Besides being a time-suck, social media does actually have some benefits. I don’t even remember exactly how, but I discovered Little Ghent Farm from their Instagram account. There were some great pictures and witty repartee which made me follow them immediately. Shortly after moving back to NYC, my girlfriend and I had a little weekend getaway in the Hudson Valley for my birthday and it turned out Little Ghent Farm was only a few towns away from where we were staying.
As soon as we drove up, it was all I could do not to run out of the car and start spinning around like a young Maria singing, “The hills are alliiive…”. Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but I was definitely a little giddy. When we pulled into the drive, there was a small gravel spot for a few cars in front of the Made in Ghent farm store.
As we got out of the car, Bumble, the farm’s steadfast retriever guard dog came barking up the path to welcome us (I assumed), followed by Richard Beavens. We all introduced ourselves (Bumble, quite enthusiastically), and Richard invited us into the farm store to meet his wife.
The farm store is a beautiful structure clad in reclaimed barn wood with a metal siding roof. The main entrance is a hallway through the building that splits it into a side with large refrigerators and freezers on the left and a beautiful large commercial kitchen on the right. This is where we were welcomed by Mimi Beavens into her domain. Having worked in and managed restaurants, Mimi rules the kitchen. A large part of the offerings of Made In Ghent are a variety of fresh baked bread and sweets made daily by Mimi.
Richard and Mimi were both born and raised in the UK. Richard was in advertising and later transitioned into commercial photography. They moved to Westchester over 11 years ago and in 2012, they bought a dilapidated 75-acre farm outside of the small town of Ghent. The property had not been a farm for over 40-years so there was a lot of rehabilitation involved. The land was overgrown and needed to be cleared and the farmhouse and barn were in such bad shape, they were torn down and completely rebuilt. Everything was built with the function of a small modern farm in mind.
Up on the hill opposite the farm store, they build a new modern farmhouse where they live with their two teenaged daughters. It’s a family business, and everyone does their share, especially in the summertime when there are more animals and the girls are on summer break.
No matter how busy they are, Richard and Mimi always have time to be hospitable (Bumble, too). After giving us a tour of the immediate area which included a nearby pond, Richard and Bumble took us deeper into the farm.
Up the gravel road is the new barn, also made from reclaimed wood, built into the side of the hill with two sides separated by a wide drive through that acts as an entryway to the agricultural part of the farm. Just through the barn to left a large chicken coop was built for the laying hens. To the right, the road travels past some bee hives and out to a large field where the mobile chicken coops are repositioned regularly to give the chickens fresh grass in which to forage. In the summer, there are upwards of 400 chickens roaming free around the coops.
Next to the field, is a forested area where 10-12 heritage breed pigs forage for acorns and other tasty treats. These are pretty happy pigs, snorting and grunting, free to roam through the wooded area. Don’t stand still around them, though. One came up and tried to take a chunk out of my knee while I was photographing another pig. Perhaps it was jealous. In the spring, a new batch of piglets are brought in to replace the ones that have been processed for the farm store.
Beyond the wooded area, the field rises up to a hill with more wooded areas on top. This area is mostly wild but Richard and Mimi have leased some land to a young farmer wanting to grow vegetables and herbs on the land. The farm is very much a work in progress as they are letting it evolve into a modern farm using traditional and sustainable farming practices.
The Beavens follow Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) standards for all of the laying hens, broiler chickens, and pigs. Their foraging diets are augmented with certified organic feed and all of the animals live in a quality environment with their well-being as the primary concern of the farm.
The farm shop sells the fresh eggs from the chickens as well as broiler chickens and a plethora of pork products from the animals raised on the farm. I can tell you first hand that the pork chops are, hands-down, the best I’ve ever had. The chicken is also fantastic. They definitely have a quality to the texture and taste that is clearly noticeable.
In addition to the cooking and farming that goes on, they have also started doing special dinners and various workshops. They have more to offer than I could possibly list here. You can find out more about the workshops, delicious foods Mimi cooks up in the kitchen, and the humanely-raise chicken and pork products they offer at their website, madeinghent.com.
Or, better yet, just hop in the car and make the drive to see the farm in person. The more I go the more I love it.