Farm Fresh Ulster County: A Taft Street Guide to Getting the Freshest Local Produce
by Dylan Taft
on Friday, August 19th, 2016 at 12:58pm.
The Hudson Valley is known for its abundance of fertile farmland and contains lots of great farms, orchards, vineyards and therefore, inevitably, wonderful, fresh produce. Many high end culinary establishments in New York City looking for the freshest produce (be it fruits, veggies or cuts of meat) to build their menus upon will source ingredients from right here in Ulster County and the rest of the Hudson Valley alike. That being said, you don’t need to be a restaurateur to score some of the area’s best and freshest produce, meats, eggs, ciders, ales and wines. Much of the best of the Hudson Valley stays right here in the heart of the community for local consumption and while some of these products are probably offered at your local supermarket, the best way to attain them is to go straight to the source- to the farm itself!
While there are plenty of local supermarkets to shop at, many Ulster County residents choose to source their food from more sustainable avenues, especially those that also support the farms in the heart of their community and here in Ulster, it’s entirely possible to get all your weekly groceries without stepping foot in a traditional supermarket. Between the farm stands, farmer’s markets, CSA programs, and food co-ops, there’s always a spot to grab your locally grown favorites.
Farm stands and farmers markets are a main highlight of summer and fall in Ulster County and our surrounding communities. Locals get excited when their favorite farm stand opens for the season, offering their most adored seasonal delicacies, and in the fall visitors will pour in from all over the state and surrounding areas, sometime by the bus-full, to get their chance to pick-their-own apples and spend the day at a farm. So, with this kind of dedication and demand, why soley shop at a chain grocer when the best, freshest produce can be found right around the corner, fresh picked from a field that morning? Farms around here offer much more than just fruits and veggies- you can plan an entire meal, even down to the accompanying wine or brew, with your findings from local Ulster County farm markets and, for the ambitious, you can even start your own farmstead with local seedlings, perennial plants and more. If you’re a self proclaimed foodie or have always dreamed of starting your own personal farm, then there aren’t too many better places to stick roots than in Ulster County.
Here’s a peek at just some of the most popular places in Ulster County where you can get your hands on fresh, seasonal produce and so much more…
Offering: Fruits, vegetables, pick your own apples, jams and lots more
Strapped for time or just want to enjoy your Sunday shopping experience far away from glaring fluorescent lighting and aisles of humming freezers? Be sure to check out these area farmers markets running throughout the season, where you can pick up all your farm favorites in one spot and even more handmade and artisanal delights brought to you by local farms and businesses. Many of the farms listed above are regular attendees of these farm markets. If you’re a real foodie, an Ulster County farmers market is a can’t miss experience to stock up your pantry and be inspired by the variety of culinary delights.
If you’re looking to score the freshest quality local foods, but on a larger scale, say for an institution or restaurant you may work for, but don’t have the time to stop at a farmer’s market weekly, check out Hudson Valley Harvest; they aggregate and distribute fresh produce from over 50 Hudson Valley farms to the Tri-State area, so essentially, the farmers market can be delivered to your door!
Another popular way in which locals get their produce during summer months are from local farm’s CSA programs. CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” and essentially, it is just as it sounds. When you join, you purchase a “share” of the season’s crops at once, and then weekly (or biweekly) receive your share’s worth for the duration of the season. Not only do you get a variety of the week’s freshest produce straight from the farm, you are also supporting the farm so that they are able to purchase seeds and other necessary materials at the beginning of every growing season to keep continuing the process. Some CSA’s require help working the farm, but it isn’t required for membership in many local cases. If this type of program interests you, start doing your research in the fall and winter to make sure to save your spot for an upcoming spring harvest!
This Kingston based CSA operates as a U-Pick; meaning that every week, instead of receiving a random selection of produce available, you are welcome to the farm to pick which types of fruits and vegetables you would like for the week, by the unit. This CSA runs from June - October.
Phillies Bridge Farm, located in New Paltz, NY, has a bounty that includes weekly distributions of over 150 varieties of veggies, herbs and flowers and some crops are u-pick (including beans, peas and cherry tomatoes). Different sized shares are available depending upon the size of your family or needs. Runs from June - November.
Grass + Grit, also in New Paltz, offers one dozen pasture raised eggs on a biweekly basis from July - November. You can also find them at the Beacon Farmers Market where they bring assortments of non GMO meat and eggs for purchase. Their website also teases a Winter Meat and Egg share, where more details are soon to be announced.
Huguenot Street Farm in New Paltz has weekly distributions of fruits and vegetables in their shares, but they also have U-Pick selections including fresh flowers, berries, peppers and beans. This CSA runs from June - November, but soon the farm will be experimenting with extra late root crops that could extend their season even further. Huguenot Street Farm also offers different sized shares, including a share specifically just for their fresh grown fruit.
This Kerhonkson CSA program runs through the winter and includes hearty, cold-weather produce as well as offerings from their winter greenhouse, including produce such as squashes, pumpkins, onions, garlic and more.
This CSA, based in High Falls, runs from June - November and offers a variety of fruits and vegetables in their shares. This small scale CSA does require farm time for members to keep up the quality and make sure there is an abundance of produce for members.
If you’re interested in seeing even more Hudson Valley Farms that have CSA programs, check out this full CSA Index from Chronogram.
Dedicated to providing the freshest, healthiest food at the lowest prices possible, the High Falls Food Co-Op is a member owned store that supports local agriculture by providing a variety of local products. Anyone in the community is welcome to shop here, but by becoming a member, you’re able to receive a discount, and working members can receive a discount of up to 10%.
The idea here is that there is power in numbers. By sharing the costs with other members, the co-op is able to buy produce from local farmers in bulk at wholesale costs and then members band together to help with distribution. Check out their website for more details on how it works and how to join.
With locations in Kingston, Saugerties and Poughkeepsie, Mother Earth’s Storehouse helped start the organic, sustainable, and natural food trend in the Hudson Valley over 30 years ago when they created an alternative to big box food shopping. Today, they still focus on providing all natural and locally sourced food products and vitamins to Hudson Valley residents and their in store cafes allow you to get the same great quality prepared food on the go.
With stores in Kingston, and 3 other Dutchess and Orange County locations, Adam’s is another one stop shop for the finest local produce, meats, flowers, nursery items and lots lots more. What started as a single roadside farm stand in the early 1900’s has now grown into a family run chain of highly successful local markets with almost unparalleled variety of the freshest, locally sourced products.
Located in both Woodstock and Rhinebeck, NY, Sunflower Natural Foods Market is a family owned and operated health food market sourcing local organic produce, supplements and more. Sunflower market is a one-stop shop to find your local organic favorites and their Rhinebeck location contains a deli cafe and juice bar for healthy eating on the go.
Ulster County is for Foodies!
Ulster County is for everyone, but definitely for foodies in particular, and what better place is there to enjoy all this great local fare than in your own backyard? Many locations in Ulster County have prime land, ready and able to farm where your dreams of having your own farmstead are extremely close to becoming a reality.
If you are looking for a place that would give you the land to create a personal, or commercial sized garden or farm, raise animals and more, you will certainly find it here.
If you’re looking to start your own personal garden or farm you’ll need to start from seed, and luckily, in Ulster County there are plenty of nurseries that can help get you started. If you’re more of the “Do-It-Yourself” type and have been inspired to start your own garden, before we wrap up, be sure to check out some of the local resources below…
Are you interested in learning more about how you can take your own Ulster County farmstead dreams and turn them into a reality? Contact Taft Street Realty so that one of our agents can help you find where to place your Ulster County roots!