Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the questions we get asked most often. If you have any questions that you don’t see here, please email us at info@fiveacrefarms.com or chat with us on Twitter (@danfiveacrefarm).

OUR COMPANY

Why the name Five Acre Farms?

Five Acre Farms founder and CEO Dan Horan conceived of the company almost 20 years ago and refined the concept over time. At one time, he thought the company would own or franchise a number of five-acre farms along the East Coast and work closely with farmers to market the food they produced. Hence the name. What’s significant about five is that you can produce a huge amount of food and operate a viable business on just five acres of land. In refining his business plan, Dan concluded that the company could make local food available to more consumers, and in doing so support more farmers, with the model that exists today — that is, with Five Acre Farms being a brand of local food that partners with, rather than owns, farms.

Why 275 miles?

Some people say 50 miles; others say 500. The federal food safety law defines local food as being produced within 275 miles of where it’s sold, and we think that’s reasonable for the Northeast. For comparison, Walmart considers a day’s drive to be local, and The Park Slope Coop in Brooklyn defines local as coming from within 500 miles.

Are Five Acre Farms products certified?

We’re working with independent third-party organizations that will evaluate and certify all of our sustainable farming and business practices and help us measure our achievements over time. We’re also exploring establishing a new local food certification program – the first of its kind – for our own company and the broader local food movement, which would work much like the program that has been used for years to certify organic food.

Why don’t you have more participating farmers?

We’re working on it. We’re a new company and will be bringing on more participating farmers as we grow. We’re currently talking with farmers in the Catskills, Connecticut, western Massachusetts, southern Vermont, and even as far north as Maine.

Do you sell your products at farmers markets?

Most farmers markets are really just for farmers so we’re not eligible. We love farmers markets and strongly support farmers selling their products directly. We wouldn’t want to interfere with that.

Where can I buy your products?

Check out the store locator on our website for up-to-date information about where to find our products.

How do I get my neighborhood supermarket to stock your products?

Please ask the store manager.

DAIRY PRODUCTS

Is your milk organic?

We don’t have an organic line yet, but we wholeheartedly support organic farmers. Our milk is Grade A, pasteurized and homogenized, and doesn’t contain any added hormones or antibiotics. Our farmers use sustainable farming practices. They grow all of their own feed, and their cows are not treated with rBST or preventive antibiotics.

What’s the difference between your milk and organic milk?

The biggest difference between our milk and any other milk is that it’s fresher and tastes better. Most organic milk has a 60-day shelf life because it’s ultra-pasteurized, while our milk has 17-day pasteurization. Organic milk is more about the farmer’s agricultural practices and how the herd is fed than the purity or quality of the milk. In terms of the use of antibiotics, we believe that when a cow gets sick, you should remove it from the milking herd and treat it, and once it’s healthy and the antibiotics have been washed out of its system, return it to the herd. Organic farmers don’t have this option and must remove the cow completely. If they choose to treat the cow, they can’t return it to the herd.

How much sugar is in your milk?

All the sugar in our milk occurs naturally. An 8-oz. serving of any variety of our milk contains 12 grams of sugar.

Isn’t all milk local?

No. As we’ve learned, milk isn’t just milk, and it’s not all local. Milk sold in stores in the Northeast, for example, can come from as far away as the Midwest and further, and quality varies widely. When you buy Five Acre Farms milk, you know that you’re buying the highest-quality, freshest and best-tasting milk. But we don’t stop there. We tell you exactly which farm made it. You know that only sustainable farming practices and processes were used along the way. You know that your milk doesn’t contain any artificial or added hormones or antibiotics. In a sense, through Five Acre Farms, you know your farmers personally.

Why is your milk so inexpensive?

We’re trying very hard to make a high-quality, local product accessible to many people.

Why is your milk so expensive?

We like the way our products are priced. When you take a look at the prices out there, we’re about in the middle, and you just can’t find higher-quality dairy at the price.

What do you feed your cows?

Our cows are primarily grass-fed; they also eat corn grown by our farmers.

How are your dairy products packaged? Why don’t you use cartons or glass containers instead of plastic?

Our gallon and half gallon jugs of milk and our pint containers of heavy cream and half and half are made of recyclable High Density Polyethylene (HDPE #2). We plan to introduce paperboard cartons in the future. We do our best to use packaging that has the smallest possible impact on the environment and are always researching ways to improve our practices. We’ve found that there’s no perfect solution when choosing between plastic and cartons, with each alternative having pros and cons. For example, cartons tend to leak and though made of paper are recycled only about 40% of the time. Plastic containers have a significantly higher overall recycling rate (96%) than cartons and are available in gallons sizes. Glass, while attractive and 100% recyclable, is breakable and much heavier than plastic, making it about 30% less energy-efficient to transport.

APPLE CIDER

Where do the apples for your cider come from?

Our cider is made using apples grown at Champlain Orchards in Shoreham, Vermont, the oldest continuously operating orchard in the state. Owners Bill Suhr and Andrea Scott cultivate more than 50 apple varieties in their 130-acre orchard on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Where is the cider pressed?

Our cider is made on site at Champlain Orchards using a modern belt press and a refurbished five head, stainless steel rotary bottle filler. A state-of-the-art facility is currently being built to house two large cider presses.

Is your cider organic?

No. The need to keep disease and pests at bay in the Northeast region makes it very difficult to grow organic apples successfully. Champlain Orchards’ staff cares for their trees year-round to minimize the use of synthetic inputs. They’ve been planting significant acreage in disease-resistant strains with the intention of transitioning the trees to organic production once they begin to yield fruit.

What sustainable farming practices do your growers use?

In caring for their trees, the Champlain team follows Integrated Pest Management (IPM) guidelines, the leading approach to managing pests while minimizing environmental impacts. (These guidelines are included in the New England Apple Pest Management Guide and the IPM checklist for the State of Vermont put together by the University of Vermont.) In the orchards, the growers actively monitor insect traps and install mating disruption lures to minimize synthetic inputs. Going beyond IPM to protect the environment, Champlain Orchards is installing two fields of solar panels that will meet all of the farm’s electrical energy needs, reducing its carbon footprint.

What varieties of apples do you use in your cider?

The best apple cider is made with a blend of apple varieties. Macintosh, the traditional New England base for cider, is blended with up to 20 varieties including Honeycrisp, a new favorite. We hope you enjoy the flavors as they evolve with the mix of apple varieties and the progression of each season.

Does your cider contain any additives or preservatives?

No.

Is your cider pasteurized?

Yes. All of our cider is pasteurized.

What makes apple cider cloudy?

The sediment or pulp that can settle in the cider is natural and results from small pieces of apple skin and flesh that are allowed to pass through the filtration process during pressing. The sediment is nutritious and makes cider taste delicious!

If your cider is made from 100% apples, why does one jug contain 30 grams of sugar?

Those are the natural sugars that come straight from the apples themselves.

How long does your cider last?

The cider lasts three weeks from when it was bottled. Check the “best by” date stamped on each jug. Remember that no preservatives are added, so be sure to refrigerate the cider below 40 degrees.

Why do you use plastic jugs? Why not glass?

Our cider jugs are made of recyclable High Density Polyethylene (HDPE #2). We’ve found that there’s no perfect solution when choosing between plastic and glass; each has pros and cons. For example, glass, while attractive and 100% recyclable, is breakable and much heavier than plastic, making it about 30% less energy-efficient to transport. Re-using the glass also requires soaps and energy to properly sterilize the bottles at high temperatures. We do our best to use packaging that has the smallest possible impact on the environment and are always researching ways to improve our practices.

When is your cider available?

Our cider season runs from September through March.

EGGS

Which egg farms do you work with, and where are they located?

Our eggs come from Maple Meadow Farm in Salisbury, Vermont, owned and operated by second-generation farmers George and Jackie Devoid.

How do you treat your hens?

Our hens are cage free. They live in climate-controlled barns, have access to feed and water at all times and are checked on several times during the day and night. The Devoids themselves and their staff spend a lot of time in their barns, interacting with the hens and monitoring their behavior. They check on the feed, water and lighting. They make sure that the hens are alert, bright-eyed and calm, have smooth feathers and are laying consistently – the primary signs of happy, healthy hens. The happier the hens, the more – and better – eggs they produce. (In fact, stressed hens tend to lay eggs with lower-quality shells.)

What does the term “cage free” really mean?

Cage free eggs are laid by hens that have free run of the whole barn and have unlimited access to food and water. Maple Meadow’s state-of-the-art cage free barn is equipped with raised platforms where the hens walk, and there’s a series of nesting boxes in the middle of the barn for the hens to lay their eggs. The boxes are dimly lit to create an inviting, stress-free place for laying.

Are your eggs organic?

No. Our eggs are not certified organic by USDA.

Why don’t your hens get to roam around outside?

The area around Maple Meadow Farm is a favorite stopover for a large number of migrating Canada geese. Because these visitors and other types of wild birds can be carriers of disease, it wouldn’t be safe for our hens to live outside. They’re healthy and content indoors.

What do you feed your hens?

Our hens are fed the highest-quality feed composed of corn and soybeans. They eat crushed oyster shells for extra calcium, which helps strengthen the eggshell. The hens’ diet is also supplemented with trace minerals including iron and salt.

Do you give your hens antibiotics?

No. Our hens are never given hormones or preventive antibiotics.

How do you clean your eggs?

As the eggs enter the processing room, they’re rolled gently onto a conveyer belt and through a washer (think mini car wash) where they’re bathed in a food-grade washing solution.

What types of food safety processes do you use?

Safe handling produces a safe egg. Our eggs are washed and sorted carefully and screened for cracks and imperfections using an ultrasonic detector. Maple Meadow uses safe handling practices, strictly enforces sanitation rules and passes regular state and federal inspections with flying colors. Their barns are bio-secure with limited access to ensure that no unwanted bacteria or disease enters the hens’ living area.

Where do your hens come from?

Our hens are hatched at Westwind Farms in Interlaken, New York. Some of our hens come to us when they’re just one day old, while others are 18 weeks old. When they arrive, they’ve already had their necessary tests and vaccinations to ensure that they’re healthy.

How long does it take for the eggs to go from the farm to store shelves?

Our eggs are delivered from the farm within 36 hours of when they’re gathered.

What happens to your hens at the end of their lives?

Typically, our hens are finished laying eggs for us when they’re 74 to 80 weeks old. At this stage, most hens have stopped laying eggs, and those that do lay eggs produce lower-quality shells. The hens are then sold at live markets in New York and Boston.

What happens to the male chicks?

Maple Meadow doesn’t hatch and raise male chicks.

Why are your eggs brown? Why are some eggs brown while others are white?

Our eggs are brown because they’re laid by Rhode Island Reds, which are reddish-brown in color. White hens lay white eggs. It’s as simple as that.

What’s the difference between brown eggs and white eggs?

The only difference is in the shell. Brown eggs generally have a slightly thicker shell. (The thickness of the shell also relates to the hen’s age and how long she’s been laying. As hens age, their eggs become larger and eventually the shells get thinner.)

Why are brown eggs more expensive than white eggs?

Brown hens are larger, more robust hens. They eat much more grain and take up more space. By comparison, white hens are petite and eat less. As a result, it costs more to produce a brown egg than a white egg.

How long can I keep your eggs in the refrigerator?

Our eggs, among the freshest available, keep in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks.

Are your egg cartons recyclable?

Yes.

APPLE SAUCE

Where do you get the apples for your sauce?

We put the grower’s name on every jar of our apple sauce. We bought the apples for our first batch of sauce directly from Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, New York. The Samascott family has been farming in the fertile Hudson River Valley since the 1900’s and perfecting apples since the 1940’s.

Where is the sauce made?

We believe in local sourcing as well as local processing. Our first run of sauce was made in small batches at Farm to Table, a food packaging facility in Kingston, New York, following Five Acre Farm’s own recipe.

Is your sauce organic?

Growing organic apples in the Northeast has proven to be very difficult, so while we embrace the principles of organic farming, the apples that go into our sauce are not certified organic.

What sustainable farming practices do your growers use?

Five Acre Farms partners with farmers whose practices help preserve farmland and protect groundwater. The Samascotts monitor their orchards closely, minimize the use of synthetic pesticides and use a number of IPM practices. These include growing disease-resistant varieties to reduce the need for spraying and pruning frequently to ensure that their trees get plenty of sunlight to keep pests and disease at bay. When they turn over an orchard block, they use the old trees to heat their greenhouses, and they grow pumpkins or strawberries for several years to recondition the soil.

What varieties of apples do you use in your sauce?

We use just the right mix of two of our favorites among the best varieties available in the Northeast.

Can you share the recipe for your sauce so I can make it at home?

We could give you the recipe, but then we’d have to kill you. What’s most important to know is that we start with spectacular, 100% local apples, grown in the Northeast’s best orchards. Our growers select each variety for its flavor, and Northern growing conditions intensify its special traits. We cook the apples whole for a full-flavored sauce that balances sweet and tart and has just the right consistency. We never add sugar as a sweetener — because we don’t need to — and we never add water to increase yield. We think our sauce tastes better than homemade!

Do you plan to make new flavors of apple sauce – like berry or cinnamon?

One reason our sauce tastes so great is that the apples stand on their own – and we leave them alone. That said, we’re experimenting with a few local ingredients that would be delicious combined with our sauce.

If your sauce is made from 100% apples, why does one jar contain 12 grams of sugar?

Those are the natural sugars that come straight from the apples themselves.

Why do you add ascorbic acid to your sauce?

Every batch of our sauce is tested just before it goes into jars to make sure that it has the proper pH level to give it a safe shelf life. Depending on the acidity of the apples, we may need to add a very small amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to certain batches to meet this food safety standard. Happily, even though ascorbic acid is listed as an ingredient, we haven’t yet had to add it to our sauce.

I understand that your sauce is shelf-stable, but how long does it last?

Our sauce has a two-year shelf life.

APPLE JUICE

Where do you get the apples for your juice?

We put the grower’s name on every jar of our apple juice. We bought the apples for our first juice run directly from Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, New York. The Samascott family has been farming in the fertile Hudson River Valley since the 1900’s and perfecting apples since the 1940’s.

Where is the juice made?

We believe in local processing as well as local sourcing. Our first run of juice was made to our specifications at Wayne County Foods, a beverage packaging facility in northern New Jersey.

Is your juice organic?

Growing organic apples in the Northeast has proven to be very difficult, so while we embrace the principles of organic farming, the apples used to make our juice are not certified organic.

What varieties of apples do you use in your juice?

We use a combination of the best varieties available – and ones that our growers have found produce the most flavorful, high-quality juice.

Does your juice contain any additives or preservatives?

No. It’s also important to know that we also don’t add any enzymes to break down the fruit in the process of making our juice. (Many major brands use enzymes as a processing aide to break down the fiber and nutrients that can clog their filtering equipment.)

If you don’t add sugar, why does one serving contain 25 grams of sugar?

Those are the natural sugars that come straight from the apples.

Is your juice pasteurized?

Yes. Our juice is hot-filled into airtight bottles, and then quickly cooled, to ensure a safe two-year shelf life.

Why is your juice so cloudy?

We put as much of the apple as possible in the bottle, so what you see floating in our juice are small pieces of the fruit. Because we don’t filter or strain our juice, it contains more of the apple’s natural nutritional benefits and tastes better. Cloudy is a good thing!

Your apple juice looks like cider. What’s the difference between your juice and your cider?

The main difference is that our juice is hot-filled into airtight bottles, and then quickly cooled, to ensure a safe two-year shelf life. Our cider, while pasteurized, is perishable and needs constant refrigeration. Cider lasts three weeks from when it was bottled.

How long does your juice last once the bottle is opened?

Our apple juice lasts about two weeks in the refrigerator after being opened. But it’s so tasty that the bottle will be empty well before then!

What’s wrong with concentrate?

Concentrate is useful because it makes certain foods easier to ship long distances, making them available in regions where people wouldn’t otherwise have access to them. But concentrate just isn’t necessary to make apple juice sold in the Northeast, where so many great-tasting apples are grown. Because we use 100% local apples and make our juice at a local processing facility, there’s no need for concentrate.

What sustainable farming practices do your growers use?

Five Acre Farms partners with farmers whose practices help preserve farmland and protect groundwater. The Samascotts monitor their orchards closely, minimize the use of synthetic pesticides and use a number of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices. These include growing disease-resistant varieties to reduce the need for spraying and pruning frequently to ensure that their trees get plenty of sunlight to keep pests and disease at bay. When they turn over an orchard block, they use the old trees to heat their greenhouses, and they grow pumpkins or strawberries for several years to recondition the soil.