Tom Holmes is the middle of three generations of farmers at Holmquest Farms on Spook Rock Road in Greenport. The main product of the farm is vegetables as well as flowers and perennials. He first plants sweet corn on April 7, and then again every five days until July 20. The warm spring of 2012 gave them the first harvest on June 28, something he’s never seen before. Typically he expects the sweet corn to be harvested by Columbus Day Weekend in mid-October.
Loca-voracious. Antonio and Meghan Abitabile of Hudson try some local salsa corn relish, beet salad, and eggplant surprise from Terri Holmes’ both for Holmquest Farms, also of Hudson, at Columbia County Bounty’s Taste of Columbia County Bounty Dinner Monday, August 2, at the county fairgrounds in Chatham. Over 300 guests sampled the products and creations for 45 farms and more than 30 restaurants. This year’s dinner was a tribute to the late Vicki Simons, co-founder of the event.
For generations the Holmquest Farm acres on Spook Rock Road in Hudson have been owned and operated by the Holmes family. Dick Holmes’ father Richard ran a dairy operation, complimented with strawberries and other seasonal produce. Dick and his wife Elaine continued the dairy until the cows left in 1975. They expanded the vegetables to meet the ever-increasing demand.
Early Spring months are the busy season for the many flowers and vegetable plants they sell. Dick, although retired from the greenhouses for about three years now, still remains active on the farm. He remembers the year they built their first greenhouse, 1988. In prior years, most of the transplants were obtained from Georgia in early Spring. This one year, the young plants arrived with disease and the Holmes family realized it’s better to grow their own. They started out with a table of about 100 geraniums and Terri says now they raise about 7,500. Right now in the greenhouses there are some beautiful flowering hibiscus and asters.
Tom and Terri Holmes are running Holmquest Farms today. Their son Thomas at age 10 is already a big help to them on the farm. Thomas doesn’t mind the hard work and long hours. His Mom says he will wake up in the early morning hours to accompany her up to Albany with the creates of vegetables for market.
School kids are frequent visitors to the farm. Many of the local schools arrange trips to Holmquest, especially in the Fall for the pumpkin crop. A Greenport Elementary class toured the greenhouses this Spring in conjunction with their science lesson on seed germination. But increasingly the students were more fascinated by the heat in the greenhouses. Many of them cried, “It’s so hot in here, how can you stand it?” For the Holmes family, it’s just part of the job.
Tom and Terri have been raising vegetables for about thirteen years together. Although Terri wasn’t a farm girl as a youngster, her grandmother’s farm was a part of her life and she has an uncle who farms to this day. She didn’t hesitate to help out with the picking (strawberries) when the elder Holmes family members needed help. It seems Tom knew a good farmer when he saw her and managed to fall in love and keep her at his side ever since.
Abundant bins of vegetables are the focal point these summer days. The #1 item, not surprisingly, is the sweet corn. Bushels of cabbage, cucumbers, and squash fill the back staging area. The sumptuous colors of fresh produce delight the eye. Tomatoes and peppers fill the shelves with more varieties than one can imagine. Terri says the melons will be coming soon; luscious homegrown red watermelon and cantaloupe varieties, sweet and local.
Holmquest Farms is open seven days a week, from 8am to 5pm. Be sure to visit and enjoy their bounty.