Photos courtesy of Bovina Farm & Fermentory
Jake Sackett and Elizabeth Starks own a picturesque Catskills farmhouse in the woods of Delaware County, but here’s the catch: it’s open to the public.
2951 County Road 5, Bovina Center bovinafarmfermentory.com
Embracing their shared roots of family farming and inspiration from time spent living in the Czech Republic, the couple opened Bovina Farm & Fermentory in August 2021, a locale they describe as a place to gather, eat, and drink.
They met back in 2011 as undergrads at Cornell University, where Sackett focused on agriculture and sustainability and Starks majored in industrial and labor relations. While both were studying abroad in Prague, they came across several tavern-like establishments run out of the owners’ homes. Intrigued by the concept— and supported by the Sackett family’s multi-generation experience as Catskills dairy farmers—starting their own version was a no brainer. When looking for land near Sackett’s relatives in Delhi, they found their own piece of tranquility in Bovina, and began construction on their house and farm in 2017.
Surrounded by nature and a fully functional farm and garden, their large, Dutch Colonial-style home has been open to visitors for a year as a place for people to unplug (seriously, there’s no cell service), dine, and converse. Seating is available inside at a few long tables where they encourage you to grab a chair off the wall pegs and take a seat. Although there’s no formal seating outdoors, the property is perfect for spreading out a picnic blanket to enjoy their food and drinks.
Starks and Sackett may not have traditional culinary backgrounds, but their shared agricultural experiences inspire them to cook simple foods that let the ingredients speak for themselves. Everything is prepared onsite by the couple using a mix of local produce and fruits and veggies the couple grow on their own farm. There isn’t a set menu to peruse online—since all dishes are dependent on what’s available to them seasonally—but Starks says you can expect duck rillettes, venison scotch eggs, fresh ricotta with beans and peas, house-made butter and jam with fresh baked bread, and a variety of fruit pies this season. Try these small plates and more Friday–Sunday from 2–8 p.m. throughout the summer season and early fall.
All the beer on tap is from the fermentory in their barn. “A typical brewery might offer a bigger selection, but we wanted beer to just be a small part of what we do, which is why we call it a ‘fermentory’ instead,” Starks says. The beer is made from all NYS-grown grains and mountain spring water, and aged in oak wine barrels. They focus on lagers and mixed cultural styles.
In the off season, you can make a reservation for farm lunches and dinners of hors d’oeuvres and four-course meals paired with their homemade beers (they can seat up to 34). Diners share communal tables inside the cozy farmhouse and eat by candlelight and gas lanterns with friends and strangers alike (they’ve had guests from as far away as Paris, so you never know who you’ll meet). Booking is easy—just shoot them an email.
Ultimately, the couple hopes to change visitors’ perspectives on food and sustainability. “We’re really small, so it’s all about sharing what we know how to do. It’s our mission to bring people back to that traditional way of living from your own property and neighboring farms, and working with your community as a resource.”