Richard Giles of Lucky Dog Farm
Richard Giles of Lucky Dog Farm began farming in his native Mississippi, so when he moved to the 40 acres he now keeps in a rotation of vegetables and small grains in Hamden, NY, he had to learn to adapt to an entirely different climate. “I had to learn to farm again,” he said. “The only thing that’s the same is that we have good soil, but everything else—from the crops to the weather—is different.” While he misses growing southern staples like black eyed-peas and okra, he’s learned to take pleasure in producing crops that do well in colder weather like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
For the last 13 years, Lucky Dog has subsisted on profits from wholesale accounts and sales at small markets upstate, but just over a year ago, Giles decided to shift more toward direct sales, and joined the Greenmarket program. “I decided to move toward doing more direct sales because I like having the contact with our customers.” He now drives down to the city on Thursdays, makes deliveries to restaurants, then sells at Union Square and Fort Greene Greenmarkets on Fridays and Saturdays. What has he learned from his new customers? What and how they like to cook. At their suggestion, he started to grow sunchokes and fingerling potatoes. Brooklyn restauranteur Andrew Tarlow is a regular shopper, buying potatoes and Tuscan kale for his establishments Roman’s, Diner, and Marlow and Sons.
After last year’s Tropical Storm Irene wiped out $175,000 worth of crops on Giles’s farm, Greenmarket was able to give Lucky Dog an assistance grant to help recover their losses. The valuable funding helped pay bills they wouldn’t have been able to cover otherwise. In the spring, a second round of funding was administered, just as the 2012 season got underway. Happily, this season has been better than the last.
I really appreciate Greenmarket—they’ve really gone out of the way to make our lives better. They have been professional and helpful. They understand that it is good to have fresh food in the city—and are able to raise consciousness about what it takes to get it here. —Richard Giles
Click HERE to learn more about Lucky Dog Organic Farm.