Show your kids where real food comes from. A day out at the farm is the perfect way to combine fresh air, wholesome food, physical activity and respect for the food chain. Even better, Hemlock Hill Farm (HHF) is right here in Westchester.
Fueled by a passion for respecting the land and producing farm fresh products for the local community, the DeMaria family has kept this farm going for nearly 80 years. Established in 1939 by Nicolas J. DeMaria, a Bronx native with dreams of a rural life, and his reluctant, Westchester-bred wife, Katherine, Hemlock Hill Farm is 120 acres of protected farmland in Cortlandt Manor.
Hemlock Hill Farm started as a dairy farm and apple orchard. In the late ‘50’s, when most of their neighbors were selling out to developers, the DeMarias held on to the business they had worked so hard to build. John DeMaria returned from the army to take over when his father, Nicolas, became fatally ill. John added pig farming to their repertoire, initially selling to local markets and later adding an on-site butcher shop. Today the farm is run by John and Laura DeMaria – third generation farmers who grow hay for grazing animals. They have also added a garden where they grow vegetables three seasons out of the year.
Laura and her sisters grew up at Hemlock Hills, doing farm chores and developing an appreciation for the land. Her grandmother taught her the importance of family, history and cooking delicious, wholesome food. But pressure to sell the farm continued until 2005, when Westchester legislators finally recognized the value of such beautiful open space in this metropolitan county and added the property to Westchester’s Agricultural district. Hemlock Hill Farm is now protected land, and the family strives to educate and empower other families in the surrounding community.
Coming to Hemlock Hill Farm guarantees that your money is staying in the community and promoting local jobs. Seeing the farm in operation highlights the importance of local sourcing and protecting our county’s open space. A smaller carbon footprint benefits everyone.
Plan on taking home a goody bag of wholesome food from the farmers’ market. The meat and vegetables you find in their cases are quite literally “fresh from the farm” which means you know for sure both how they were grown and when they were grown!
All their cattle, lambs and poultry are pasture-raised on the farm for you to see!
HHF produce is Certified Naturally Grown (a national designation) and they have also taken the Northeast Organic Farming Association Farmer’s Pledge (a commitment that assures healthy food, strong local economies, fair working conditions and wages, humane treatment of animals and care of the land).
Locally grown fruit and flowers, as well as products from other local farms, bakeries and breweries are available year round.
Farmhouse Kitchen is coming to the farm this summer. Food to go and small plates will be offered Fridays through Sundays until October. Pick up your food and dine at the convenient picnic tables.
Hemlock Hill Farm now features a Band, BBQ and Brew (BB&B) monthly event for all ages that includes performances by local bands, craft beer for the adults, an ice cream truck for little and big kids, farmers’ market open for shoppers and farm tours. Upcoming BB&B events are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for these Saturdays: June 16, July 14, Aug. 11, Sept. 15 and Oct. 13, 2018.
Elisa Bremner in an Armonk-based Registered Dietitian and freelance writer. She is a big fan of local food, which is generally better for both humans and the environment.
Hemlock Hill Farm
500 Croton Ave.,
Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.
Hours: Open year-round, seven days a week.
Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tours: A 45-minute walking tour around parts of HHF’s 120-acre farm is offered every Saturday at 11 a.m. now through October. $5 per person.