Heather Ridge Farm Is on a Sustainable Mission
We interviewed Carol Clement, owner of Heather Ridge Farm and Bees Knees Café in Preston Hollow, New York, about the many animals on her farm, and how her work influences the way she thinks about her pets’ health and happiness.
Edible Communities: Tell us about Heather Ridge Farm. What's your vision, and how did you get it off the ground?
Carol Clement: I literally bought the farm next door, putting the pieces back together. It had been a dairy farm, but my husband and I decided to do a mixed livestock and poultry farm, with a farm store on it, so we could work directly with our customers. AWA [Animal Welfare Approved] is a national certification process that has a third party assure that animals are raised to the highest standards. Our facilities, animals, records, slaughterhouses, everything is inspected and held to rigorous requirements. Customers care about that.
Our mission has been to raise the best quality food we can, treat the livestock as best possible, and leave the land in better shape than when we started. Our [café] menu features our own meat and poultry, paired with local produce and dairy products, as well as foraged ingredients. Our chef creates wonderful brunch and lunch dishes that change almost every week. In addition, we have several extraordinary dinners each month.
Edible: And you have a lot of pets -- 2 dogs and 7 cats! What are their names and how did you end up with them?
Carol: The dogs are Australian shepherds, Finn and Roisin (we have a lot of Irish names). The cats are Googie, Al, Mamie, Smitty, Grainne, and Marian. The dogs were deliberate, but cats seem to find me! A litter of four kittens were born to a feral mother under our café kitchen floor, so I adopted them all, and added them to the cats we already had. Marian still lives at the cafe, and is the social butterfly of the group, welcoming our guests.
Edible: Have your pets ever inspired your work, and how?
Carol: The tireless devotion our dogs show, their natural ability to work around livestock, and their inexhaustible energy on our behalf is truly inspirational.
Edible: What do you and your pets do for fun? What's their perfect day?
Carol: The dogs love going in the truck or walking up our mountain (the farm is a "hill farm" that goes over the top of our mountain). Their perfect day is a brisk walk up the hill to check on all the sheep, and then a trip to town to get a special snack to eat in the truck.
Edible: How does your work influence how you think about your pets' health, diet, and happiness?
Carol: Since running the mixed livestock farm for almost 15 years now, and learning so much more animal health issues, I do think about the pets differently. Our pets are lucky to eat meats from the animals we raise.