Farm-fresh eggs, goat cheese, fresh pork, organic produce, honey and wine sound like a bucolic dream for food lovers, one only found upstate or in other rural areas. But all those goodies are being sold already or will be within the next 10 years at the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park.
The 47-acre site — the only working historic farm in the city — is growing produce year-round and becoming sustainable. Sustainable agriculture is growing food in a way that balances environmental stewardship, community development and economic viability, according to the museum’s website.
In addition, Amy Fischetti-Boncardo, the farm director, says they are integrating grazing and browsing rotations as part of their livestock management to improve soil quality and animal health.
Farm officials have also purchased some Cotswold sheep, known for the quality of their wool. Shearing is done twice a year and will be sold for fleece. Some wool may be kept for making yarn.
The farm raises 12 pigs a year, with one slaughtered off premises each month. It is then butchered at the museum. The farm sells 150 pounds of pork a month in the form of chops, shoulder roast, pork belly for bacon, ham steak and hocks.
“The taste is amazing,” Fischetti-Boncardo said. “It’s so tender and lean it looks like steak.”
She called the meat “very high quality.” The pigs forage for feed, helping to clear the land, and are also fed among other things spent brew grains from a Brooklyn brewery.
The pork, along with seasonal vegetables, herbs, honey and eggs are sold to the public Wednesday through Sunday at the museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, from noon to 5 p.m., July through October.
Prices are competitive with supermarkets, but in most cases the goods are fresher and organic. Many of the vegetables are grown from heirloom seeds.
The farm’s 200 laying Rhode Island Red hens produce 14 dozen brown eggs a day and Fischetti-Boncardo said there have been fights over them by eager customers. Despite popular belief, brown eggs are no more nutritious than white ones. The color is determined by the type of chicken.
Because of limited space, only pigs are raised for slaughter. “People do eat meat,” the director said. “We give them [pigs] a good quality of life, a dignified life, a healthy diet and treat them humanely.”
Cool-weather vegetables including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips, kohlrabi and beets are still being picked in the fields. All told, there are 100 varieties of 20 different crops grown on 1 and one-half acres.
One of the most popular growing ventures — salad greens — are cultivated year-round on three acres in cold frames, the historic greenhouse and structures called hoop houses that are curved metal supports covered with canvas.
The numerous varieties of lettuce are trimmed and continue to grow or what is known as “cut and come again,” according to Kennon Kay, farm manager, who added the greens are more flavorful in winter because they grow better in cold weather.
The greens are combined to make Mesclun mix, a popular salad blend. It is a big seller on Fridays at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan.
“Some people in Queens wonder why we are selling in Manhattan throughout the year,” Fischetti-Boncardo said. “It’s to get the word out about the farm. It lets people know we are here.”
In the spring, the farm grows peaches and pears and next spring will add raspberries and blackberries, which are very popular, according to Michael Robertson, director of agriculture.
The farm will be introducing its first wines in about a month from vines planted in 2006. They will include a merlot and a red blend. The 2007 crop will feature a Chardonnay.
A 10-year master plan for the farm museum will add more planting acreage from existing property, produce goat cheese, goat soap and goat milk from the herd there and perhaps free-range chickens.
Robertson said the goat cheese project is high on the list. “We want it to be successful,” he said. “Goats are very sustainable animals that live in a small space.”
The farm is open free to the public, except during special events, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is owned by the Parks Department and operated by the Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society of Bellerose.
For further information, call (718) 347-3276 or go to queensfarm.org.