Monday, December 7, 2009

Windfall on Saveur

Here is a recent piece about Windfall by Cathy Erway from the Saveur website:

Windfall Farms of Montgomery, New York

Source: Saveur
Windfall Farms of Montgomery, New YorkPhoto: sleepyneko/Flickr
It pays to be plucky—at least, that's how the farmers at Windfall Farms feel. Often harvesting their produce the very same morning that they take it to the Greenmarket in New York City, the vegetable farmers have earned a reputation for consistently having some of the freshest, most eye-catching produce.

Sown on land that once housed a dairy operation, the farm was revitalized in 1980 by Morse Pitts, and to this day is maintained without chemical fertilizers or treated seeds. "We are always experimenting in growing rediscovered heirlooms and new hybrid varieties," Tim Wersan, a farmer at Windfall, said. And the offerings already are abundant. If dandelions and heirloom tomatoes have begun to bore you, try moving onto their crisp corn shoots or crinkly husk-covered ground-cherries. An array of colorful edible flowers like squash blossoms and the spicy nasturtium often come in convenient mixes, and they're almost all available until fall. Try pea shoots and blossoms as a salad green or garnish when they're young, and with older ones, try making a delicate-tasting stir-fry
THE FARMCathy Erway is a freelance writer and home cook whose blog, Not Eating Out in New York, is based on her two-year mission to do just that, in the city that never eats in.   Read all posts from The Farm

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Have a Gold Ball

This is Hubert. He is holding one of Windfall Farms' Gold Ball Turnips. This Wednesday, we are giving restaurants a sample of this delicious variety, also known as Robertson's Golden Ball. This year's extended cold weather growing season has meant that the turnips are abundant with particularly high sugar levels.  Their flavor is nutty, sweet and mild, and not acrid like other turnips. Their texture is firm and juicy - good raw for salads or crudités. They are best simmered or roasted, and a superior substitute to potatoes because of their ability to soak-up flavor in stews and soups.

We are anticipating a hard frost at the farm this weekend, at which time the turnips will freeze and die in the ground. Because we have limited root storage capacity, we are harvesting the turnips as demand dictates. Therefore, we are pricing them at fifty cents per-pound (.50¢ / lb.) for orders of twenty pounds and more for pick-up at this Saturday's market. If you have a little storage space, we recommend you get a good amount now as they are a good "keeper" through the winter (after this Saturday, they will be $1.00 / pound and up!).

Windfall Farms is at the Union Square Greenmarket (16th St and Union Square West) every Wednesday and Saturday year-round. If you would like to place an order for pick-up, please order by 12 noon this Friday, December 4th. 845 457-5988

For our non-restaurant customers, here's link to some good turnip info.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trouble in Paradise

Trouble in Paradise: Windfall Farms
Keith Wagstaff and Agaton Strom of Citysearch were at Windfall overnight this past summer to do an online photo essay for the website The Feedbag (self-described as "A Gastronomic Gazette").

We think they did a great job of capturing the farm from such a brief visit, but you should click on the link and see for yourself.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Union Square Riff Raff

Morse's photos around the farm

...and Market.

I managed to wrangle Morse's memory card out of his camera to share a few flicks with y'all. Morse always has a camera and attempts to catch all sorts pf embarrassing and sweet moments. He's captured the farm in every season as well as the whole Hudson Valley, much of it from his recumbent bicycle!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wayne Koestenbaum shoots Windfall for TimeOut NY

Well sort of.

Wayne Koestenbaum was one of 83 photographers, artists and personalities that was sent a disposable camera and challenged them to capture the city as they see it, then asked them about their experience by Time Out NY.

The list includes Drew Barrymore, Marty Markowitz, Jonas Mekas, Sean Lennon and, obviously, 78 other folks. Here's Wayne's flick at the stand.

Check out the rest of his images at Time Out NY.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Maybe bigger isn't better

Since I've been coming across some interesting stories in the news lately, I figured I'd share them with you here on the Windfall blog.

Listen to the story
Small Farmers See Promise In Obama's Plans
from NPR's-Morning Edition

August 20, 2009

Since the 1980s, American agriculture has become increasingly concentrated. Today, less than 2 percent of farms account for half of all agricultural sales. The new antitrust division of President Obama's Justice Department has said that scrutinizing monopolies in agriculture is a top priority.

That shift is giving hope to independent farmers, who have complained for years that agriculture giants are shrinking the marketplace and paying farmers less for their products.

Farmers Welcome A Change

Earlier this month, the Justice Department sent out a news release that received virtually no attention outside the agriculture-centered press.

Starting next year, the Justice and Agriculture departments will hold public workshops in farm towns throughout the United States to learn about anti-competitive conduct in agricultural markets.

The announcement came one day before the annual convention of the Organization for Competitive Markets. The next day, many among the 150 people gathered at a St. Louis hotel for a session — titled "Confronting the Threats to Market Competition" — could not believe what they were hearing.

Small but influential, the nonprofit, nonpartisan group is made up of farmers, academics and others concerned about the gigantification of American agriculture. Its executive director is Fred Stokes, a Mississippi rancher and registered Republican who has been leading the charge for the government to intervene.

"We want to stop this rubber-stamping of every ag merger that comes down the pike," Stokes said. "We want to call in the predators that are putting our farmers and ranchers out of business. We want them to do their job."

Agriculture's Top Cop Speaks

At the conference, the speaker everyone was eager to hear was Phil Weiser, deputy assistant attorney general. He's the "top cop" overseeing Big Agriculture, after being selected by Christine Varney, new head of the antitrust division.

"We recognize this is a very important sector," Weiser said. "This is something that Christine Varney has placed a huge emphasis on. And we need to learn more about it."

It's not the sexiest quote. But just the fact that Weiser came to deliver his first speech since getting his new job to a group of farmers and activists was seen as a break from the Bush administration.

Seeing A Problem: Consolidation

Frustrated farmers claim the operative philosophy of President Bush's antitrust division was, "Let's make a deal."

After some tweaking, the agency approved mergers between Dean Co. and Suiza Corp. to create the nation's largest milk processor; between Smithfield Foods and Premium Standard Farms to create the largest hog processor; and between JBS and Smithfield Beef to make one of the nation's largest cattle feeders.

David Balto, a longtime public-interest antitrust lawyer, says it's hard for people to understand how unprecedented the upcoming joint Justice/Agriculture hearings are going to be.

"Typically, antitrust enforcers sit at their desk and wait till the phone rings, and then decide whether or not to open an investigation," Balto said.

"[Weiser's] saying, 'We're going out there into the areas and meet face to face with farmers,'" Balto said, "and I think they'll get a much more profound understanding of why farmers are being egregiously harmed by the lack of antitrust enforcement."

Seeing A Threat To A Lifestyle

The antitrust enforcers will likely hear from people like Don Quamby, a hog farmer from Wellsville, Mo.

"With the hogs, it's gotten to be where you can't make any money anymore raising them, because the packers own everything," Quamby said.

He said he came to the recent meeting because he's deeply concerned about the death of independent hog farms.

"It used to be you had several different markets that you'd go to in our area, several different buyers," Quamby said. "Now we don't have that."

Asked why consumers should care about the change, Quamby said, "Well, because once the packer owns all the market, they can charge whatever price they want then at the consumer level, once the meat gets to the store."

In agriculture, economic orthodoxy holds that bigger is better. The bigger a food processor or seed company is, the more they can afford for research and development. An economy of scale creates efficiencies that generally mean lower consumer prices.

But that certainly wasn't the sentiment in the hallway outside the meeting room, where farmers wearing plaid shirts and seed caps drank coffee and talked about challenges to their way of life.

"I've got grandsons — 10, 8 and 6," said Jim Foster, who farms in Montgomery City, Mo., "and their ability to raise hogs like I did, as an independent, depends on whether these guys do their job or not."

Government Plans

The Justice Department lawyer told the group that the antitrust division plans to take a hard look at three areas of agriculture.

The first is seed companies. The American Antitrust Institute asserts that in some markets, Monsanto controls 90 percent of the technology behind genetically modified seeds for cotton, corn and soybeans; Monsanto disputes that figure.

The second segment is beef packing. And the third is dairy, where consolidation has been especially dramatic. In the last decade, more than 4,500 dairy farms disappeared every year.

The decline, critics claim, is at least partly the result of collusive and exclusionary tactics by Big Milk.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

“Who controls the seed gains a substantial measure of control over the shape of the entire food system.”

Here's a good short article about the behavior of life-science companies around seed patents. Its the direction food production is going in. It will take a lot of hard work and organizing to combat the behaviors of companies like Monsanto and the Federal government, that protects their interest. First check it out and see if there's anything you didn't already know.

From Daily Yonder

During a recession, with most prices stable, Monsanto raises the cost of its soybean seed by as much as 42%. That tells you a little about how things work in the food business.

By Richard Oswald

Things aren't always as they appear, especially in the production of food.

Aesop, the ancient Greek story teller, told a fable about a farmer who found a stork along with a host of other birds eating seeds from his newly planted field. The stork tried to persuade the farmer that he was still the farmer’s friend even though he was living at the farmer’s expense.

Aesop summed it up with the observation that the stork was no better than the other birds: Birds of a feather flock together.

Thanks to modern farm equipment, seed placement has been improved so that about the only fowl eating my seed dollars these days are a few locally grown wild turkeys… and some corporate hawks from St Louis.

“Farmers are our friends” was the response from Monsanto spokesman Lee Quarles following last week’s meeting held by Organization for Competitive Markets in St Louis, where the issue of agricultural market concentration drew the attention of farmers and government regulators.

Since then, Monsanto announced that seed prices are going up again, based on demand. Of course, anytime someone controls most of a market, demand is always good for them.

Monsanto said that seed prices are headed to about $74 for an acre of Roundup Ready 2 soybeans, a price hike of as much as 42 percent. (Monsanto explains it’s really not that much.)

I have a good mind to do what I did in 1989 when commercial seed costs were only $10 per acre. It was cheaper even then just to take a few dollars worth of seed from my own bin and save about three dollars per acre. Today if I did that, I’d save a whopping $64 an acre.

Don’t tell Monsanto my plan, however, because the company pays detectives to spy on farmer friends who might be tempted to plant home-grown grain as seed.

It is illegal to plant the seed that grows as grain on my own farm. The catch is that even though I may not want the Monsanto genes, if they find their way into my crop from bird droppings or wind or some other act of nature the courts say I’m guilty just the same. These days it’s virtually impossible to guarantee that any crop isn’t contaminated with patented genes. If Monsanto’s detectives catch me transferring seed from granary to planter, I’ll be sued.

Speaking to a group of farmers in Missouri near Mark Twain Lake a couple of years ago, a farmer from Indiana, Troy Roush, said that when Monsanto sued him they took samples of Roundup Ready soybeans in his neighbor's field and claimed they were his. Troy Roush

Troy was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t’

Before seed patents, I had a choice between buying seed or using my own. Today I have no choice at all. I simply have to pay what seed companies ask. If I don’t, my friends in St Louis can pick my carcass barer than my planting options.

The big picture here is that we’ve gotten to the point that a handful of corporations can decide what something is worth without really having a test of the market. I’m sure Monsanto would say, “Go ahead, friend, plant a different seed if you can’t afford ours.” The problem is that according to speakers at the OCM meeting in St Louis, Monsanto controls nearly 96% of the patented trait market for seeds.

That’s just about all of it.

Moe Parr was in St Louis, too. Moe’s story is told in the recently released movie Food, Inc. Moe isn’t acting on screen when he tells about being sued for what Monsanto said was illegally enticing farmers to plant patented seeds. Other seed producers and cleaners were in St Louis to tell of being “warned” about the consequences of their actions.

If Monsanto really doesn’t control the market, why do they sue seed cleaners, the guys that make a living visiting farms to help their friends, the farmers, prepare their grain for use as seed?

Well, it’s because intimidation is a big part of market control.

The truth is that in its fairly short history of being a seed seller, Monsanto has purchased more than fifty seed businesses. Some of them were big players. If nothing else, that’s proof that any corporation can become whatever they can buy.

Food, Inc. Harvesting soybeans. Monsanto is based in St. Louis, and so is its chemical company spin off, Solutia. Solutia was planted from seed sown by Monsanto in 1997, and contained some of Monsanto’s chemical businesses. Burdened by old lawsuits against Monsanto over environmental contamination from stuff like PCB and Dioxin, Solutia entered bankruptcy in 2003.

I guess Monsanto forgot to give them enough money to pay the fines.

Things are looking up for Solutia now that its liabilities have disappeared, and it has emerged from bankruptcy with a clean balance sheet and stronger profits, just like its parent company Monsanto.

That might be a good strategy for the farmers who’ve been threatened and sued by Monsanto, except once a family farm disappears it’s pretty hard to come back as something else.

For most farmers, the greatest benefit of Roundup Ready corn and soybeans has been weed control. Now pests for both crops, once held at bay by crop rotation, overwinter in fields where volunteer crops survive the following year. That means higher herbicide costs, more insect pressure — and higher profits for our friends in the seed and chemical business.

In a November 2008 paper, Jack Kloppenburg, a rural sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, writes, “Who controls the seed gains a substantial measure of control over the shape of the entire food system.” Kloppenburg goes on to state that for true food sovereignty, control of genetic resources must be wrested from corporations and governments and returned to the public, for the public good.

It’s not just seeds, but all of agriculture that needs a makeover. Small dairy and pork producers continue to lose money even as corporate food processing profits are rising. Pork producers like David Ketsenburg of Monroe City, Missouri, struggle daily with markets that are becoming less and less farmer-friendly. Even some large farms struggle.

But vertically integrated corporations that produce and market food directly not only control markets, but the direction profits flow.

Right now those profits are flowing away from farms into some pretty big pockets.

That brings up another of Aesop's fables, the one about the wolf in sheep’s clothing: the power of large corporations to steer public debate about such things as sustainable food production and control the standards for organic products. They make food appear to be something they produce in a friendly partnership with family farmers.

It’s not.

Really understanding the products in those heavily advertised, plastic wrapped packages of food is tough to do, especially when big profits are more important than little people.

But here’s something that most people should understand: Next year, farmers who buy all their seeds from Monsanto could easily pay more to Monsanto for seed than the profit they, the farmers, hope to earn.

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

See our friend Annie and her new digs!

There is a good video, made by some friends, part of a series called New Urbanism. They just made one on rooftop farming, about our pal Annie Novak!
Annie has started a rooftop farm in Greenpoint Brooklyn, to experiment with growing food in densely populated areas. Check it out!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Squash Blossoms!!!

Zucchini flowers, fiori di zucca, flores de calabasa . . . whatever you want to call them they are now in season at Windfall!

This July's issue of La Cucina Italiana magazine features some fantastic summer recipes including a number for squash blossoms. Some of these recipes can get involved, but, as with most fresh vegetables, simple preparation is delicious (we like to sauté them in butter with eggs).

They'll be in season until the first frost in the fall. So, come by the stand and get some!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Windfall Produce in print

If you shop at our stand, you know how beautiful and vibrant our produce is, not to mention its so damn flavorful. Many photographers purchase our greens and other produce to use in their photos shoots. One such customer, Margarette Adams, brought it to our attention the other day that our wild edibles were used for a Whole Living-Body & Soul magazine article.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lucy's Greenmarket Report

Since 1994, long before blogs were called blogs, Lucy Wollin has been reporting on the Union Square Greenmarket through her website, Lucy's Greenmarket Report. Stylishly featured here with a box of Windfall's edible flower mix, Lucy gives morning updates featuring a selection of what can be found at the market that day. Her love of Greenmarket traces back to 1976 when the market first opened and she became a regular shopper there. 
Full disclosure: Lucy was my high school librarian and can research the sh*t out of any variety of heirloom tomato

Monday, March 30, 2009

There's no such thing as an Organic Twinky

I recently spent an afternoon with a friend who is moving away from NYC, he took this photo.
I couldn't help but hear Morse in my head, "even organic Twinkies!", as part of his lecture on the USDA's Organic standards.
Well this wasn't even one of the "natural" attempts at junk food, and it tasted horrible.

reminder, eat your greens!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Not Eating Out in New York

We don't want to be responsible for propagating a nasty rumor, but there's been some chatter about a downturn in the economy. We feel it's our duty - nay, our mission to give some insight into weathering this financial sh#t storm. No time like the present to acquire a few practical skills in the kitchen and gain insight into alternative foraging.  To put it another way, expect to be dining out much less in order to survive this next Great Depression.  

Sadly, many New Yorkers' home ec. skills don't go beyond programming their microwaves. Fortunately, for some time, a few wise, souls have been living within their means and, oddly enough, eating better than most. One of them is Cathy Erway, the creator of, a great resource for anyone seeking a more frugal, healthy, inspiring and delicious diet. The site goes beyond simply providing recipes for home cooking, offering local food-related events, shopping tips and philosophy for tough times ahead. Of course, there is a large "locally grown" aspect to the website and buying fresh and local is an easy way to begin your budget cramped culinary adventure. 

With some signs of Spring (finally!), plants are starting to grow outside again at Windfall and we're looking forward to a great season. We want you to know that preparing meals does not need to be long and involved, especially when the food is fresh. Local, fresh vegetables are not only healthier, but they taste better because their sugar levels are much higher than starchy vegetables bread for long-distance travel. In fact, Windfall's salad greens are so flavorful that many eat them with little or no dressing. It's faster, cheaper, healthier and tastier than the alternatives.

One disclaimer: we are not advocating that you never eat out. There is a glut of wonderful restaurants in New York and one would be hard pressed not to eat out over the course of the week. However, we do hope that your chef's commitment to locally sourcing food on the menu plays a role in considering your choice of restaurant. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Retrovore on Windfall Farms

There is a relatively new podcast site called The Union Square Market Report. Its producers recently recorded a couple of us at the Windfall market stand. The site's subtitle states "weekly news you can use from the New York City Union Square Greenmarket." It's the best produced material on the farmers market that I've come across on the web. On the site you can learn about farmers that don't use any chemicals, including "organic" ones, in their growing process. You can also subscribe to the Retrovore podcast from iTunes and get the full audio and visual experience!

Friday, January 16, 2009


The ongoing construction in Union Square has temporarily displaced us to 15th St and Un Sq West.

This google photo is probably from last summer. So, if you come to Greenmarket, not only will you not see leaves on the trees, you'll find construction fencing along the West side of the Square from 15th to 17th Street. It might take a full minute of searching to find us: we have a bright green bus and cozy heated enclosure.

Click for the Greenmarket link to current maps of what farms are where for each market day (Wed & Sat for us).