The first time I met Dan and Kimmy Rivera was at a farmer's market during summer in Saranac Lake. I was working at another booth and in desperate need of some lunch. For the last two hours, I had been staring and salivating at their beautiful display case full of bread, which was positioned directly in front of me. I finally relented and introduced myself to the couple and ordered a golden baguette. I bought some mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil from another vendor to complete my lunch. I took my bounty back to my booth and assembled the freshest caprese sandwich I could have possibly gotten my hands on. And boy was it good! It was so good, I marched back over and bought a few more loaves of bread to take home with me. After that first experience, I knew I wanted to get to know this couple better.
Meet Dan and Kimmy Rivera
Dan and Kimmy Rivera are a rad power couple with an even cooler story. The couple is known for making wild-fermented artisan bread, gourmet crackers, and sourdough pizza dough. But this is a drastic oversimplification of what the couple and their farm, Triple Green Jade Farm, are all about. The couple always had an aspiration to be more self-sufficient and baking bread was at the forefront of that journey. On an average day at their home in Hudson, NY, they tried baking an overnight fermented round loaf in a cast iron pot from a recipe they found in Mother Earth News Magazine. They didn't know it then, but that moment would serve as the catalyst to what would be a life-changing career. Dan and Kimmy were astonished by how good their home-baked loaf turned out, which planted the seed for their desire to learn more about baking bread and becoming more self-sufficient.
The next step in the couple's evolution was a 4-year journey to Stavanger, Norway, where Dan was able to relocate for work. Dan was working for a medical company called Laerdal Medical, which pioneered CPR in the 1960s. You might be familiar with the company if you have ever taken a CPR class and did scenario-based training with a manikin named Anne. Working and living in Norway meant the couple could enjoy the European/Scandanavian standard of a 5-week vacation every year, so they were able to do lots of traveling. During their vacation, Dan and Kimmy found a week-long intensive course at the Artisan Bread School in Italy. Funny enough, their instructor Carl Shavitz, is now teaching bread classes at their own farm. The bread course was one of many formative experiences the couple had abroad. Beyond baking, the couple also wanted to spend some time on farms, to solidify if they actually wanted a homestead of their own. They found a farm through Workaway in Brittany, France, where they worked for about a week. In exchange, they got free room and board and learned a lot about farm life. They loved the experience so much, they took advantage of another farming opportunity with a friend in Copenhagen, Denmark, where they spent some time working with Icelandic sheep. Dan said, “During our time on farms, we learned that in order to have amazing food, you have to be close to where it’s produced, you have to make it yourself, or you have to be involved in the process of food production in some way.”
After 4 years abroad, Dan and Kimmy returned stateside, more inspired than ever to start their own farm. While the couple searched for land of their own, they continued to seek out learning opportunities like a 2-day Kneading Conference held by the Maine Grain Alliance. Dan took a production workshop, which gave him the experience of a day in the life of a baker. The instructor was highly acclaimed and the Head Baker from Bread Alone Bakery, which funny enough, is a place I am extremely familiar with. My in-laws have taken me to the Rhinebeck location a number of times and my father-in-law also happens to be kind of a "bread head." While Dan was taking a class, Kim took a cracker class, met other bakers, and attended a Q&A session about how to start a bakery. At yet another workshop, Dan learned how to build a wood-fired oven in Rockport, Maine. He brought those skills home and the couple built an oven of their own, which is what they currently use to bake all their bread. The 5'x7' hearth can bake between 32-36 loaves at a time, depending on how big the loaves are. I can only imagine how fantastic the place smells on a Friday, which is the couple's big bake day.
More than just a farm
One of the cool things about Triple Green Jade Farm, among many other things, is the fact that bread is literally bringing an old dairy farm back to life. Before the Riveras bought the land in 2014, the farm hadn't been used since the 1980's. Profits from the breadery help fund the renovations on the farm, so everything is reinvested back into the land. Dan and Kimmy are truly committed to improving the ecology of the farm and the health of their soils. But all good things take time and the Riveras feel privileged to serve their community.
Triple Green Jade Farm is made up of 80 acres of beautiful south-facing pastures with riverfront along the Boquet River. The generous couple wanted to share their land with others, so they worked with the Champlain Area Trails, or CATS, to build a trail on their property. In exchange for public access, the CATS organization maintains the trail by mowing it in the summer and plowing some sections in the winter. This partnership helps link communities, connects people with nature, and promotes economic vitality.
I had the chance to walk the 1.2-mile Riverside Trail after our interview and what a joy it was to experience. The trail began amidst the pastoral beauty of the farm, which quickly turned into a woodland habitat. For such a short trail, I was struck by all the diversity, both in habitat and wildlife. Birds zig-zagged across the trail and filled the air with their lovely songs. It was a whimsical moment, which is the best kind of moment in my opinion, because they happen when you least expect it. Though, I should have known better because the Adirondack Coast offers great opportunities for bird watching. So much so, the Adirondack Coast has consistently been ranked by Audubon Magazine as one of the top six destinations for bird watching in the U.S. So if you are into birding, be sure to put the Riverside Trail at Triple Green Jade Farm on your list. If birds aren't your thing, there are plenty of other discoveries to make, like the clusters of bamboo growing along the Boquet River.
Looking toward the future
While volunteer farming (WWOOFing) in Brittany, France, an area with Celtic and pre-Celtic roots, the couple came across the triskele, or triple spiral. The triskele represents perpetual motion and progress. The inward spirals depict the journey for deeper knowledge and understanding. The triskele perfectly represented Dan and Kimmy's mindset, so it made sense when they decided to use the symbol for the Triple Green Jade Farm logo. To put it another way, the triskele is all about evolution. After learning the couple's story, I have no doubt that this will continue to be the case. Evolving and adapting is how the couple came to purchase the farm in the first place. Their journey started with baking bread at home, which inspired them to take multiple bread workshops, and then a variety of farm experiences in France and Denmark. Now, they have their own farm, breadery, and nature trail.
When I asked them about their ideas for the future, they shared some exciting ideas. For one, they'd love to put a couple of picnic tables near the river on the Riverside Trail, so people can stay and enjoy the view. Another idea they have that is a covered pavilion, which is already in the works. They were laying the concrete foundation on the day I visited. The couple is hoping the pavilion will be available to use next summer. Dan and Kimmy also envision having lots of wood-fired pizza parties with live music. A lot of walkers already come by to take advantage of the Riverside Trail on their property. Kimmy said excitedly, "How nice would it be to be able to start or finish your walk with a wood-fired pizza underneath a cozy pavilion?" I couldn't agree more. I'll be ready to sign up once everything is finished. Dan and Kimmy didn't stop there either. Dan said, "In the future, we'd like to grow and harvest our own whole-grain flour, produce mozzarella cheese from our own cows, and use farm-to-table toppings that we can bake to perfection in our wood-fired oven. That's the dream." With the couple's growth mindset and passion, I have no doubt they will follow through. In the meantime, signup for Triple Green Jade Farm's newsletter for updates or sign up for one of the many events the farm currently offers.
Now, go get some bread
To get a hold of their bread this winter, you can pre-order online and do curbside pick-up at the farm in Willsboro on Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Alternatively, you can go to the farmer’s market on Saturday in Saranac Lake, which is indoors during the winter, at the Hotel Saranac from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. (excluding holidays). The outdoor pre-order and pick-up "Park-It" is also at the same location, on Saturdays, from 10-12. The farm also sells their products at Hub on the Hill in Essex and Nori’s in Saranac Lake.