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SAVOR THE SEASON: Couple brings old farm back to life, one loaf at a time

Triple Green Jade Farm owner leaves corporate life to bake artisan bread in Willsboro

June 22, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer (gkelly@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

WILLSBORO - Dan Rivera recently traded a computer byte for a bite of bread.

He used to work in online marketing and web design for Laederal Medical, which is the company that pioneered CPR research in the 1960s with the training mannequin Resusci Anne. The job was secure. It paid well. It offered good benefits, and he got to spend plenty of time vacationing around Europe because Laederal is headquartered in Stavanger, Norway. He could have stayed there until he retired.

Yet everything in life seemed all laid out and concrete, and he couldn't imagine any more challenges.

Article Photos

Kim and Dan Rivera of Triple Green Jade Farm in Willsboro offer up a selection of artisan breads and crackers at the Big Green Shindig in Lake Placid in May.
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

So he quit, bought an old farm in upstate New York and became a baker.

Since January 2017, Rivera and his wife Kimmy have operated Triple Green Jade Farm in Willsboro, where they make artisan breads and crackers. They built a wood-fired oven in their garage and call it The Breadery.

Sales from the bread enable them to fund the continued renovations on their barn and 80-acre farm that hasn't seen use since it was an operating as a dairy in the 1980s. The farm includes 45 acres of pasture, which Rivera hopes to put livestock on in the future: Jersey cows and Icelandic sheep. The farm is on the Boquet River.

Rivera admits that it's corny, but he likes to quote a former U.S. president when referring to his professional transition.

"It's like Abraham Lincoln says, 'The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.'"

While working in the New York office of Laederal, Rivera and his wife lived in Hudson, where they owned an acre of land and tended to 25 chickens. Rivera started collecting the eggs and selling them to friends, family and co-workers.

"People were loving it," he said, "and that's what really put the bug in us. I always had the idea of living a corporate lifestyle and then transition into something else."

While working in Norway, the two would often spend their vacations working on farms around Europe and attending baking classes under the tutelage of the renowned baker and founder of the Artisan Bread School Carl Shavitz.

"We did a five-day intensive class with Carl in Italy," Rivera said. "There was a lot of repetition on certain techniques. There were no mixers, and we had to do everything by hand, which made for a very tactile experience. We also took another class with him in Kentucky, and we're hoping that he'll come to Triple Green Jade one day to instruct a course."

Whereas the job with Laederal offered some luxury, Rivera said running a bakery is a bit different.

"I sometimes lament the choice because the job was so easy," he said. "Now, there are no sick days and no vacation time. It's a big change, but the sacrifices are definitely worth it. I'm my own boss, which is another goal I had. I answer to only the customers."

With the switch from office to farm also came a decrease in salary.

"The money isn't great necessarily," he said, "but it's enough. I feel we're providing a much-needed service in a small town."

Triple Green Jade offers of variety of artisan breads such as sunflower, brioche and cranberry-almond. The breads don't look like something you would find at a name-brand grocery store. They're hearty with earthy brown exteriors and thick crusts. They produce a crunch when squeezed.

As far as ingredients go, Rivera said his breads aren't too different from most.

"All bread basically has four components: water, flour, salt and yeast," he said.

However, Triple Green Jade has something big grocery stores do not.

"Time," Rivera said. "The Price Choppers and Walmarts of the world don't have that luxury. We obviously have a schedule that we stick to, but we build in the time to let the dough ferment. Sometimes it can take up to three days to make a good loaf of sourdough. It doesn't mean that we're constantly touching the bread or working with it, but time develops flavor and allows for predigestion of gluten."

Rivera said when people think of bakers, they tend to imagine a person waking up at 1 a.m. and baking for six hours until the shop opens at 9. He and Kim do things differently. They actually start cooking in the afternoon and sometimes don't get done until midnight or later.

The breads source all organic ingredients, many of which are local. The flour comes from Champlain Valley Milling in Willsboro, and Fledging Crow Vegetables in Keeseville and Juniper Hill Farms in Wadhams provide ingredients such as basil, onions, garlic, dill and cheese.

Along with running his own bakery, Rivera is also the Essex County representative for Adirondack Harvest, a consortium of North Country agriculturalists that are dedicated to increasing "opportunities for profitable, sustainable production and sale of high-quality food and agricultural products, and to expand consumer choices for locally produced healthy food."

Rivera said being able to have partnerships with other local farms has been a good experience.

"It's amazing," he said. "We came back to the States in 2013 looking for land, and we just wanted to learn all about farmers markets. Everyone has your back, and there is very little drama and competition."

While the North Country has an assortment local food providers, Rivera said there's definitely more room to expand.

"This area has a lot of untapped potential," he said. "It could become a larger place for farmers, distillers, brewers and agriculturists. A few years ago, the thought was that organic food is just for the rich folks. Sure, it costs more, but I'm seeing that everyone wants to buy from a farm and enjoy the harvest."

 
 

 

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