The FLX FAQs: Erica Frenay of Shelterbelt Farm


A semi-regular column in which we nose our way into the minds and kitchens of Finger Lakes foodies.


Erica Frenay and Craig Modisher, owners of Shelterbelt Farm in Caroline

Started as a homestead in 2005, Shelterbelt Farm officially became an operational farm in 2010. Owners Erica Frenay and Craig Modisher believe in regenerating the health of themselves, their customers, and their land by managing their animals in a way that builds soil and plant diversity, provides a low-stress, happy life for their animals, and produces nourishing pasture-raised meats. Their products include individual cuts of pork, broiler chickens, 100% grass-fed lambs, raw honey and our favorite: Praise the Lard balm. In addition to the farm, Craig runs Ironwood Builders with his business partners and Erica works at the Cornell Small Farms Program as the co-manager of the Beginning Farmer Project.

Edible Finger Lakes: What is the most interesting thing you always keep in your fridge?

Erica Frenay: Stinky shrimp paste. I don’t think that’s the technical name, but that’s what we call it. It’s totally not local! We only ever use it when we make gado gado sauce, and it gives just the perfect salty depth of flavor to it.

EFL: What’s the last meal you cooked for yourself?

EF: I made up a Moroccan stew using our grassfed lamb made into meatballs with dried cherries, pureed tomatoes I froze from the garden last Summer, and sweet potatoes. It’s spiced with cinnamon, allspice, and cumin, and of course lots of garlic and onion. I’m always a little surprised when something I throw together without any recipe comes out so tasty!

EFL: What’s the one kitchen tool you couldn’t leave without?

EF: Aw, I have to choose one? But, there’s my garlic press, which I use multiple times a day. And my grater, my favorite chopping knife, my stick blender, my Vita Mix… OK, I’ll go with the Vita Mix. That one is totally indispensable.

EFL: What was the first Finger Lakes wine/beer/spirit you ever tasted? What was the first finger lakes made product you remember having?

EF:  Bellwether Hard Cider, the Black Magic one. It cast its spell on me! Maryrose Livingston’s fabulous Tomme sheep cheese from Northland Sheep Dairy is the first locally made food I can remember tasting. She is a master cheesemaker and one of the most wonderful people I know.

EFL: If you could add one item to the Finger Lakes foodshed that isn’t already there, what would it be?

EF: I wish we had more Finger Lakes fish! It feels a little strange to live in such a water-rich region but not eat anything from those bodies of water. I completely respect fishing limits based on ecological monitoring. I’m just saying if I could have one more product locally available, I think local seafood would be pretty exciting… if it can’t be wild-caught, maybe we just need more local aquaponics operations, like Main Street Farms in Homer!

EFL: What does it mean to you to be a part of the Finger Lakes foodshed?

EF: It means we consider ourselves incredibly lucky, because we get to both grow food for the residents of this richly abundant corner of the world, and also enjoy the bounty of all the other farmers and food artisans who call this place home.

Shelterbelt Farm, 607-342-3771,
For more FLX FAQs, read our chat with Peter Browning of Viva Taqueria

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