The Third Generation: Laura DeMaria, Farmer, Owner & Shopkeeper of Hemlock Hill Farm

By Julia Sexton / Photography By Christine Ashburn | May 15, 2017
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Owner of Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortland stands among whole cows ready to be butchered.
Not much can intimidate DeMaria, especially when it comes to butchering.

The story of Hemlock Hill is long and, at times, tragic. The 120 acres in Cortlandt Manor has been in the DeMaria family since 1939, when Bronx native Nicholas DeMaria fulfilled his city-kid dream to own land. For 78 years, this now Certified Organic farm (which raises vegetables, pigs, cattle, goats and chickens) has dodged the development that erased most of Westchester’s other farms. Laura is stepping into her father’s shoes and modernizing the operation.

In the ’90s, a fire struck Hemlock Hill’s 200-year-old hay barn, burning it to the ground. Another fire, in 2013, leveled a separate 150-year-old structure. Says DeMaria, “For our history, two fires isn’t that extraordinary. They were naturally occurring fires—damp hay, natural combustion, weather-temperature conditions. But we took the second fire as an opportunity to make some changes. That’s when I opened the Kickstarter to get the community involved.”

Westchester restaurants, marshaled by Scott Vaccaro of Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, held a week of fund-raisers to support the DeMarias. That money, combined with the insurance settlement, and the Kickstarter, raised $30,000—enough to build a new barn and a chicken coop. DeMaria has also renovated the farm’s slaughterhouse; now, operating under a USDA license, Hemlock Hill can break down its livestock and sell the butchered cuts more profitably in its shop.

HEMLOCK HILL FARM | 500 Croton Ave., Cortlandt 

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