For years I have been wanting to visit Sleepy Hollow, New York around Halloween. When I started planning the trip I found so many other awesome things to do and see in that part of the Hudson River Valley. I was thrilled to discover that the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture was just 5 minutes away from Sleepy Hollow, I had read so many wonderful things about it.
The Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is how the Rockefellers do farming. It is a gorgeous working farm and sustainable agriculture education center located only 25 miles from Manhattan. And from the hip young families strolling the grounds to the beautifully-designed interactive app and impeccably curated gift shop – the city’s (positive) influence is clear.
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture was originally part of an estate owned by the wealthy Rockefeller family before it became a nonprofit center open to the public in 2004, with a mission to improve the way America eats and farms.
Besides walking around the incredibly gorgeous landscape, the Center offers so many wonderful ways to experience the property. The aforementioned app includes self-guided tours and you can also book a special behind-the-scenes or family-friendly tour. Their calendar includes several other enticing events such as a weekly farmer’s market, an innovative art installation (bells triggered by bees!), Harvest Fest, and wonderful workshops including one for learning how to make seasonal, botanically-inspired cocktails.
We only had about two hours to visit so we chose to walk a large loop around the property and see all of the animals and crop being raised on the farm. The livestock and birds are rotated frequently throughout the farm’s pastures to reduce grazing pressure and enhance the organic matter in the soil.
After passing through the main vegetable field we came upon a gorgeous stone terrace and an enclosed courtyard garden. I peered in the windows of the building and saw a large, beautiful room with cozy banquettes and bundles of dried herbs hanging from the vaulted ceiling. I later learned it was the Blue Hill restaurant, famous for serving award-winning farm to table cuisine. But if your budget is more like mine, there is also the Blue Hill Cafe for a delicious farm fresh lunch.
As I was trying to find out more about the Blue Hill restaurant, I came across this recent New York Times review of its outpost in Greenwich Village,
Halfway through dinner at Blue Hill, my server presented me with two squashes. One was the common football-size butternut that weighs down shopping bags at this time of year. The other had the same shape but was about as big as a sparrow. I held it in my palm. It felt good in there. Without thinking about what I was doing, I began petting it. The couple at the next table asked if they could see my tiny squash, and I let them stroke its smooth, cool skin. Before things got too weird, our server took my pet squash back to the kitchen.
So random (and hilarious) but I think this moment perfectly illustrates the vibe of Stone Barns . . . unabashed joy at the bounty of our farms and ample inspiration to teach us how to better appreciate and protect them.