Inga Howe-Geniesse

Farmers of New York: Richard Giles and Lily of Lucky Dog Organic

“We’ve been here since 2011,” says Richard Giles, owner of Lucky Dog Organic, “we’re in the Western Catskills, in Delaware County, in a tiny little village called Hamden. In the truck it’s about 4 hours to the Union Square Farmers Market.”

Richard Giles and Lily Lucky Dog

Inga Howe-Geniesse

“We grew 55 acres of vegetables this year. Here, we sell at the Fort Green Market, we sell to restaurants here, and we also transport all kinds of food for our neighbors– other farmers upstate near us who are part of the coop.”

“This morning we had kale, collards, leaks, and other greens here on the tables, but that’s very unusual for this time of year [it was mid-January when we spoke], because we’re colder than New York City– we’re higher elevation. But this year it’s been so warm that we’ve had greens all along– we still have them!”

Richard Giles and Lily Lucky Dog

Inga Howe-Geniesse

“We also have carrots, beets, sunchokes, garlic, onions…sort of German food,” he laughs. “We love potatoes– we’ve always grown several varieties and it really gets us through the winter; potatoes and onions are the big storage vegetables. Sunchokes are new to us, but they’re very interesting: they’re a tuber from a type of sunflower plant– they’re really sweet and kind of coconutty. They have some agents that help people with diabetes– but mostly they just taste good.”

Richard Giles and Lily Lucky Dog

Inga Howe-Geniesse

“I grew up on farms in the South, in Mississippi– I managed farms down there, but then I ended up way up here. It’s very very different,” he laughs. “For one thing, I worked on big, commodity farms down there, and here we’re a small vegetable farm. The main difference is the climate, just learning what things grow where. Some things grow better here, like lettuce– we grow lettuce all summer, we use compost made out of our own grass and our neighbor’s manure. We’ve been organic since 2001!”

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