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The heart and soul of Strawberry Ridge, Mark has been farming his entire life.
As a boy, he would tag along with his father, Phillip, a local veterinarian, on his daily rounds, helping care for livestock and meeting local farmers.
When he was a teenager, his father purchased a small parcel of land across from their house that was rumored to be the sight of a future gas station. Hoping to capitalize on his investment and keep his Brady Bunchesque family "out of trouble," strawberries were planted and Mark's future in farming took root.
After earning his degree in Environmental Conservation from Cornell University in 1975, Mark returned to the farm and under his stewardship, grew the business into one of the most successful u-pick operations in upstate New York. Following the death of his father in 2011, Mark opened his own farm, and thus Strawberry Ridge was born.
In 2012, Mark purchased his first Scottish Highland cattle and has continued to expand the herd, providing the local region with sustainable, grass-fed beef and registered Highland cattle.
As the farm's master grower, Mark oversees the farm's growing plan and cares for the farm's cattle.
A man of varied interests, Mark has been at times, a painter, carpenter, canoe builder, breeder of golden retrievers, owner of a cross country ski resort and a skier and snowboarder.
He lives with his wife of nearly 40 years, Connie, and is a proud grandfather of five young boys.
Derek's earliest experience with agriculture came as a young child, when he picked strawberries and pruned raspberries on his grandfather's farm. That experience had a lasting effect and he continued to work on the farm throughout his formative years.
After graduating high school, Derek furthered his education, earning a bachelors of science in communications from Cornell University.
He then spent four years as a "ski bum," teaching snowboarding and working in marketing at various ski resorts in southern Vermont.
In 2009, Derek changed careers, working as a journalist and editor, covering several communities in the slate region of northern New York and western Vermont.
Throughout those years, Derek's passion for farming never waned and in 2015 he made the decision to return to the farm in a greater capacity.
In addition to "fieldwork," Derek manages the retail side of the business, overseeing the farm's "picking crew" and attending local farmers markets. He also handles the farm's marketing and outreach efforts.
Besides his role on the farm, Derek oversees a children's instructional ski and snowboard program at Bromley Mountain.
In his free time, Derek enjoys hiking, fishing, billiards, playing softball, cheering on his favorite sports teams, the New York Yankees and New York Giants, and spending time with his wife, Claudia, and their sons, Brodie and Harrison.
Strawberry Ridge, established in 2011, is a family-owned farm located in Granville, N.Y., along the Vermont-New York border. Although we cultivate a variety of crops, we specialize in sustainably-grown strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and fall produce (pumpkins, gourds and winter squash), all of which are offered to our customers through u-pick or retail.
Possessing more than 70 years of collective experience, we are experts at growing the finest quality fruits. And we do so in a manner that is healthy to our customers and the environment.
We use sustainable practices that include rotating and resting fields. We also employ integrated pest management (IPM) principles that minimize the use of pesticides. And unlike large conventional growers, we do not use fumigates such as methyl bromide, a potent greenhouse gas.
Cover crops, which are planted on fields at rest, control erosion, choke out undesirable weeds and add natural organic matter to the soil. And whenever possible, we rely on non-chemical means to control weeds. These methods include shallow soil cultivation, hoeing, solarization and removing weeds by hand. We also utilize plastic mulch on a number of crops, which helps to control weeds.
Our cattle are pasture raised and rotated to different areas around the farm, ensuring they are fed a natural, grass-fed diet free of GMOS. They are cared for as if they were extended members of our family and when ready for harvest, are butchered humanely and in accordance with all USDA standards.
Our farm, located at 66 Middleton Rd., is open from June through October for u-pick. Our farm stand is located on Route 22, just north of the intersection of Routes 22 and 149 in Granville. We also attend the Cambridge and Lake George farmers markets on Sundays and Wednesdays, respectively. Follow us on Facebook or check our picking report for updates and more information on crop readiness.