Sunday, January 17, 2010

Conversation at the Milk Pail

Photo (Lexi Van de Walle): Milk Pail Apple Cider Donuts

There's something about the freezing cold weather that calls for hot apple cider, fresh made and local donuts, warm homemade applesauce (for dinner tonight) and a side of "KNOW YOUR FARMER, KNOW YOUR FOOD".

Stopped by the Milk Pail in Water Mill a few minutes after it opened this morning and struck up a conversation with Amy Halsey (12th generation Hamptons farmer and co-owner) in her all-apples-all-the-time country store that also carries homemade jams, flour and pancake mixes (many items from Vermont), and fudge in addition to nearly a dozen or so of the 26 types of apples grown in the Halsey's 70-acre orchard, sweet crunchy and delicious dried Milk Pail apple chips, and their infamous and tasty apple cider donuts made at the store from a secret recipe that only Dreesan's Donut Shoppe in East Hampton knows.

READ more about
the Milk Pail's apple cider donuts in the New York Times.

I told Amy my digital pen name and blog, Lighthearted Locavore, and we immediately transitioned into a lively conversation about locally and regionally grown foods ripened by the sun, the pros and cons of the "organic" label, food miles, educating eaters about integrated pest management (and the benefits of locally and sustainably grown apples that may not look perfect), protecting Long Island's farmland and the connection between what we eat and how we grow it and public and environmental health. There were also a few words exchanged about how horribly disgusting "conventionally grown" wax covered red apples that you find in supermarkets and cafeterias are despite their pretty look.

Amy gave me a handout that she's been sharing with customers to help them better understand their sustainable practices. It's titled "We Practice IPM: Integrated Pest Management". With the help of folks at the Cornell Cooperative Extension and info from the website, Halsey has adopted "the age old common sense practices of IPM" that in effect prevents pest damage via frequent crop inspections, use of natural predators to deal with pests, mating disruption substances, and biological pesticides (which are used selectively of course). IPM coordinates these tools "by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment".

I love this woman! And, I love this farm & stand.

Check out the Lighthearted Locavore post from January 2009 -- another freezing day shopping at the Milk Pail --- "Last Farm Standing til April" .There's a recipe for hot cider.

Located on Montauk Highway in Water Mill, the Milk Pail is open only in the fall and winter months. They have a U-Pick business with 26 varieties of apples and conventional and ugly pumpkins. At the farmstand, they sell hand-pressed cider made from the less than perfect apples, farm made cheeses and homemade apple cider donuts as well as apple butter and jams and a few items from Vermont. This location closes for spring and summer but you can buy fruit and vegetables and flowers at the Mini Milk Pail and Amy's Flowers on Mecox Road.

The Milk Pail Farm & Orchard (and Greenhouse)
1346 Montauk Highway
Water Mill, NY 11976
Mon.-Sat. 9:30-5:30 Sun. 10:00-5:30

Closed Tuesdays



Bryan Futerman said...

Great Apples and cider. The Milk Pail does not heat pasturize their cider instead they use ultra violet light, keeps all of the good nutrients that are affected by heat intact. Not only the most delicious also the healthiest cider available.

Unknown said...

Good info, Bryan..thanks. Gives "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" new meaning. Recent research shows that apple cider much like red wine/grapes is rich in antioxidents which help keep our heart healthy and cells clean of cancer.