Cheryl Rogowski, 61, who owns a 10-acre farm in Orange County, is known at the Cold Spring Farmers’ Market as “the scone lady.” In 2014 she received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” for her work “reinventing the family farm in America.”
How did you decide to focus on scones?
People really enjoy them. They’re not your average scones. There’s blueberry and feta. But I also make a sweet-corn scone and a tomatillos scone. I love to play and bring things together. I did a squash-blossom scone when squash blossoms were in season. Later on, when parsnips are in, I’ll put parsnips in there. I’ll do apple and maple syrup and sweet potato bacon.
What makes a great scone?
It has to be tender. It has to have a good crumb and crispy edges. And you can’t skimp on the filling. If you’re making a chocolate chip scone, you want to see those chocolate chips. For my feta scone, my girls that help me will tell me: “It needs more feta!” You need to see the crispy edges of the feta.
Tell me about Tony’s Scone.
Tony [another vendor] said, “I want you to create a memory for me. It has to have raisins and walnuts. And it has to be salty.” I thought light and dark raisins would give it the sweet. We put in the walnuts and we put Maldon Sea Salt on top. I put a little cinnamon on the inside. It’s evocative of his childhood in Spain. It’s one of our more popular scones.
You grow broccoli, squash, onions, potatoes, garlic and many other crops. How has your farm been affected by the weather this summer?
It was challenging. We reached a point where we couldn’t do any more harvesting because of the lack of irrigation. It was a poor year for tomatoes. I’ve had customers for years who would buy bushels of tomatoes and can them for the winter. Not this year. There was a shortage of cucumbers. But with the rain we’ve had lately, our farm stand is starting to explode again. The kale, chard and spinach are gorgeous. The corn was stunning this year.
What lies ahead?
I would like to add an educational component where people can work with me in greenhouses and tunnels. People romanticize farming, but there is the hard reality of hard work. This summer, for instance, we started in March with too much rain and couldn’t get into the fields. Then we had no rain and things were dying. But that’s part of the deal when you’re a farmer.