We would like to introduce you to Walter of Shannon Brook Farm in Watkins Glen, one of our many fabulous Ithaca Farmers’ Market vendors. Here he is:
Ithaca-area purveyors of fine local foods can find Shannon Brook Farm’s booth on Wednesdays at East Hill Plaza and on Thursdays at the brand-new Hancock Street Market, from 4 to 7 pm.
As you can see, the list of localicous, pasture-raised, Certified Organic foods produced at Shannon Brook Farm goes on for quite some time: eggs (chicken and duck), sausage (breakfast, mild, zesty, and hot), lamb, duck, chicken, pork (including bacon, ground pork, butt roast, lard, ham hocks, and more), and, new this year, forest-grown shiitake mushrooms.
It can be hard to get a good visual of all of the goods for sale with meat vendors, since the frozen meat is all packed safely in coolers, but Walter keeps his booth looking picturesque with a collection of stuffed animals, all of which were gifts from his happy customers.
At East Hill Plaza Farmers’ Market, the first day of the 2015 season brought a new sheep to the table (the one Walter is holding, with the curly horns). It traveled all the way from China to be a part of our own local foods community.
It is worth making a special trip to one of the weekday neighborhood markets to meet unique vendors like Walter, who are not at the weekend markets at Steamboat Landing. If you are lucky, Walter might have time to chat with you, and you would be amazed at what you may learn!
We won’t give away all of his secrets, but it was fascinating to hear about the way he jumped into farming with both feet! He and his partner Shannon moved from Manhattan (it’s downstate somewhere) to Watkins Glen in April 2011, and started out with 10 lambs and 1 ewe on their 127 acre property. It was a farm which had been abandoned for 30 years, a fact which allowed them to be Certified Organic right off the bat. By the end of the year, they were raising over a thousands chickens, and in 2012, they became regular Ithaca Farmers’ Market vendors! This year, Shannon Brook Farm has 110 ewes, and 80 lambs were born this year.
Walter wishes that he had started farming sooner, perhaps while he was still in his 40s, but that is one of his only regrets. The other one is that he wishes he had taken more science courses when he was younger! He trained as an economist, in his previous life.
Stop by the Shannon Brook Farm booth at the Farmers’ Market, pick up some eggs and bacon for the next day’s breakfast, and say hi to Walter, in English or Gaelic!