Kitchen Cultivars 2017: All in the Family

Pricking escarole in New Paltz, NY.

Everything’s coming up radishes. And escarole! Now in its third season, Kitchen Cultivars is piloting a new “mother-daughter” network of farms for trialing more than 10 different regionally appropriate varieties each of C. endivia latifolium (escarole, a very cold-hardy member of the endive family) and Raphanus sativus (specifically fall radishes with colorful interiors). Some of these varieties, like Watermelon Radish, are familiar to farmers, and some have never been grown in the Hudson Valley. Founded by Glynwood and developed in partnership with Seedshed, Kitchen Cultivars unites farmers and chefs in raising awareness for a vibrant and diverse food culture that is specific to the Hudson Valley.

The “mother” farm, managed by Seedshed, is located on Glynwood’s Farm Business Incubator in New Paltz, NY, and is focused this year on planting in the summer for fall harvests and local winter crops. Each crop will be evaluated for yield, flavor, disease resistance, agricultural significance and ability to produce in our region.  

“Daughter” farms are participating in trials of escarole and radish with the triple goal of adding biodiversity to their farms, increasing their markets and providing more local food in their communities. These farms include Digg Inn (escarole), Farm Tournant (radish), Culinary Institute of America (radish), Glynwood (escarole/radish), Hilltop Hanover (escarole), Hudson Valley Seed Co. (escarole/radish), Letterbox (radish), Lineage (escarole), Long Season (escarole), Stone Barns Center (escarole) and Solid Ground (radish). Each farm will be paid for successful crop evaluation (Glynwood and Stone Barns excluded), and will sell their harvests at their own price.  

After a year behind the scenes of increasing stock of Hank’s X-tra Special Baking Bean, which made a gangbuster commercial debut in 2016, this fresh white legume is back on the scene and local farms will once again be growing Hank’s for retail. Called “sister” farms, they include: Digg Inn, Culinary Institute of America, Glynwood, Hawthorne Valley, Hilltop Hanover, Hudson Valley Seed Co., I & Me, Lineage, Migliorelli, Rise & Root, Stone Barns Center, Taliaferro and Solid Ground. Stay tuned for details on where to find Hank’s after the fall harvest.

A Taste of Place

Kitchen Cultivars is about discovery. Through trials of new seed varieties and exposure to farmers and chefs, Glynwood and Seedshed are building supply and market demand for distinctive regional foods; delicious crops that are well suited to the Hudson Valley’s ecology and cultures.

Our first grow-out was in 2015 of Hank’s X-tra Special. A treasured stash of 14 pounds of beans(all the Hank’s in existence at the time!) was divided between 6 regional growers, planted and monitored throughout the season. A reserve of harvested beans was returned to HVSC for its catalogue and the rest were used for restaurant promotions. Twice as many local growers participated in our second year, when seventeen farms in the Hudson Valley produced one or both of the Bridge to Paris Pepper and the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. Three times as many restaurants participated in special restaurant promotions and events.

Special delivery: Radish seeds.