It is hard to believe that little more than 20 years ago it was almost impossible to buy fresh vegetables directly from the farmers that grew them. In fact there weren’t that many small farmers raising vegetables at all. At Big Rock Farms, his wonderful new shop on Route 82, Mark Burdick is selling meat and produce from 66 farms within an 80 mile radius of Stanfordville.
On his mother’s side Mark is the eighth generation of his family to live in Stanfordville and on his fathers side he is the sixth generation. Beginning in 2005, Mark and his family have planted between 500 to 1000 Christmas trees on their 160 acre farm on Creamery Road.
In 2000 Mark’s friend, Roy Budnik, bought the large white house on Route 82. Known as the Campbell House it was built 1845 by Cornelius Campbell, a Union surgeon at Gettysburg who became a Stanford town supervisor. When the house was threatened with demolition, Budnick decided to take it on, and worked on it every Saturday for 13 years.
In 2007 Mark asked Roy if he would allow him to sell vegetables on the Campbell House lawn. Budnik agreed and the Big Rocks vegetable stand came into being, first in a tractor with a wagon, then in a tent and finally in a small building. Last winter when work on the ground floor of Campbell House was completed, Mark took it over for his shop which opened for business Memorial Day weekend.
Almost everything Mark sells is from our area. His beef is from Wheatley Farms on Layton Road as well as from Herondale; Thunder Hill and North Wind Farms in Tivoli provide the chickens; lamb is from Point of View Farm on Ludlow Woods Road and pork comes from Northwind Farms in Tivoli and the Link Farm on Pugsley Hill Road.
Ronnybrook and Hudson Valley supply the dairy products. The dazzling array of fresh flowers come from Rock Steady Farm in Millerton. Mark gets cinnamon twist bread, challa and scones from Bread Alone and the rest from Berkshire Bakery. Alan Budd on Market Lane provides the most delicious blueberries to be found anywhere. From his greenhouse he also grows greens throughout the year.
Jennica Temkin, a delightful young woman with a dazzling smile, manages the shop. She and her assistant, Abigail Knickerbocker, also create the exceptionally attractive displays of whatever is for sale that day. Jessica Clark almost singlehandedly manages the two acre vegetable garden without pesticides or sprays. The onions were started in a greenhouse in late February. Spinach, the first vegetable seeded in the ground, went in the first of April.
Now that the market is established Mark is looking to install a full commercial kitchen in the back room. The idea is to serve breakfast, lunch, and prepared food for take out hopefully within the year. He also plans to hire a chef for catering.
In the meantime he has a license permitting him use the Department of Health approved kitchen in the basement of the Grange Hall to prepare sandwiches for sale in the deli. He is also selling sell drip coffee and tea which many customers enjoy drinking in one of the chairs on the front porch of the house.
Because he knows he is more expensive than the big box stores who buy in bulk, Mark is offering a 15 percent discount on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. However, what he sells is worth every penny.