settings aren’t just valuable reminders of the past. They are still valuable to the community. And if I learned anything from last night’s event, they are getting more and more valuable all the time.

With the addition of Field Notes, Lansing Farm has become a culinary destination. And there is absolutely no excuse for missing out the good stuff they are making.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. B. Maggi permalink
    July 31, 2018 12:29 pm

    Your comments ring true. When my wife and I pick apples in the fall, we like to go far from where we live so that it becomes a trip, an adventure into the country if you will. However, when we pick berries we like to stick close to home. This farm is too close to be an “apple destination” but maybe for berries we will check them out.

  2. Kat Wolfram permalink
    July 31, 2018 6:41 pm

    Thanks for your immediate understanding of and need for a conservation easement for Lansing farmland! We need people who love fresh food and can appreciate the haute cuisine of a restaurant right on a farm brought by Joan and Kyle of Field Notes NY. Farm food and saving farmland should be a part of the Creative Economy, don’t you think? I have shared your blog with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy so they can see how the greater community supports Lansing Farm.

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