Despite all that we’re going through, fall is still the perfect time of year to connect with your food source. Getting better acquainted with locally grown food is easy, and you don’t need a car to do it. Opportunities to indulge in pure seasonal flavors are practically at your doorstep, as all of these destinations are less than two hours from midtown. Hop on the Jitney to a farm tasting and tour in the North Fork, ride Metro-North to a weekend getaway on a working farm or head to Stone Barns in Westchester for a Harvest Fest. Pick your own apples and pumpkins at nearby orchards and patches and enjoy the fruits of your labor in your home kitchen. This autumn in New York, gratifying your appetite in an eco-friendly way couldn’t get any simpler.
Sang Lee Farms Tour, Talk & Taste
When: Farm open to visitors daily 9-5 (except for Tuesdays), book tours by request
Where: 25180 County Road 48, Peconic, Long Island’s North Fork
Why: Tour the farm fields, greenhouses and barn. See where the produce grows and watch the bees buzz. Walk the grounds with family farmer Karen Lee as she explains the organic growing methods used and the challenges it presents. Enjoy a delicious tasting of sweet and savory treats from the Sang Lee Kitchen. You will have the opportunity to meet a Certified Nursery Specialist who will answer questions about home gardening.
How to get there: Hampton Jitney to Peconic. Bring your bike for a $15 fee and spend the rest of the day exploring the North Fork’s glorious coastal landscapes.
Queens County Fair
When: Weekend of September 24 and 25
Where: Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, NY
Why: You don’t need to journey to the Midwest to participate in a traditional county fair. Homespun is the key word at this Floral Park event with a pie-eating contest, livestock and local produce competitions, Lumberjack demos and more. Numerous workshops shine a special light on home composting and recycling.
How to get there: E or F Train to Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike Station, to the Q46 Bus (eastbound on Union Tpk.) to Little Neck Parkway. Cross Union Turnpike and walk North on Little Neck Parkway three blocks to the entrance.
When: Saturday, October 1, rain or shine
Where: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, 630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, NY
Why: Stone Barns is a bastion of community-supported agriculture. Celebrate the autumn harvest as you participate in food crafting, farm demos, hayrides, square dancing and much more at this non-profit Westchester farm and education center. Enjoy the fresh air while you learn about their noble mission to improve America’s eating habits by making fresh food more accessible. Learn how they support regional food systems and the continued growth of local agriculture with an array of programming for all ages.
How to get there: Metro North Hudson line to Tarrytown, followed by a quick taxi ride to the farm.
Liberty View Farms Tour and Overnight
When: Flexible scheduling
Where: Highland, NY
Why: Liberty View Farms is at the forefront of promoting progressive farming in Ulster County. Organic farming techniques and sustainable practices are shared with and learned from others. An afternoon or overnight at Liberty View Farms is an eye-opening way to familiarize with cutting edge sustainable farming methods. You are encouraged to taste the farm fresh produce that surrounds you.
How to get there: The fertile terrain of Liberty View Farms is easy to reach. Located only five minutes from New Paltz, the owner will pick visitors up in town with advance notice. Pinehill Trailways from Port Authority to New Paltz takes 90 minutes. As an alternative, take Metro-North to Poughkeepsie and get picked up there.
New York City Honey Festival
When: Saturday, September 17th, 2016
Where: 86 Street and Boardwalk, Rockaway Beach
Why: Who says you have to leave the city limits to celebrate fresh food? This festival honors the art of urban beekeeping and the glorious sweet stuff it produces. Taste the subtle nuances as you sample local monofloral honey and purchase beeswax candles and honey-based cosmetics to bring home. If you haven’t been to Rockaway post-Sandy, this is a great time to show your support for the local community. The event is for the entire family, with games, a movie screening on the beach, beekeeping classes and much more.
How to get there: Take the A train to Far Rockaway. Transfer at Broad Channel to the S (shuttle) train to 90th Street.
Hudson Valley Garlic Festival
When: October 1 and 2, 2016
Where: Saugerties, NY
Why: Journey to the majestic Catskill Mountains and be introduced to scores of unusual varieties of locally grown garlic. The smell of sizzling cloves will perfume the air as cooks prepare their favorite garlicky recipes for you to sample. Demonstrations of garlic braiding and garlic planting are informative. Lectures by culinary herbalist, organic garlic farmers and horticulturalists should inspire everyone to forgo sweet breath and get into the salubrious habit of growing and consuming plentiful quantities of this healthy bulb. Live music, Morris dancers, puppetry and contemporary theatrical performances round out the weekend.
How to get there: Pinehill Trailways bus from Port Authority gets you to Saugerties in two hours.
When: Sunday, October 2nd
Where: Warwick, Hudson Valley, NY
Why: Warwick is the heart of apple country, with an abundance of delicious varieties grown in local orchards. It’s the natural location to pay homage to this common yet utterly regal fall fruit. Stroll the village and browse the shops, purchase fruits and veggies from local vendors, watch the apple pie baking contest and enjoy live music and entertainment. Edible samples will be plentiful.
How to get there: NJ Transit buses # 96 and #97 from Port Authority to the Village of Warwick and you’ll be there in about 90 minutes.
Photos: Liberty View Farms, Queens County Farm, Sang Lee Farms, Stone Barns, Nona Brooklyn, @NYCphotos, OrganicNation
Allison is a native New Yorker, who has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne, Toronto and Los Angeles. She frequently contributes travel pieces to Family Travel Forum, using her own children as guinea pigs as they travel the globe. She is fluent in Italian and Spanish and laughably adequate in French. Her background as an Early Childhood Educator gives her an added understanding of what it takes to travel with kids in tow. She firmly believes that the most important part of education takes place outside of the classroom, on the road, around the world. She never misses a chance to sample local delicacies, as her love for travel goes hand-in-hand with her love for food and wine. Follow Allison at @gourmetrav.