Stone Church Farm – Taking waterfowl far beyond organic

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Stone Church Farm’s Duclair and Normandy duck breeds are a sought after staple to many of the finest restaurants in NY. The three markets these uniquely delicious ducks are sold in are the Hudson Valley down to Westchester, NYC, and the Finger Lakes. Robert and Noelia Rosenthal, the husband and wife team behind Stone Church Farm, base their operations in Rifton, NY located in the Mid-Hudson Valley.

Stone Church Farm was producing approximately 20,000 ducks per year. At that time, his farmers were based in Pennsylvania and he was operating under a license that stipulated his product could not be transported over state lines. His competitors promptly caught wind of this and he had to end his relationship with those farmers and now begin anew. After 5 months they now have 3 farms producing his breeds according to his new set of criteria that he says goes far beyond organic.

Ecological farming is the term used by Robert to describe the way the Normandy and Duclair ducks are raised. He explained to me that this concept was beyond organic, that it goes further than providing just organic feed (i.e. certified grass, or aquatic life). “Yes, giving your animals clean, organic food is important, which we do, but this involves the least amount of interaction between the farmer and the ducks. We look to find what the animal prefers, how the animal prefers to live, naturally”, he said. The life of the animal is an important part of the process. Both Robert and his wife Noeila believe in a happy life for the animals, free of stress from interaction with humans. The farmers are involved only from a distance.

Robert described the three criteria that each farm had to meet in order to provide the habitat most desirable to the ducks. Each farm has meadows, or grassland, an aerated water source with an aquatic bounty, and oak trees that serve as a source of omega 3 rich acorns. Everything in the environment is of course organic, yet the ducks are free to roam at their own will. There are no fences. The animals are not cooped, or lead anywhere on the property by force. The babies are born in captivity and they do get some indirect assistance with feeding, but these ducks are as close to nature as a farmed animal can be. Of the farmer, they are all but unaware. The role he or she plays is minimal. The acorns are shelled by the farmers but are not directly fed to them; they do forage of their own free will.

“This is not California, where the weather is optimal all year round. We live in the Northeast where it’s cold; we discovered the ducks would naturally forage into the woods to feed on the acorns in colder weather”, was his answer when I asked how he got the ducks to stay all season without organized interaction.

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One Comment to “Stone Church Farm – Taking waterfowl far beyond organic”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by agencyeight, Natural Food List. Natural Food List said: Stone Church Farm–Taking waterfowl far beyond organic #organic #humane #ducks #natural [...]

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