1. Guy Jones, Blooming Hill Farm
Blooming Grove and Chester
In the early eighties, soon after Guy Jones gave up his storefront law office to become a farmer, he was asked by David Bouley to grow rare mesclun greens and patience-testing haricots verts. He now sells 200 varieties of product (including 30 types of tomatoes) directly to 50 restaurants. Finicky vegan spots like Angelica Kitchen love him because he’s politically conscious, and chefs find him extremely responsive—lately, for example, he’s been using seeds from Italy to grow nettle, radicchio, and agretti.
2. Michael Yezzi and Jennifer Small, Flying Pigs Farm
Michael Yezzi (another lawyer turned farmer) and his wife, Jennifer Small, are the go-to purveyors of rare heritage-breed pigs. Early adopters such as Peter Hoffman at Savoy have found that the hogs yield moist pork with a distinctively fat, buttery flavor. Now the duo has branched into other areas: Their eggs, like their pigs, are probably richer than anything you’ve ever scrambled into an omelette.
3. Alex Paffenroth, Paffenroth Gardens
Alex Paffenroth has been called the “king of the root crops.” Like other farmers of the Hudson Valley’s Black Dirt region, he farmed mostly onions until increased competition forced him to diversify. These days, he grows nine varieties of onions and twenty varieties of potatoes as well as specialties like cheese pumpkins, black radishes, and burdock. Chefs such as Marc Meyer and Dan Barber covet his Mirai, a supersweet Japanese corn, as well as a smooth-skinned sunchoke that looks great on a dinner plate.
4. Ronny Osofsky, Ronnybrook Farm Dairy
Until the early nineties, Ronnie Osofsky and his family ran their dairy farm in much the same way his parents had since 1941. Finding little success in selling to a co-op dairy, he began packaging his non-homogenized, small-batch milk in glass bottles. Since then the farm has ridden pretty much every milk-product trend wave, from eggnog to butter, and now sells its ever-expanding product line to gourmet stores throughout the city.
5. Eberhard Müller and Paulette Satur, Satur Farms
When Eberhard Müller and Paulette Satur bought land on the North Fork in 1997, they didn’t plan to do much more than raise vegetables and herbs for his then-restaurant, Lutèce. But the former Le Bernardin chef found his colleagues clamoring for his vegetables, so they began farming full time. Müller and Satur now provide for restaurants such as Per Se, Daniel, and Momofuku and supermarkets like FreshDirect, Dean & DeLuca, and Agata & Valentina.
6. Rick Bishop, Mountain Sweet Berry Farm
While an agriculture student at Cornell, Rick Bishop turned a sweet, diminutive, day-neutral strawberry called the Tristar into the hit of the Greenmarket. Soon after, he helped introduce fingerling potatoes to the city and was at the forefront of the subsequent petit-vegetable trend. Loyal clients such as Mario Batali and Jean-Georges Vongerichten still consider him the source for crosnes and sucrine lettuce.