In the Field: George Kappelt of Flavor Farm
George Kappelt* is a chef’s best friend. As a grower of colorful heirloom tomatoes, rare hot peppers, and delicate micro greens, he supplies many local restaurants with essential fresh ingredients. His Lockport farm, while small, grows a large variety of these crops and is tended with extreme care for the health of the plants, soil, and the environment surrounding the farm. Flavor Farm used to table at several area farmers’ markets, but this summer those who wish to enjoy the pleasures of Kappelt’s hand-selected crop will need to head out to the farm. No worries, though; his acreage is surrounded by some of the Niagara Wine Trail’s best wineries, making the venture a perfect day trip.
How did you begin farming?
I bought part of my parents’ farm six years ago.
How big is your farm?
24.5 acres total, with 3 under cultivation.
Flavor Farm is best known for:
Hot peppers, heirloom tomatoes, micro greens.
What most people don’t realize about farming is:
The diversity and number of farms.
Can you briefly describe your farming practices?
I try to provide my plants with a good home, meaning that I work to improve my soil with the addition of compost and cover crops and use crop rotation. I also add a little fish/kelp foliar spray as the season progresses.
My go-to references for farming are:
[The Oregon State University site] www.eOrganic.info, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s vegetable program, and especially Robert Haddad and Jud Reid of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.
Heirloom tomatoes! I heat a skillet add a little olive oil. I core and slice the tomatoes, add them to the pan, salt them, and cover. The tomatoes cook down and produce a lot of liquid. Then the fun starts. I use the liquid to cook orzo, rice, or even couscous. Throw in whatever vegetable or herb is available, leftover wine, or even clams, shrimp, or anything else.
Favorite seed seller?
I’m not a parent but I think this question is a bit like who is your favorite kid. If I had to pick one I would say Johnny’s Seeds in Maine, but I try to support as many companies that sell open pollinated, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds as I can. I don’t want them to be bought out by the big conglomerates.
Where can we find Flavor Farm’s produce?
You can find us on the farm at our weekend farm stand, and on the menu at various restaurants. Koop’s Kitchen (www.koopskitchen.com) brand sauces also use our peppers and tomatoes.
Best beverage to quench your thirst after a long day in the field:
Anything from my neighbors, especially Arrowhead Spring Vineyards.
What Buffalo’s food scene really needs:
A real Mexican restaurant.
5126 Lower Mountain Rd., Lockport
*George Kappelt passed away on June 10, 2012. He was a kind and gentle man who was loved by many. His contributions to his community were notable. He will be missed.