Written by JOHN DAVIS
When is a farm not a farm? In the case of Coach Farm in Dutchess County and famed New York City farmer’s market, the answer is thorny.
The Pine Plains farm was founded more than a quarter century ago by Miles and Lillian Cahn. For years, they were able to sell their dairy products in Union Square in New York City at the Greenmarket Farmers Market.
But the farm was purchased in 2008 by Best Cheese Company of Mount Kisco. The farm then was deemed ineligible for the Greenmarket because Best Cheese Company is a division of Uniekaas International, based in the Netherlands.
“We are here to support small family farms and they are owned by an international corporation,” said Michael Hurwitz, Greenmarket director.
Now an effort is under way to try to persuade the Greenmarket to allow Coach Farm back in.
“We purchased Coach Farm to save it from bankruptcy,” said Steven Margarities, president of Coach Farm. “Unfortunately, with the Greenmarket’s decision not to allow us into the market, they have really given the company a death sentence.”
The farm is home to 900 French Alpine dairy goats, and has won competitions and awards for its cheese, milk and yogurt.
Margarities, who is also president of Best Cheese Company, said the Greenmarket policy denying Coach Farm access to the market is unfair.
“The Greenmarket says we are not a farm,” he said. “Tell that to the 28 New York residents that make up the crew here, who make the cheese, feed and milk the goats.”
Not being allowed in the city market accounts for a 10 percent dip in annual sales for Coach Farm or more than $250,000, Margarities said.
“The survival of this company is directly tied to the revenue from this market,” he said.
State Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, is spearheading an effort to get Greenmarket to lift its ban of Coach Farm.
“This decision must be reversed,” he said in a statement, calling the Greenmarket’s policy “a mindless bureaucratic decision.”
The Greenmarket director, though, said the market is not likely to bend the rules.
“If their ownership structure was to change we would absolutely revisit their application,” Hurwitz said. “We will not change our mission. This is why we were created 37 years ago.” (ARTICLE)