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RI Archives: Food

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Migliorelli Farm—a Heavensent for Hudson

In 1933, when Angelo Migliorelli emigrated from the Lazio region of Italy to New York City, he brought along some broccoli raab seeds, which he soon planted on land he acquired in the Bronx.  He and his son Rocco farmed and peddled vegetables there until the mid-1960s, when Rocco was forced to sell to the developers of Co-op City.  Undaunted, he moved Migliorelli Farm north to Tivoli in Dutchess County.  Thirty years later, in 1998, Ken Migliorelli, Rocco’s son, sold the development rights to his famiily’s farm to Scenic Hudson, with a conservation easement that allows it to remain farmland forever.  Today,  the Migliorellis grow more than 130 varieties of fruits and vegetables there, including the same strain of broccoli raab Angelo carried with him when he crossed the pond.  Migliorelli Farm provides fresh fruit and produce to over 30 fresh markets a week both locally and in New York City.  As their website says, “We grow it, we pick it, and we sell it, and it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Now, once again, the Migliorellis have extended their reach to include a smallish produce and grocery store on the corner of 3rd and Warren Streets In Hudson.  “I’ve always fished for an indoor market,” says Mercedes Wallner, Ken Migliorelli’s long-time partner in life and work.  “But there’s too much else going on in Dutchess.  We have our own farmstands, and there’s Adams.  Besides, it would be way more expensive there.” 

So they picked Hudson.  “I didn’t really know Hudson,” she says.  “But I wanted to do it where there was a real need.  I didn’t realize how much need there was.”

Wallner says she’s amazed by the reception the store has received, most enthusiastic, not surprisingly, “from the people who live within walking distance.  Some come in two or three times a day,” she says.  “Once to pick up a yogurt, then they’ll drop by later to see if any new prepared foods have come in.  They ask for recipes.  I encourage them to try different greens.  If somebody keeps buying kale or spinach, I get them to try bok choy.”

In addition to every known cooking green, the store presently features an exhaustive range of root crops, salad greens, tomatoes (including heirlooms), and the last of the season’s sweet corn.  With winter approaching, however, that will soon change.  “We have apples all year, pears into the winter, our own donuts.  We have a root cellar, and greenhouses; still, we will have to buy some stuff—salad greens, organic hothouse tomatoes— from other farms.  It’s a whole other thing, buying greens from someone else. It’s going to be hard to keep the prices down.” 

Presently, the prices at Migliorelli seem to compare favorably to those at the supermarket chains.  “I went to Price Chopper,” Wallner says.  “Apples were $1.25 per pound; ours are $1.00, and we picked them that morning.  Their pears are $1.39 a pound, ours are $1.20.” 
 
One upside of a waning growing season: Wallner will have time to focus on turning the store into the mini-Adams/Whole Foods of her dreams.  “We’re putting in a freezer so we can carry free-range meats and poultry, we’re going to have a grain dispenser for cous-cous and rice.”  And they will also ramp up their range of prepared foods, which already include roasted chickens from The Red Barn, as well as pot pies, fish cakes, and stews from Eat Good Food, another local resource.
 
“I have a dream of collecting everything for a dinner in one stop,” she says.  “You can do that, going from vendor to vendor, at the Union Square Greenmarket.”  Before the winter is out, Wallner is determined that she and everyone else in Hudson will be able to do that here, as well.

Migliorelli Farm
302 Warren Street, Hudson; 518.828.3277

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 10/27/09 at 12:01 PM • Permalink