Kyle Shand, 26, has returned to his roots, literally and figuratively, as he recently moved back to his grandfather’s circa-1820 house to help him farm, manage and promote the all-organic produce, fruit and meat at Meadow View Farm off Phillies Bridge Road in Gardiner.
After retiring from his longtime real-estate business, Kyle’s grandfather Bart Colucci and his wife Doris decided to purchase an old apple farm, remove the existing trees, till the land and start the Meadow View Farm, which has every kind of local fresh produce, grass-fed beef, free-range turkeys, chickens and eggs, as well as cut flowers and fruit, with new varieties always being added.
“Most people retire at 70; I decided to start a second career,” said Bart, now 82, who his grandson says “looks younger today than he did when he was in the real estate business!”
Fourteen years ago, Bart hired Roberto Rodriguez, from Mexico, to help him clear the land, build hoop-houses and “get this farm ready to cultivate.” “He was just a young buck then,” Bart said with a smile, gesturing to Roberto, who was busy going through various basil plant seedlings, separating out any that had gone bad.
Kyle grew up on the land, and said, “All of my family, my aunts and uncles and cousins live on this property,” he said pointing across the ten acres of farming land toward houses on the far edges of the fields. “I grew up on the farm, so coming back and being able to work here with my grandfather has been amazing.”
Not only did Kyle come back, but he brought his beautiful wife Alex, from Macedonia, who is now nine months pregnant with their first child: a boy. “I went to Green Mountain College in Vermont, where everything is environmentally based,” Kyle explained. “I met my wife in Vermont, and after I graduated, we moved to Tahoe, California.”
They returned home to the family farm in July of 2010 to get married in one of the centuries-old barns on his grandfather’s property. “We fixed the barn up, and it was so beautiful that we’re now getting all kinds of requests to hold weddings and celebrations there,” he noted.
Alex, having grown up on a farm with tons of family around in Macedonia, fell in love with the place and Kyle’s family — so much so that the two, once they knew they had a baby on the way, wanted to move back and live the farming-family lifestyle. Alex brought her mother with her, and Bart joked that it’s like the United Nations around the farm. “We have Roberto from Mexico; my wife [who recently passed] is Jewish; Alex and her Mom are Macedonian… It’s great!”
“We also have a lot of heirloom produce and peppers, both from her farm in Macedonia and from Roberto’s native home in Mexico, so we’re excited to introduce some of these amazing plants and sauces,” added Kyle.
“I like to know where my food comes from,” said Alex, who was busy planting around the farmstand when the New Paltz Times arrived. “That’s how I grew up. I want our baby to eat healthy, homegrown food, and to grow enough so that our friends and neighbors can also eat local, healthy, organic food and know where it came from.”
Kyle noted that his grandfather “hasn’t really marketed the farm” that much. Bart says that 50 percent of the produce and poultry and meat are sold to local restaurants and at local farmers’ markets, and the other 50 percent “right here at our farmstand, which is now open seven days a week.”
“I want to help out in doing everything that my grandfather hasn’t gotten his hands into, like marketing via social media, adding pigs and more free-range turkeys that people can preorder for Thanksgiving — make this a one-stop grocery shop for people that desire local, organic produce, poultry and meat,” said Kyle. “It’s an exciting opportunity, and I can’t tell you how great it is to have huge family meals at my grandfather’s kitchen table with everything having come directly from our farm. You don’t wake up and go to work; you wake up and get to do what you love and enjoy. My wife is almost ready to give birth, but she’s on her hands and knees planting because she loves it. That’s better than any paycheck.”
Bart said that he thinks “It’s great to have Kyle back working on the farm with his wife. He’s come back to his roots. This is his backyard, and I love having him and Alex and am excited about the baby. Maybe I’ll retire again, now that he’s back, and start a third career,” he said with a laugh.
To learn more about all that Meadow View Farm has to offer, just go to the website at www.meadowviewfarmstand.com. Or just visit them at 105 Phillies Bridge Road.