Making tomato sauce is easy enough but finding the perfect ingredients is what makes it special. This week my husband and I went searching for basil to put in our next 825 MAIN tomato Sauce batch. We want to support Hudson Valley farms. Our search this past week was for basil. Our first stop was to Frank Sorbello’s Farm in Highland, NY. We found acres and acres of crops and acres and acres of greenhouses. Frank Sorbello showed us around. I was surprised to find that Frank doesn’t grow his basil in the greenhouses. He said basil doesn’t do well in greenhouses. It needs full sun and does not like the cold. So it is a very short season. He didn’t have a good crop this year with all the heavy rain. He didn’t have any basil to harvest for us. Frank lost 2 crops from the heavy rains in June and the heavy rain in July. The basil leaves had turned yellow and that is a big turn off to the produce buyers. He said as long as the weather keeps up he will have basil to harvest in September. Frank was proud to tell us that he grows his basil in black soil brought in from a river bank. The growing season for basil in the Hudson Valley is June to September. Gosh! Who knew! I grow basil in my garden and I did notice the yellow leaves but I still continue to use it. I didn’t realize that it has to be perfect to sell at stores. Frank had lots of other crops. But I had to wonder how much this farmer economically suffred when 2 crops of acres of basil were lost this summer due to the weather. All that work and money lost to the weather! Basil is so temperamental!
Our next stop was to Continental Organics. Continental Organics is a sustainable agriculture company located on a former dairy farm in the Hudson Valley town of New Windsor, New York. They produce natural and organic food in a closed-loop micro environment comprised of indoor high tech RAS aquaponics equipment and restored traditional organic fields. They grow the basil using hydroponic methods. I had no idea what Jim and I were in for. Whenever I think of hydroponic all I think of is bland perfectly sized tomatoes. We were pleasantly surprised. The tomato plants were thriving . The basil was beautiful. As I looked on in the climate controlled greenhouses with the beautiful greens I thought of Frank Sorbello. This poor farmer worked so hard and lost 2 crops to his short lived season for basil. Continental Organics greenhouses were thriving. They used all the space including the rooftop of their building. It was amazing!
I have to make a decision. I do want to support Frank and his traditional farming methods. There is a certain feel to traditional farming of our land as I remembered Frank’s well weathered face. I want to support the traditional farmer. But then there is Keith, a disabled veteran, who wants to sustain the economic viability of farm operations and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole. Continental Organics is a disabled veteran company, which warms my heart as well. I think I would like to use both, Frank in the short months of summer and Keith the rest of the year.