Day trips: Farm and food destinations
Get a close-up look at the earth's bounty.
Tue May 10 2011
Hawthorne Valley Farm; Ghent, NY
Travel time: Two and a half hours by car
On the first and third Wednesday of each month, this 400-acre biodynamic operation welcomes cityslickers for a gratis public tour. You'll peep its various departments, including the animal pens and sauerkraut cellar, but if you want to gain a deeper appreciation the agricultural bounty, schedule a day on the farm and get interactive: Among the down-and-not-too-dirty tasks open to visitor participation are making cheese, harvesting vegetables and feeding small animals. Each project is $50, but the fee covers up to four people, so grab a few friends who'll whistle the Green Acres theme song with you while milking Bessie. And to reward yourself for a hard day's work, finish with a tasting ($15) or lunch ($25) crafted from seasonal and local products. (518-672-7500, hawthornevalleyfarm.org). Reservations required; two weeks' notice encouraged.
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture; Pocantico Hills, NY
Travel time: 45 minutes from NYC by car
Partnered with Dan, David and Lauren Barber's award-winning Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant, this sustainable four-season farm is a mecca for New York locavores. Depending on your interests and timing, you can participate in one of several excursions: The guided, 90-minute Insider's Tour (Fri, Sat 11am; adults $15, ages 12–14 $9) offers the most complete glimpse into the estate, covering everything from the livestock to the planting fields. For a more focused approached, indulge your curiosity on either the Garden Tour (Sat, Sun 2pm; adults $10, ages 2–14 $7)—covering herbs, flowers, fruits and veggies—or the Livestock Tour (Sat, Sun noon; adults $10, ages 2--14 $7), which educates nose-to-tail eaters about the property's various animal breeds and how they're raised. If you want to geek out even further, join one of the hands-on activities, such as gardening (Sat, Sun 1pm; $7) or egg collecting (Sat, Sun 10am; $7). If you've thought way ahead and made a reservation, you can stop at Barber's farm-to-table eatery on your way back to the city to reflect on your newfound knowledge as you savor a three-course bar menu ($58) made with ingredients cultivated just up the road. (914-366-6200, stonebarnscenter.org). Wed–Sun 10am–5pm. Advance registration recommended for guided tours and activities.
Widow's Hole Oyster Company; Greenport, L.I.
Travel time: About two hours from NYC by car and three hours from NYC by train
In the historic North Fork fishing village of Greenport, Wall Street programmer turned bayman Mike Osinski grows and harvests some of the city's most sought-after shellfish. You can join him on the picturesque peninsula to see how his company's oysters are grown (in cages and bags buoyed within 500 feet of the shoreline), matured (in floating upweller systems) and harvested. You'll also gain insight into how the mature Crassostrea virginica specimens are sorted and graded before being sold to the Lobster Place in Chelsea Market and upscale restaurants such as Le Bernardin. (631-477-3442, widowsholeoysters.com). Tours Mon–Wed, Fri–Sun 10am–4pm; free. Reservations required.
Valley Shepherd Creamery; Long Valley, NJ
Travel time: About one hour from NYC by car
Anyone who's trolled the Union Square Greenmarket has likely stumbled onto this dairy's extensive selection. The family-run farm tends to 600 Friesian sheep throughout the year, cultivating them for primarily for milk, as well as side products like wool, lamb meat and European-style cheese. From April through November, you'll be able to watch employees milk the flock and create the handcrafted curds—and if you're lucky, you'll also see some newborn lambs. Tourgoers are treated to a few samples, but no doubt you'll want more, so bring a picnic, then purchase some extra chunks of cheesy goodness—we're partial to the grassy Nettlesome and the pungent Califon Tomme—at the on-site shop and enjoy your lunch on the farm's porch. (908-876-3200, valleyshepherd.com). Tours Sat, Sun 1, 4pm. $8.75.