It was October 2006, and Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge were partaking in that most classic of Manhattanite autumnal rituals: upstate apple picking. Driving up Route 20, they had no idea how much their lives were about to change.
Stumbling upon the past oasis town of Sharon Springs, they happened upon a grand white Georgian-Federal house with Palladian windows among the rolling farmland. It was so pristine and grandiose that they mistook it for a museum. Apples suddenly took the backseat—the two were so transfixed by the building that they changed routes to a local hotel. Inquiring with the front desk, they found that it was actually a house… and it was on the market. As fate would have it, the real estate agent was moonlighting as the hostess of the hotel restaurant. They immediately arranged a tour.
Seven months later, and the two owned the newly christened Beekman 1802, named for the original owner and the year of construction. And they fully embraced their new idyllic life. Previously, they grew vegetables on the roof of their Upper East Side condo, but now they had unlimited space. They began an organic garden from heirloom seeds and spent hours making foods with time-honored techniques. They also enmeshed themselves within the local farming and maker community. Josh, a writer and partner at an ad agency, set up Beekman 1802 Mercantile, a blog to document their city-to-farm lifestyle.
One day they took in a neighboring farmer and his herd of 80 beloved dairy goats. With surplus goat milk, they started making cheese and soap… but then they had a surplus of cheese and soap! The shop opened by necessity, and their eager followers were only too willing customers. They amassed a team of 14 local makers, and began selling more goods. The Times noticed. Then the Cooking Channel approached them with a deal for The Fabulous Beekman Boys. Then, on a whim they competed on The Amazing Race… and won. Turns out a farm can be much bigger than its fences.
Somehow they still find time to be makers, producing goods seasonally, “because that’s how the goats, chickens, pigs and gardens do it.” And they personally vouch for everything, because they eat, use and wear everything they sell.
How do you like them apples?