Getting back to the land — for a weekend

Farm Stand at Pine Hill Farm, Chester, NYBeing a good locavorian recently, I’ve been haunting several local farms. With the impending US economicpocalypse (say that 10 times fast), my neighbors and I have eagerly started constructing our commune (we’ll all live in my house, farm the 4 acres; we have an architect/carpenter/farmer, a barrister/physicist/electrician, 2 seamstresses, and 3 writers … but I’m definitely digressing), and I actually found myself the other day checking the mileage to each of the farms I frequent.

That’s when I realized I’ve gone a bit overboard in chuckling over our impending financial doom and thumbing my nose at the billionaire powers-that-be.

Roadside veggiesBut I also realized that there are 3 excellent farms within less than 5 miles of my house, one of them completely organic. All of them have public farmstands, and one offers pick-your-own strawberries, tomatoes, pumpkins — depends on the season. One of them sells gorgeous pottery done by a local girl.

(Travel connection, you’re asking, drumming your fingers.)

Well, it’s often hard for all of us to remember that our homes are actually travel destinations for others, and not just for cutesy cafes and artsy shops. I live in a pretty rural area — it seems to disappear fast, but less than 5% of the actual land is developed. And a lot of New York City residents spend their autumn weekends up here, not just to peep at colorful leaves and get out of the city, but to, say, pick pumpkins and visit an apple orchard.

If you live in a city, there’s possibly few things more satisfying than getting out of it and touching actual dirt and growing things. This is especially true for families. I’m spoiled, having it right here, but if you live in the US there’s probably one near you, too.

For my adventures into the world of canning, preserving, and making jams, I’ve been addicted to a site called Pick Your Own. The directions for canning, freezing, etc., are detailed and meticulous (and there’s pictures! yay!), but the interest for weekenders out there is the listing of pick-your-own farms in every state of the union.

Getting cabin fever? Want to smell fresh air and fresh apples? Go to the site and find a U-pick apple orchard, or a tomato festival or a corn maze if that tickles your fancy.

Pine HIll Farm's fall offerings, Chester, NYEven if you’re not into picking your own produce, this site and others can get you in touch with our dirty roots. In my local area, Blooming Hill Farm (certified organic veggies and fruit) has a farm stand on the weekends, where a trained chef cooks amazing, simple brunches that we eat by a running creek. And over the Hudson, Sprout Creek Farm (a local producer of amazing cheese) rents out a cottage on-site and hosts summer and weekend educational programs for schoolkids.

Check out the apples at Roe's Orchards, Chester, NY By going rustic for the weekend, you might not learn a new language or eat eels for the first time, but you’ll still experience something new, give your soul-well a little earthy restoration, and support some of the US’s struggling family farms.

Now if someone would just give me heaps of cash I could buy an individual wind turbine, get that commune up and running, and romp around happily off-grid. Hey, happy fantasies never hurt anyone!

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