Regenerative Farming at Slate River Farms
The Lovenduski family has been farming for four generations in two different states and two different regions of New York State. They got their start in the early 1900s when Joseph Lovenduski arrived in the United States and started farming in New Jersey. Joseph's son, Austin, expanded the farm in New Jersey and raised laying hens, beef cows and vegetables to sell at his roadside stand and the regional market. Two of Austin's sons, Paul and Mark, established a farm in the Finger Lakes region and grew corn, soybeans, wheat, green beans and sweet corn for the commodity market.
When Paul and his son,Eric and daughter-in-law,Nellie, moved to a historic farm in Easton, NY in 2016, they decided to switch to regenerative farming due to the topography and soils in that part of the state. Regenerative farming allows the Lovenduskis to farm the land in a way that maximizes production and improves soils. Their goal is to utilize the farm’s fertile soils in the most productive and sustainable way possible.
Nellie explained that by implementing regenerative farming practices, the organic matter in the soil increases which allows for more water holding capacity of the soil and less water runoff and erosion. The beef cows graze the pastures at high stocking rates for very short periods of time and trample the underbrush. Over time the trampled underbrush decays and feeds the soil. The animals are moved around the farm regularly, so their manure is not concentrated in small areas. Nellie stated that the reason more people aren't implementing regenerative practices is due to the amount of labor required. "At Slate River Farms, we’re seeing the long term benefits of keeping the animals moving, so we're willing to devote the labor to it,” said Nellie.
When COVID hit, Nellie and Eric were selling at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. They decided to discontinue selling at the market because they didn’t feel comfortable interfacing with the public. Working with Commerce4Good, a team of volunteers helping small businesses shift to ecommerce, they moved their market online. Finding a market for their eggs proved to be more difficult, but Nellie and Eric created a local delivery route where customers could order meat as well as eggs. Nellie explained that they were able to team up with some local restaurants, but it was a difficult for restaurants to utilize food from local farms when you compare the price of local pasture-raised chicken to chicken from Sysco. "We’re not farming this way because it’s the cheapest way – we’re farming this way because it’s the right way to do it,” said Nellie.
For more information about Slate River Farms and to order their products, please visit https://slateriverfarmsny.com/.