Blooming Hill Farm
1251 Highway 208, Monroe, New York
The most beautiful of concepts often starts small, humbly, honestly... but with great passion and vision. In the case of Blooming Hill Farm, it's inception came in the early eighties with a mid-stream life change for it's owner, Guy Jones, trading in a buttoned-up storefront law office in Albany New York for a small farm, work gloves, farming & foraging in the lower Hudson Valley. As they say, "organic farming - it's nothin' new, we built a nation on it." What came of this leap of faith, built on selling farmed & beautifully foraged produce at farmer's markets in New York City, forging relationships with well-known chefs and ultimately turning a passion into a new way for New Yorkers and subsquently, America to eat and gather.
We are privileged to have had the opportunity to talk with Austin Jones, son of Guy Jones who now runs business development and events, about the heart and history that brought Blooming Hill Farm to beautiful life.
Photos provided by Blooming Hill Farm
Words by Venue Austin Jones of Blooming Hill Farm, Event Photography by Pat Furey
Tell us about the concept behind Blooming Hill Farm.
Guy Jones started Blooming Hill Farm in the lower Hudson Valley in the early eighties, not long after he gave up his storefront law office in Albany, New York.
In the beginning, Blooming Hill sold vegetables at farmers' markets locally and in New York City at the Union Square Greenmarket. Through his business at Union Square, Guy foraged relationships with up and coming New York chefs such as David Bouley (Bouley), Mario Batali (Babbo, Lupa, Del Posto, Esca), Tom Colicchio (Craft, Collicchio & Sons), & Michael Romano (Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern). He quickly developed a reputation within the New York restaurant scene for his eclectic and off-the-beaten-path produce and foraged wild goods.
Photo of the local Caldwell House near the property
As Guy and Blooming Hill grew the direct to restaurant wholesale business in New York City and the surrounding area it also began to establish a retail store housed within the barn at the farm's home property in Blooming Grove, NY.
In addition to retailing all the great produce, herbs, flowers & fruit the farm had to offer the store also sold a variety of other locally-sourced groceries, breads, cheeses, eggs, honey, & pastries just to name a few.
Photos provided by Blooming Hill Farm
Blooming Hill also began operating a cafe in conjunction with the market not long after the retail store opened.
The cafe offered simple farm-based dishes in the form of brunch and lunch for the market's weekend visitors. They expanded this offering one step further by creating a monthly series of dinners, in which Guy would bring in a guest chef from one of the farm's New York City-based restaurant clients, to prepare a multicourse vegetarian meal centered around the farm's available produce during a given season.
Photo by Outstanding in a Field
These dinners were a hit not only with Hudson Valley weekenders coming up from New York City, but also with local customers. They began to develop a steady following and from some guests came requests to host private events at the farm.
This began as a small side business for the farm hosting two or three private events a year until Guy's middle son, Austin, returned from restaurant work in New York City to focus on this portion of the family business.
Today the farm's catering arm in the form of The Blooming Hill Events Company books, manages, and carries out around 40 private events a year on the Blooming Hill property.
In addition to private events, the company runs the cafe at the weekend retail market, produces prepared foods for sale on premises & at farmer's markets, and continues to manage and expand the "Farm Dinner" series that Guy began. The culinary goal of the company is to provide a "hyper seasonal" table-to-farm dining experience to its' clients and guests.
Who is the team behind Blooming Hill Farm?
Guy Jones (b. 1949- West Orange, NJ) - Farmer, Owner/Operator
In the early 1980s he left his storefront law office in Albany, NY to pursue farming. He worked on farms in and around Ithaca, NY before moving to Blooming Grove, NY in 1984 to start Blooming Hill Farm. Today he remains the farmer, owner, operator, and philosophical leader of Blooming Hill along side his three sons.
Executive Chef at Blooming Hill
While attending college, Nick worked full time as a cook at The Center for Discovery in Harris, NY. During his time at The Center, Nick was exposed to creative clinical nutrition & farm-to-table sourcing from the on-site working farm. He began working at Blooming Hill in spring 2014 as an event cook and became chef in fall 2015.
Farm Manager - Technology Administrator
Travis is Guy's oldest son and, like his other two brothers, grew up working for his father. Today Travis works with his father in managing the day to day produce operation. In addition to field operations, he also focuses on furthering the farm's integration of technology into their business.
Events Manager - Business Development
Following college, Austin moved to New York City where he saw time in nearly every restaraunt position - maitre'D, server, bus boy, bartender, food runner, line cook, & front of house manager. Today Austin manages ongoing culinary & events operations at the farm and continues to search for new ways to grow and diversify the farm's business.
Tell us a little bit about the design of Blooming Hill Farm
The design behind Blooming Hill Farm is less cultivated than it should be. The look of the place that many of our patrons have come to enjoy really just comes from the function- we are a real working farm and our property, buildings, and any styling that we implement on our events reflect this.
The barn in which we hold many of our events is an open air pole building and has always been a work space for us. We wash, pack, and load our wholesale vegetables out of this structure. We clean it up as best we can for the markets and events we hold on the weekends, but the work it sees during the week shows through. Sometimes we're worried that it looks to rough- but many of the farm's guests seem to enjoy the look- what we call "rough" they call "rustic".
In addition to cleaning up and repurposing the farm space, we also use some of its implements in the same manner- we use old onion crates and market tables to make our bar counters, we use old pieces of barn wood and refinish them to make our pizza boards, we'll use an old wheelbarrow to fill as a vessel for ice and beer- these are just a few examples.
The food also has some design behind it. We want it to be pretty, but we also want to highlight where it comes from. When we cook carrots we still want them to look like carrots that we once pulled out of the ground. Many of our dishes are vegetable centric in that way. Rather than trying to disguise these ingredients, we attempt to make them shine.
Credits: Venue: Blooming Hill Farm | Photos provided by: Pat Furey Photography, Blooming Hill Farm & Outstanding in a Field
Event Credits: Event Planner: Kathryn Kenna | Photography: Pat Furey Photography | Floral: Gloria Collins | DJ: Roland Kutner | Lighting & Tent: Sperry | Cake: Betsy from Nine Cakes | Chalkboard Calligraphy: Julie Henderson | Invitation / Invitation Calligraphy: Dinglewood Design | Rentals: Heather from Events Unlimited | Officiant: Fr. Matthew Moretz | Hair and Make-Up: Jennifer Bishop | Transportation: Hudson Valley Charter Service | Bed & Breakfast for the Wedding Party: The Caldwell House