My Visit to Hudson Valley’s Farm at Stone Barns

August 9, 2013 by

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Though I have been there several times, it’s a new experience each time I visit Stone Barns, a year-round working farm, living classroom, and laboratory set on a six acre parcel of the former Rockefeller estate, 80 acres in Pocantico Hills in New York’s lush Hudson Valley.

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The farm belongs to the The Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture, a non-profit dedicated to the the promotion of sustainable agriculturelocal food, and community-supported agriculture.

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In the fields and in a 22,000-sq. ft. heated greenhouse, farmers grow about 200 varieties of produce, and cultivate new seeds and heirloom vegetables, adhering to a strict six-year rotation schedule that works in harmony with nature.

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Just imagine the scent of lavender and garlic hanging from the rafters in the drying shed…

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Throughout the year the Center offers classes and workshops for cooks and gardeners of all ages, and in the summer operates a farm camp for kids from first through eighth grades. Over 400 junior farmers participate in the farm’s daily activities by collecting eggs, harvesting veggies, and moving sheep but learn from hands-on culinary and other activities that connect them to food, farming, and nature.

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Within easy proximity to New York City, Stone Barns makes a wonderful day trip. When I visited with my children several years ago, they particularly loved observing the pigs (though I was careful not to mention that the well-fed swine would later become someone’s dinner.)

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On my recent tour, the chickens literally “flew the coop” and crossed the road to get to the other side, a jail-break they facilitated by doing a limbo-like squeeze under the fence.

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The gardens alone are worth a visit. Head gardener Laura Perkins, below, told me she puts in long days but feels fortunate having a job that lets her do something she loves.

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Take a self-guided journey from fields, greenhouse and pasture, to plate by signing up for either a self-guided “Farm to Frittata” or livestock tour.

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If your feeling flush and arrive without children, consider dinner or Sunday Brunch at the famed Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The restaurant shares the Stone Barns property so proprietors DanDavid and Laureen Barber source much of their food from the adjacent fields and pasture, as well as from other local Hudson Valley farms.

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For a more active experience, hike on one of the several beautiful trails in and around the property which connect to the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, then make a stop at the café for some light fare which you can enjoy in the Stone Barns courtyard.

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If you go on Sunday between10 am–4 pm, plan to visit the farm market to bring home farm-fresh Stone Barns produce, meat and eggs, as well as baked goods from Red Barn Bakery and dairy products from The Real Live Amazing Food Co.

All photos: Robin Plaskoff Horton for Urban Gardens.

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