The Work We Do: Matt Schmitt, Holy Schmitt’s Horseradish

My name is Matt Schmitt from Philip A. Schmitt & Son Farm in Riverhead.

We’re here making horseradish. I have Holy Schmitt’s Horseradish, which I started in 2010.

We grow the horseradish and we also prepare and sell it in eight-ounce jars at our farm stand and farmers markets, and then we also do a little bit of wholesaling.

I’ve always been working here. I’m the fourth generation. I’ve been working summers full-time since forever. I grew up working here. So, after college is when I became permanent full time, so about 12 years ago.

We always grew horseradish and sold the roots, and then we made some to give away to family and friends.

We used to make it in a barn, on the back of a trailer with my grandfather. Every year, more and more people kept coming and bringing more jars, and it got to be where we were making horseradish for like a week just to give it away.

So I said, “Why don’t we try to put it on the farm stand?” And he said, “Well if you want to, we can try it. It’s up to you.” And that’s kind of how it started. And it’s something that my family has always done. We’ve always grown the horseradish. It’s something to add a little value to the farm and, hopefully, helps keeps the farms going. Farming is tough out here.

The horseradish harvest we do usually happens in the end of February, throughout March. Sometimes in the beginning of April. It’s pretty tough to make because when you grind it, it gets in your eyes and your nose. But it’s worth it. 

We come in, we hand peel all the horseradish, we grate it, add some vinegar, a little bit of sugar, salt. Then we put it in a jar.

“The Work We Do” is a Riverhead News-Review multimedia project profiling workers around Riverhead Town. It is made possible by Peconic Landing in Greenport. See more photos on Instagram @riverheadnewsreview