Tour highlights farm’s substantiality, products

New piglets in their outdoor hoop house at Bolster Farm in Fort Plain. (Photo submitted)

FORT PLAIN — For more than a year, the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market has been selling meat from Bolster Farm for good reasons.

“It’s a really great quality product–the taste, the texture,” said the store’s general manage Gianna DeLilli.

The market recently hosted a visit to the family farm on Kilts Road to illustrate where some of their food comes from, a rarity these days when the consumers and producers of food may sometimes be thousands of miles apart.

“We want to get the community involved in [the way] they make the product,” DeLilli said.

Mike Bolster and his wife try to raise beef cattle and pigs in a sustainable way. As much as possible, the animals graze off the land on a rotating basis so that pastures don’t become depleted but actually benefit from animal manure, he said. “I think this kind of farming is more sustainable–you’re putting back into the field, not just taking out,” he said.

Cattle grazing at Bolster Farm in Fort Plain. (Photo submitted)

The animals have handled the rotating pastures very well.

“They’re very calm and easy to handle.” Bolster said.

The cattle are strictly grass fed year-round, but some minerals are added to their feeding areas if the soil is low in these minerals, such as selenium. While the pigs also graze, they are fed on brewers grain and apples during part of their lifespan to increase their health and bulk.

“We would like to graze our pigs more,” Bolster said. “It’s a lot cheaper for me to let my cows harvest that fields” than using fuel and machinery to plow them.

“We can use the animals to eat weeded areas and revitalize these areas,” he said.

On a much smaller scale, his animals graze the way Buffalo grazed on the Great Plains.

“We’re trying to mimic that,” he said.

Bolster has added apple, pear, plum, maple, oak and birch trees and welcomes birds and turkeys and a wider variety of plant and animal life. He’s added a small flock of ducks that just wander around and eat insects.

“We have a much bigger bird population,” he said.