Eat Drink Local Profile #27: Kennon Kay of Queens County Farm Museum

The Director of Agriculture:

Kennon Kay

What She Does:

Kennon Kay is the much-beloved director of agriculture at the Queens County Farm Museum, presiding over two acres of vegetables and a large stable of livestock in the city’s oldest continuously working farm.

Centuries before the crew behind Brooklyn Grange hit paydirt in Long Island City, this farm had carved out a 47-acre niche in the far eastern reaches of Queens. Under Kay’s careful eye, the farm produces a full range of organic produce, including eggplants, basil, potatoes, summer squash, melons, beets, chard, celery, fennel, peas, kale, mustard greens and okra (much of which is sold locally, to city restaurants and Greenmarkets). She also oversees a large menagerie of well-tended farm animals, including fleece-producing Cotswold sheep, heritage breed pigs, Rhode Island Red laying hens, dairy cows and goats. All the animals are given space to roam and the produce is grown sustainably and chemical-free.

Why We Love Her:

Kay arrived at Queens County Farm in early 2009, already boasting an impressive resume. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz’s venerable Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems program, she went on to earn her stripes under superstar organic farmer Eliot Coleman, then at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester. “I bet she wouldn’t even know how to spray pesticide if you asked her,” jokes farm manager Leah Rutherford. Kay combines her deep-seated passion for ethical farming with a vast storehouse of acquired knowledge and the easy comfort of a leader. Oh and did we mention – she’s only 27.

Where to Find Her:

Though her home is in Brooklyn, Kay carpools to the outer reaches of Queens many times a week for 10-hour days at the Queens County Farm Museum.  The phone may not be the best way to reach her though; with 47 acres of land to roam, chances are Kay won’t be sitting in the office. Luckily you can also catch her on a panel about the NYC DIY movement this coming Monday as part of our Edible Institute.

From September 26th to October 6th Edible Manhattan, Edible East End and Edible Brooklyn—in conjunction with Edibles statewide and GrowNYC—present Eat Drink Local week, our celebration of the local food chain through heirloom vegetable auctions, wine tastings, DIY challenges, lectures, garden tours, farm to table dinners and countless other events. Over the next few weeks we’re highlighting a few of the restaurants, wine shops and wineries, breweries and beer bars, farms and food artisans and cultural institutions that the week is meant to celebrate.

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Jesse Hirsch

Formerly the print editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, Jesse Hirsch now works as the New York editor for GOOD magazine.