A foodie friend was raving about a burger she’d recently eaten, declaring it the best burger she’d ever had. “And I’m from Oklahoma and know my red meat,” she added, by way of a convincing credential. Her cousin Suzy was equally as fired up about some yogurt. “And she lived in Bologna,” noted my friend, to give some oomph to Suzy’s opinion. The beef and yogurt that excited all this enthusiasm came from Pleroma Farm in Hudson, which turns out to be a therapeutic retreat as well as a 97-acre biodynamic farm.
The farm was started in 1986 by Dr. Ana Lups, a Dutch cardiologist who switched gears 30-some years ago to practice anthroposophical medicine, which takes a holistic approach to health. “It’s a branch of medicine that’s very truthful to me,” Dr. Lups says. “Out of it flows the whole concept of biodynamism.” (Google Rudolf Steiner and you can read all about it.) Sounds New Age-y to us perhaps, but it’s widely recognized in Europe. “We’re 20 years ahead on the farm, even though it’s very small scale,” the lively Dr. Lups announces.
The grotto at Pleroma Farm
As a therapeutic retreat, Pleroma is aimed at those with chronic or catastrophic illnesses, or anyone who wants to “restore mental balance,” and maybe do some farm chores. (Don’t sneer; how many farmers do you know experiencing a spiritual crisis?) “We have patients that are lost souls, and reconnecting them to nature is very important for them,” Dr. Lups says. “They wake up with birdsong, everything’s in harmony, and it helps them to reconnect.” As for the educational programs: “We have students from all over the world who come and learn about the garden and the livestock, and how to sustain themselves with fresh food. It’s invaluable.”
The students, patients, or guests at the farm are the only ones who can now have the yogurt, butter, cream or raw milk, as Dr. Lups has given up her license to sell unpasteurized products. “I have only two cows to milk, so the cost of a license is preposterous. But they give ten gallons a day. If you drink warm milk that’s just come out of the cow, you feel well for the rest of the day,” she says — and as an energetic 74-year-old running what she calls “this whole show,” she’s a vivid example of the benefits.
The chickens get organic feed and live in movable pens pulled over pastureland so they can peck around. The pigs and Dutch belted cows are also pasture raised. “No chemicals, no hormones, nothing,” says the doctor.
The store sells free-range eggs, chickens, ground beef, steaks, and various cuts of beef and pork (stored in a walk-in freezer), honey and fresh vegetables. “People can also pick their own vegetables, or choose things from the root cellar. It’s all very uncomplicated,” Dr. Lups says. “A new product is non-alcoholic fermented herbal teas with no caffeine,” she adds.
Pleroma Farm’s Web site says the farm shop is open Friday afternoons and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. But Dr. Lups says it’s open “24/7. It’s not locked. You can go in and leave the money. It’s expensive,” she admits. “But the quality counts.” My friend from Oklahoma heartily agrees, at least as far as the beef goes.
“Come and see how beautiful it is, how well it is run, how clean,” says the doctor.