Trick or treat — Hudson Valley harvest is sure to please

Posted: Sunday, October 25, 2015 12:30 am
By Tessa Edick
For Columbia-Greene Media

 

Holy cow it’s harvest time! At the heart of the Hudson Valley in our rich agricultural region, October is buzzing with places to go, farmers to meet and unforgettable things to do with leaf peeping and harvest festivals all month long.

 

Celebration is indeed in order for our farmers who work hard to feed us so well all year long. Ample food and freedom from the necessity to work in the fields are reason enough for the merriment, nevermind the delicious goodness ripe for conserving, canning and cooking.

 

The simple choices we make buying food in fact make a difference — a big difference — if every day we all demand healthy nutritious food from the farm. Many of the local family farms offer specialty markets, eateries and CSA programs (think seed money) to facilitate your consumption.

 

So, this weekend, when you are savoring the Hudson Valley landscape, stop by a local farm and ask your farmer about the food he makes and what’s available today through Thanksgiving. It’s a great value, a super day out and your body will thank you too.

 

“Harvest is from the Old English word hærfest, meaning ‘autumn,’ which came to refer to the season for reaping and gathering grain and other crops. The full moon nearest the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon. So, in ancient traditions harvest festivals were traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon. Early English settlers took the idea of harvest thanksgiving to North America. The most famous one is the harvest Thanksgiving held by the Pilgrims in 1621.” (source: Wikipedia)

 

“It used to be that the school kids would have two weeks off to help during the harvest, so the community came together and celebrated the end of the growing season,” Bob Fix of Fix Brothers Fruit Farm (fixbrosfruitfarm.com) shared with me as he winds down pick-your-own apple season as a fourth generation farmer at his family farm in Hudson.

 

Imagine the impact that had on children’s food choices, knowing where their food came from by experience and duty to pitch in and help — community at its best. Stop by family farms this weekend to shop at the farm store for pumpkin picking, delicious unique apple varieties and the best fresh cider you have ever tasted. Or order your farm fresh heritage organic turkey from local farms; some will deliver and cook it for you like McEnroe Organic Farm in Millerton.

 

Over Columbus Day weekend at the Hawthorne Valley Farm (hawthornevalleyfarm.org), the Fall Festival reminded us all to meet your farmer with cider pressing, farm tours, a cow parade and creamery tastings. How lucky we are to have so many great educational programs offered at this biodynamic organic farm down the road in Ghent. Stop in and get the whole family involved at this farm and market.

 

Last weekend, the fun continued at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds with the Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck (sheepandwool.com), with local vendors for shopping, kids activities, agricultural products and more. Stop by Spruce Ridge Farm (spruceridgefarm.com) in Old Chatham to stock up on wool for knitting and gorgeous locally made socks, sweaters and gloves.

 

At McEnroe Organic Farm (mcenroeorganicfarm.com), the Discovery Garden is free on Family Farm Days. Drop in for nature crafts and garden activities for all ages, with tours at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m., or take a 45-minute farm tour and learn the history of the McEnroe Family Farm and its agricultural philosophy and practices, shop the specialty market (and order your holiday heritage bird) and stay for a farm fresh lunch.

 

Most farmers markets stay open through mid-November, so check out nearby markets at www.vintagehudsonvalley.com/planner-farmers-markets.shtml or stop by the Taste NY market at Todd Hill along the Taconic State Parkway for their weekly market on Friday and Sundays supporting regional family farm fresh food.

 

Halloween this year is all about the harvest. Get your FarmOn! at Empire Farm, as we welcome the community to attend with family and friends to grab a bite to eat before you trick or treat and celebrate the family farm. Featuring farm fresh grill, kids activities, local market, Hudson Valley Fresh Dairy tasting and all things apple, stop by the farm, 556 Empire Road in Copake, between noon and 5 p.m. on Oct. 31 to indulge. A “Farm Candy” crunch will take place at 4 p.m. and costume contest for kids ages 12 and under will follow. Visit FarmOnFoundation.org for more information and tickets.

 

Until the 20th century most farmers celebrated the end of the harvest with a harvest supper — a big meal held to thank those for land stewardship to cultivate, plant, grow and harvest honest food. In some regions the farmers believed that a spirit resided in the last sheaf of grain to be harvested. Even earlier there were ceremonies, superstitions and rituals at the end of harvest — sweeping scythes back and forth to cut grain and farms in a race to not be the last to finish the harvest, shouting when they were, which was likely the precursor to what we know today as Halloween.

 

This was all part of a natural sustainable cycle to feed people honestly. Harvest also meant saving and storing of seeds for planting the following spring — a tradition that we need to revitalize.

 

So skip the supermarket this harvest season and on a crisp sunny fall day, make Hudson Valley farms your weekend destination for good food. This year, the foliage is mesmerizing; your kids will adore frolicking in the fields, you will leave knowing why farmers do what they do — and fall in love too. Food is love. FarmOn!

 

To contact Tessa Edick, email tessa@farmonfoundation.org or follow her on Twitter @FarmOnFarmOn.

 

For your information

 

Meet your farmer and shop for fresh food from small local farms:
McEnroe Organic Farm Store, Millerton
Herondale Farm Store, Ancramdale
The Farm Store at Willow Brook Farms, Millerton
Fix Brothers Fruit Farm, Hudson
Sir William Farm Store, Craryville
Migliorelli Farm, Rhinebeck
Pigasso Farms, Copake
Hill-Over Healthy & Fresh, Copake
Coon Brothers Farm, Amenia
Ronnybrook Farm, Chelsea Market, New York City
Samascott Orchards, Kinderhook
Field-Goods.com (online local delivery service)
Hudson Valley Fresh Dairy (dairy case in local markets)
Cabot & McCadam Cheese (dairy case in local markets)

 

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