Rusty Tractor: A New Delivery Service for Local Foods
You want to eat locally-produced food, of course, but you don’t want to devote your entire weekend to shopping for it. Lisa Thomas understands your predicament, and she has come up with a solution. A self-described foodie who moved with her husband and son to the Hudson Valley a decade ago primarily because of its farm and food culture, she was frustrated by the amount of schlepping required to fill the fridge and larder with local eggs, bread, cheese, meat, cookies and crackers. A devoted member of the Little Seeds Gardens organic CSA in Chatham who regularly shops at Adams Fairacre Farms in either Poughkeepsie or Kingston, she has created the Rusty Tractor Farm Market, an online grocer that is meant to not only complement what is already available but also make shopping more convenient. “You can place your order online in the middle of the night, and we’ll deliver it to your house—if you live with 15 miles of our warehouse in Stanfordville—on Saturday morning,” she explains. “But half our customers choose to pick up their orders on Saturdays at the warehouse. It’s become a social thing.”
Although Rusty Tractor, which was launched two months ago with 250 products, sounds like it was tailored for city folk who are addicted to online delivery services such as FreshDirect, Thomas reports that more than half her customers so far are full-time Hudson Valley residents. She has a big following among the parents at the Dutchess Day School where her twelve-year-old son, Henry, is a student. “We do gifts baskets for the holidays, and all of Henry’s teachers are getting gifts from Rusty Tractor,” she says, pointing to a table full of Sommer Hof Farms cheese biscuits that are gaily wrapped in celephone and gingham ribbon. “I prefer wrapping in burlap but for the holidays I used cellophane.” (The namesake rusty tractor was an impulse purchase by her lawyer husband, Paul; it’s kept in the hay barn by their chicken coop and it’s used mostly for joyrides.)
Some of Rusty Tractor’s best-selling items are not from farmers but from the kitchen of chef Frank Buitoni, who runs the celebrated Mercato restaurant in Red Hook. “People love his sauces and pastas,” says Thomas, whose offerings include his tagilatelle ($7 for 12 ounces) and Bolognese sauce ($10 for 16 ounces.) She also carries spelt pasta ($6.50 for 12 ounces) from Wild Hive and humms ($5) from Barbara Shepherd of Germantown, who Thomas first discovered at the Montgomery Place Orchards farm stand. The cured meats (bacon, ham, sausage) from Mountain Products Smokehouse in Lagrangeville are extremely popular, too. “We sell a lot of their smoked salmon,” she says. Thomas and her husband also have a blog that includes recipes for their versions of dishes such as tagliatelle Carbonara and boeuf Bourguinon, which detail the local ingredients used such as Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery Apple Cider Vinegar ($10) and Meadowland Farm beef. Rusty Tractor offers more than food for your table. You can even order beeswax candles ($12 for tapers and $2.50 for votive) from Staatsburg’s Hummingbird Ranch or a bunch of anemones ($12, below) from Battenfeld Farm.
Sarah Gray, whose family has run Mountain Products Smokehouse in Lagrangeville since 1980, is thrilled to have their meats available through Rusty Tractor. “As a company, we believe in working with other businesses in the Hudson Valley,” says Gray. “That Lisa can make our products look beautiful and accessible to customers who’ve never heard of us before is really great,” Rory Chase of the Amazing Real Live Food Company is a fan, too. “It’s a business that makes a lot of sense,” says Chase who appreciates being in the company of other local food producers. “It’s a great way to be part of the local food movement—it gives people a sense of participation and engagement.”
Saturday pick-up:10 a.m. to noon
5979 Route 82, Stanfordville (in the Market Square Plaza at the intersection of Rt. 82 and Bulls Head Road.)