As 12th generation farmers at Saunderskill Farms, farming flows in the blood of the Schoonmaker’s family. The Schoonmakers have been farming in Accord, NY for over three hundred years. The eight hundred acre farm is situated just off of route 209 in Ulster County, NY. David and his father Jack,work in the fields, while his brother Dan runs the farm market with his wife, Cathy, and their oldest daughter, Jennifer, and her husband Ryan. Jennifer’s and Ryan’s daughter, Renée is a grower in training and helps David and Jack in the fields. David said the Schoonmaker family was lucky that every generation has enthusiastically pursued farming as a profession. When choosing his career, David said, “I was born into it. It has always been part of my life and I love working outside! Farming was always what I wanted to do!”
The Schoonmakers’ passion for quality produce is illustrated by their farming practices. Even though the land has been farmed since 1680, the soil is still rich. David believes that the use of cover crops sustains the quality of the soil for long periods of time. Cover crops, such as soybeans and pumpkins, help maintain soil fertility and reduce soil erosion. The Schoonmakers are also well read and stay up to date on the newest and most effective farming practices through different websites, journals, and farmer meetings in the winter.
The Schoonmaker’s family’s expertise is rewarded with bountiful crops of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. David’s favorite crops to grow are tomatoes because “they are a fun challenge!” He credits the tomatoes’ satiating flavor and vibrant hue to Saunderskill’s proper management skills, moisture, soil nutrient levels, and a bit of luck with the weather. Saunderskill Farms has partnered with Red Tomato this summer to bring Kings Food Markets super fresh sweet corn harvested within twenty-four hours of delivery! This pilot program has enabled Saunderskill Farms to increase their sweet corn acreage to one hundred acres and hopefully one hundred twenty acres in the near future. In addition to their corn expansion, the Schoonmakers are looking forward to beginning a four-acre tall slender spindle apple orchard in the fall. If you are in the Hudson Valley, NY be sure to stop by the farm market for some delicious homemade baked goods, produce, or to pick your own fruit!