Satur Farm + NYS Grown & Certified
As someone passionate about the life-cycle of food – how it’s grown, sourced, and sustained — I all but jumped at the chance to spend a leisurely afternoon at Satur Farm. Situated on the picturesque plains of the North Fork of Long Island, Satur Farm was founded by Paulette Satur and Chef Eberhard Müller, two veterans of the culinary history. Paulette’s passion for farming runs deep, having spent her childhood on a small-scale dairy farm in rural Pennsylvania. Her dedication to the land would lead to a Masters in Agriculture, a decade-plus career as a sommelier and wine supplier, and now, operating her very own farm alongside husband Eberhard. A few weeks ago the couple graciously hosted myself and six other distinguished guests for a day of food, education, and farm-centric conversation. Most of all, they gave us an exclusive preview of the robust new initiative known as the New York State Grown & Certified Program.
Our trip began with Chef Müller and Paulette welcoming our group into their charming, light-filled home for a delightful vegan meal prepared by the chef himself. As if plucked from an issue of Architectural Digest, their stunning residence melded a sleek modern aesthetic with the country-chic air of Provencal France – Cozy, bright, delightful. After drooling over the sprawling kitchen – clean, luminous, marble, marble, marble! – it was time to enjoy our meal and learn more about the Chef himself.
A modest man by any measure, Chef Müller eagerly served us a stunning vegetable stew while detailing his accomplished career as Executive Chef of storied NYC restaurants like Lutèce and Le Bernardin. Between giant spoonful’s of cauliflower, white beans, and onion drowned in a cheeky tomato broth, Chef Müller explained what little access existed for farm-fresh produce throughout the 1990s. To alleviate this issue Chef Müller and Paulette established Satur Farm as a way of supplying his kitchens with a constant source of organic vegetables and greens. Word of mouth quickly spread to the Chef’s well known friends – Daniel Bouland, among them – and before long, Satur Farm wasn’t just a side-project, but a full-blown business.
After devouring succulent pears poached in red wine – I did some slurping, it’s true! — we headed out to the farm to get to business. As a premiere participant in the New York State Grown & Certified Program, Chef Müller and Paulette delivered a wealth of knowledge on the programs merits, the importance of eco-conscious farming, and why the NYS program is critical to farmers and consumers alike.
The first of it’s kind in the United States, NYS Grown & Certified combines modern food safety standards with environmental stewardship to certify food at a premium level. Starting in 2017, farms that adhere to this program will have their produce labeled with an “NYS” symbol, one that’s indicative of both the quality of the food and the practices with which it is sourced. Not only does a program of this scale promote the consumption of healthy, environmentally conscious foods, it provides underserved communities greater access to fresh produce, all at a lower cost. And with an expanded marketplace, farmers can provide their workers with livable wages — $15/hr is standard at Satur Farm – while continuing to earn a profit and front the costs of their sustainable practices.
In short, everyone wins.
Chef Müller and Paulette detailed a number of the eco-conscious practices that Satur Farm follows, among them crop rotation (not growing the same plant in the same location twice), crop cover (planting soy beans and legumes in-between crop rotations to enrich the soil), and enlisting natural pesticides (the use of lady bugs and other natural disease fighters). The over-arching message is respect for the soil, since the healthier the soil, the more robust your crops will be.
Following these sourcing ethics – among countless others! – is necessary for inclusion in the NYS program. Farms like Satur Farm are revolutionizing our dietary needs while promoting greater respect for the earth, and it’s an incredible process to see. NYS Grown & Certified is a ground-breaking program that could serve as a model for states across the US to adopt. It’s core goals of greater access to healthy, organic produce, higher margins for farmers, higher wages for laborers, lower prices for consumers, and minimized environmental impact are not just admirable, they’re changing how our city eats.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Empire State Development. The opinions and text are all mine.