When Barb Keegan first met Steve Damin and he told her he was a dairy farmer from New York, she said “Yeah right, and the moon is made of green cheese!” Now, over 36 years later, she says she knows better!
Steve and Barb Damin met in Hill City, SD in late winter of 1977, where Barb (Keegan) worked for the U.S. Forest Service. She was a local girl from Rapid City, SD. Steve, a New York native who had traveled to South Dakota after high school, had opened a mining company located in Keystone, SD.
Steve’s parents, back in St. Johnsville, NY, were having difficulty finding and keeping farm help, so, as their two little girls neared school age, Steve and Barb made the decision to move back to New York State onto Damin’s family farm.
Now that their three children are all grown and on their own, Barb and Steve run a successful dairy, milking 75 Holsteins, with some of their cows producing up to 150 pounds per day.
In addition to the dairy, Damin Farm has diversified over the years, first selling meat and preserves, then opening a farm store in 2011 to accommodate their growing list of products and their many patrons.
“We grow as much as we can,” said Barb, who turns much of the produce grown on the farm into delicious concoctions sold in Damin’s farm store.
“What we don’t grow, we buy locally — and I do mean locally!” added Steve.
The demand for Barb’s preserves, pickles and canned goods began at a local craft fair about 20 years ago, where folks bought up all of her supplies and wanted more. “I learned from my mom to make preserves, and I really enjoy doing it!”
While Barb does much of the cooking and canning, Steve is right there, not only running the dairy, but helping in the store kitchen and coming up with new ideas for recipes.
One example is the five varieties of sauerkraut they sell. “We’ve got plain sauerkraut, red sauerkraut, sauerkraut with cauliflower, sauerkraut with broccoli and sauerkraut with hot peppers,” Steve counts off.
Damin’s say that this is the time of year they take a multitude of orders for the specialty sauerkraut. “People order it for Christmas presents.”
Smoked garlic powder is another new item Damin’s recently added to their inventory. “Steve just came up with it,” Barb said. “He’s always coming up with something new!”
Pickled garlic and hot pickled garlic are always in demand. “We grow all of our garlic here that we pickle,” commented Barb.
Other products that Damin Farm produces includes all kinds of produce in season, pumpkins, berries, jams, pop corn, fennel, apple sauce, barbecue sauces and maple syrup, which is available year round. Extra large eggs from their Rhode Island Red hens and all cuts of beef, pork and chicken are available at the farm store. “We use what comes from here,” remarked Barb.
In addition to selling from the farm store, Steve and Barb sell year round at a farmers’ market on Saturday’s at the train station in Utica, where the customers look for Damin’s specialty items. They also sell at a few local craft fairs and family farm day events.
Steve has also been a dealer for Dekalb/Asgrow Seed Company for 20 years. “There’s not a lot of dealers around. A lot of people don’t know we have one here.” Steve said the company is always looking for salesmen and anyone interested should contact him at 518-568-2643.
“Being diversified helps us to keep as steady a flow of income as possible,” remarked Steve. “When one thing is down, the other is up. When there is no income from one source, we have income from another source, that keeps the income coming in at a steady level.”
Damin Farm also grow crops of hay, soybeans and corn on 640 acres. The farm store is located in Montgomery County, 3 miles west of St. Johnsville, NY right on Route 5.