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OUT OF TOWN

Day Trip: Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture

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Even the most ardent city-dwellers can sometimes hunger for a bit of a breather somewhere else: to feel grass underfoot, see trees on the horizon, and hear the persistent buzzing that fills the heavy stillness of a hot summer day. For me the perfect escape is Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, a working farm and nonprofit educational center located less than an hour north of New York. Time spent exploring the buildings, pastures, and greenhouses, all set among 80 acres of gently rolling farmland, makes for a lovely and relaxing day.

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This past weekend we made the drive up and were so glad we did. The setting could not be more beautiful, with graceful stone farm buildings from the 1930s folded into the pastoral landscape. Donated by the Rockefeller family, the land and buildings provide a home for the Center – a collaborative experiment in farmland preservation and agricultural education with a stated mission to, “create a healthy and sustainable food system.” This mission is manifest in a number of different ways, including farming summits and programs to train young farmers at the beginning of their careers. In addition, a special focus is placed on children and helping to shape the next generation of conservationists, land stewards, and informed consumers. Weekend programming exposes children and adults to different areas of the farm operation, and you’re free to partake in as many of the day’s scheduled events as you’d like.

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A highlight of our visit this past weekend was egg collecting, where after a brief lesson on chickens, children walked into the darkened hen house with baskets in hand and instructions to gently retrieve three eggs each. Two days later my daughter continues to recount this adventure – clear evidence of the mark it made on her! We also walked through the pastures, visiting the sheep and cows before taking a break for lunch, which we purchased from the on-site café. We carried our spread – prepared from ingredients grown and raised on the farm – to a little wooded sitting area behind the barns and had the fun surprise of happening upon a pen of baby goats.

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In addition to regular weekend programming, special family-friendly events are held throughout the year, including a sheep shearing festival to celebrate spring and a Harvest Fest to help usher in the fall season. We’ve attended the Harvest Fest in the past but haven’t yet made it to the sheep shearing festival. Maybe next spring!

A few notes:

  • Weekend admission is by ticket only in the spring, summer, and fall. Tickets are available here.
  • We drive to the farm when we visit, but you can also take the Metro North train to the Tarrytown station and take a taxi from there to the farm.
  • The Center’s onsite restaurant partner operates both the café and an award-winning restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns. As at the café, much of the food at the restaurant is sourced from the farm itself, and the combination of food and setting, inside one of the stone farm buildings, makes for a special and memorable meal. The restaurant is not appropriate for small children owing to the length of the tasting menus, and reservations must be made in advance.
  • An onsite shop sells everything from eggs, produce, and flowers from the farm to books, kitchen goods, and children’s items.

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