Friday, October 30, 2009

Northeastern Exposure Part 3 – Legends in Sleepy Hollow

By Jeannette Beranger

I left Tilley Foster Farm in Brewster, New York, and made my way south to meet with Craig Haney, Farm Manager of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, in Tarrytown. He and I were scheduled to give a presentation together at the famous Astor Center in New York City that evening. Along the way, I wanted to stop in the infamous community of Sleepy Hollow (yes, it actually exists!) that is adjacent to Tarrytown.

The first thing you notice coming into the town is the huge, historic cemetery where the famous author, Washington Irving, is buried. At the entrance to the cemetery is the former location of the bridge that Irving describes in his novel as “the place where poor Ichabod Crane meets the Headless Horseman.” The covered bridge is no longer there but there are the remains of a 17th century manor house. The property has become a living history museum that is open to the public. Philipsburg Manor is a beautiful facility that incorporates some rare breeds into its programs. I came upon an impressive Randall Lineback oxen team comprised of Jacob and Joshua. The two, led by farm manager Stephen Kozack, were busy pulling a load of hay from a nearby field on the property. Along the way, they passed numerous Wiltshire Horn sheep crosses that populate the entire farm and make visitors feel as if they have stepped back in time onto a working farm.

Time was growing short, so I made my way to Stone Barns in the next town over. Formerly an estate owned by David Rockefeller, the property is now open to the public and is dedicated to celebrating and teaching advanced community-based food production and enjoyment as well as “farm to classroom to table.” Several heritage crops and animals are raised at Stone Barns including heritage chickens, turkeys, and geese. I met up with Craig and along with his wife and new daughter and we made our way into New York City to the Astor Center.

The Astor Center, located in NoHo on the eastern edge of Greenwich Village, has the reputation of selling one of the most diverse collections of wine and spirits in the entire city. In keeping with the independent culture of “the village,” Astor goes beyond being just “another store” by offering a wide assortment of courses and presentations ranging from cooking, wine, food, and culture. ALBC was invited to the learning center at Astor to talk about rare breeds and how they are finding their way back onto farms and onto the American dinner table. Craig followed by talking about how rare breeds are incorporated into the sustainable farming practices of Stone Barns. The class was nearly filled to capacity and was well received by attendees. Craig and I were very pleased to see several familiar faces of friends from the Slow Food USA national office in NYC.

The trek northeast came to an end after NYC and I was very happy to finally make my way back to North Carolina and back to my own farm. My stay in North Carolina wasn’t very long as I had field work in Washington state and Oregon a couple of weeks later. On the road again….

Happy Halloween All!

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