Exploring the Hudson Valley’s Farms and Freshest Food Sources

A word from Hudson Valley Editor in Chief, Olivia J. Abel

When I was six years old, my family spent a week on a working farm somewhere in Pennsylvania. While the first thing that we always commented on when looking at photos of this trip was my ridiculous bowl haircut (thanks Mom), we all looked back fondly on that vacation.

At this point, I can only remember the highlights. I know that we got up early each morning to the rooster’s crowing and tumbled out of bed in eager anticipation of collecting the eggs. I recall creeping into the barn and gingerly approaching a sitting chicken. With a little encouragement from a farm hand, I gently pushed the hen aside and plucked her egg from the hay. After gathering a few, I’d put them in a little bucket and march them straight into the farm kitchen, where they were soon incorporated into a hearty breakfast. I loved that everyone on the farm ate all meals together at what seemed, from a child’s vantage point, like an impossibly long table. And I burst with pride the night that it was my turn to ring the giant brass bell that signaled it was time to eat; its clanging could be heard on every corner of the farm.

That week, we also swam in the pond a lot, played with the seemingly endless array of cats, and spent a fair amount of time watching the cows. We’d watch as they got hooked up to their milking machines and as they filtered out of the barn into the meadow for what we called their “afternoon recess.” One day, my sister asked, “Why does that one have a ring in its nose?” We learned he was not a cow, but a bull — the lone male among them. While we didn’t understand all the repercussions of this, it did spark a daily game of who could spot the bull in the meadow first.

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Nowadays, more and more people are staying on farms. But more importantly, an increasing number of people are concerned with where their food comes from and how it is produced. Our Homegrown cover story (which begins here) digs into the whole phenomena of farmers markets, organic food, the new young farmers on the scene, and farm-to-table dining.

One subject of our coverage is Hudson Valley Fresh, a partnership between nine local dairy farms. The group recently got a local school district to start serving its milk to the students; the president of Hudson Valley Fresh says the kids loved it and drank more milk “than they ever did before.”

We decided to test it out in the office. Assistant Editor Rosemary O. Fernandez (above) says that she’s been buying HV Fresh since she got married earlier this year and “suddenly had to buy my own food. I wanted to buy local, and I thought it tasted a lot creamier, a lot nicer.” (This is a girl who knows her milk; she drinks it all day, every day, and admits that friends call her “the dairy queen.”) Marketing Director Shanna Kangas said simply, “It tastes like ice cream.”  Me? I only use milk in my coffee, but it sure tasted delicious — and fresh — to me.

Enjoy the issue.

Olivia J. Abel
Editor In Chief

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