The Kent family of Milton was recently recognized for their Locust Grove Fruit Farm being in continuous use for a little more than 200 years.
Ulster County Legislator Tom Corcoran acknowledged the family for this milestone.
“This is an outstanding feat and is fantastic for the town and the Kent family. It’s unbelievable, it really is,” he said. “On behalf of myself and Legislator Gina Hansut, we’d like to congratulate the Kent family for being here for 200 years.”
Corcoran said today, “your grandparents are looking down and they are proud of what you’ve done here and we look forward to another 200 years.”
Corcoran presented the family with a Pride of Ulster County Proclamation to pay tribute to “this Hudson Valley agricultural institution,” and to highlight the continuous operation of the Kent family farm in Milton since 1820.
Corcoran said the farm has over the years adapted to changing markets.
“Locust Grove has been a pioneer in the field of craft cider making, farming and market movements and participating in some of the largest farm markets in New York City. Locust Grove Fruit Farm has established itself as the premier orchard for agri-tourism and pick-your-own apples with people coming from all over the world to the Hudson Valley each fall to pick apples and generate significant benefit to Ulster County. Three generations of Kents continue the legacy of their forefathers and wisdom of farming and agriculture onto the next generation. Despite hardships over the last 200 years, this is a testimony to the skill and dedication of the Kent family and their business to our community. Thank you very much and congratulations.”
Chip Kent said the reason for their success is, “You work hard, you’re supposed to sweat every day and the key is the next generation. It is also liking what you do and we enjoy it when everything is going smoothly and we don’t enjoy it when it’s not but that’s how things go.” He said the farm is located, “in a beautiful spot with a great family to back us up to keep it going and good friends.”
Peggy Kent is pleased with the Ulster County recognition.
“I think it’s fabulous that you can persevere in farming for all of these years through the good times and the bad and always staying one step ahead in the market in finding new ways to generate revenue and compete against the grocery stores and stay viable,” she said. “The science changes, the pests change, the diseases change, the market changes, so you’re always having to pivot and figure out what’s the right direction.”
Peggy said they would not be here without their loyal customer base, “not just in the brewery but all the customers in the city who support us through the Green Market and all of the wholesale customers we’ve had over the years; all of the people who have made it worthwhile for us to get up and work really hard. Without the customers we wouldn’t be here and without a community that supports us and all of the organizations that help us keep farming.”
Peggy said they offer lilacs, rhubarb, strawberries, berries, cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, 90 varieties of apples, pears, corn, tomatoes, squash and pumpkins on their 100 acre farm. They deliver to New York City and Hudson Valley locations from Tuesday through Sunday.
James Kent said the first farmer was Jonathan Kent who came to the area from Springfield, Massachusetts.
“There were jobs available here and he started working for Benjamin Sands, a shipbuilder on the Hudson River, and he married his daughter,” he said.
At that time the farm was only one piece where the manor house is located. He acquired additional land where the new yellow barn is situated through an auction.
James concurred that the farm’s longevity is due to, “hard work and passing it on to the next generation,” adding that each generation made their children work, all of whom have contributed to the farms overall success.
Supervisor Scott Corcoran said when you think of Milton you think of the Kent family.
“Marlborough has been built on agriculture since the beginning, and the Kents have pretty much been here since then. They have a beautiful property and land to work off of, which makes it great. It’s been generation after generation and each has changed a little something to go along with the times. I think you would never know Milton without the Kents and I think you will see them for another 200 years, without a doubt, because they always reinvent themselves.”
Corcoran noted that the present generation of Kents started a pick-your-own and established the Locust Grove Brewing Company, “and I think that’s the next generation’s niche right now.”
Emma Cohen, Director of Strategic Initiatives for NYS Sen. Michelle Hinchey, presented the Kents with a state proclamation in honor of the 200th anniversary of the farm.
“I want to say congratulations and thank you for staying in this area, staying farmers and you support so many things in the community and the stewardship that you do,” she said. “To see the entire community here supporting you is wonderful, and here’s to another 200.”