by Rebecca Dahl, Zenda Farms Program Director
Over the last few years, TILT has been studying potential opportunities for new activity at Zenda and developing two business partnerships with Coyote Moon Vineyards and Homestead Heritage Cheese, to usher in an era of renewed life at Zenda Farms.
Each of these partnerships is designed to reinvigorate the property with agricultural activity, provide new opportunities for farm-based educational opportunities, and generate new funds for this programming through the sales of Zenda Farms® Wine and Zenda Farms® Organic Cheese.
The TILT staff has worked with our partners at Coyote Moon and Homestead Heritage Cheese to ensure that these partnerships exemplify best agricultural management practices that showcase sustainable methods.
Through our partnership with Coyote Moon Vineyards, two acres of grapes were recently planted, including one acre of Marquette grapes and one acre of a new varietal called Itasca. Once mature, these grapes will produce Zenda Farms® Red and Zenda Farms® White wines, respectively. These grapes are “cold-hardy” varietals, designed to thrive in our North Country climate and survive the chilly winters, with minimal inputs. Though the vines themselves will not mature for a few years, a blend for our Zenda Farms® Red Wine has already been developed (using some of Coyote Moon’s other Marquette grapes) and is on the shelves at all Coyote Moon locations!
Working with Homestead Heritage Cheese, we’ve since renovated the Creamery at Zenda Farms to develop a new aging space for Zenda Farms® Organic Cheese. After producing and shaping the cheese at Homestead Fields Farm, an organic dairy farm, the cheese is brought over to Zenda to mature for a minimum of six months. This partnership supports the organic land management that takes place at Homestead Fields Farm and provides a unique way to connect with Zenda’s past as a state-of-the-art dairy farm. In a few months, we will have the first product to come directly from Zenda’s Creamery in nearly 70 years.
TILT is proud to partner with these two agricultural producers because of their shared commitment to conservation, sustainable agricultural practices, and the betterment of the Thousand Islands community. We look forward to incorporating these new elements at Zenda Farms into our educational programming and expanding new opportunities for everyone to interact with the land (and their food!)