Monthly Archives: October 2013

Shaupeneak Ridge

There is no doubt about it; Autumn is at our doorstep. And there is no place more beautiful in fall than the Hudson Valley. Half an hour from Vassar’s front gate is one of the most beautiful parks in Ulster county.


Shaupeneak Ridge is home to almost 9 miles of trails up and down and around a beautiful lake. A multitude of flora and fauna have claimed the ridge to their own. On my hike we encountered snakes, chipmunks, deer, frogs, fish, salamanders, squirrels, and birds, not to mention the occasional hiker and their dog. The leaves were a spectacular combination of fiery reds, burnt oranges, sunny yellows and vivid greens. I could not have wished for a more beautiful hike.


Shaupeneak Ridge is not a top tourist destination, but rather a park for the peaceful explorer. It is a little ways from any large city or other tourist destination, and it is off a small, almost hidden road (I almost missed the entrance) from 9W. Due to the large number of parks in the Hudson Valley, Shaupeneak Ridge may seem at first glance to be just another forest. But once I stepped foot onto the path in the bright sunlight and felt the soft wind on my skin, the land enchanted me. There was no one in sight and it was a perfect day. My friends, Miranda and Bernardo, had accompanied me to the park, and at 1:00 we started our hike. Little did we know that the path we chose was the hardest one in Shaupeneak. On our trek we met two families with dogs, an older trio out to take pictures, two young mountain bikers, and a middle-aged couple.


The view once we reached the summit (we climbed 900 vertical feet!) was breathtaking and well worth the hike. We could see all the way across the Hudson River and all the changing leaves. Turn a little, and we could make out the Catskills as well. It was really a perfect day for an expedition.

A little background on Shaupeneak Ridge: It’s not a profit based, nor economically providing place. It doesn’t bring in money, tourists, or stand out in any way. 790 acres of gorgeous mountainous terrain in the Marlboro Mountains. And that is what makes it so appealing to nature lovers.


The serene atmosphere is the main appeal to visitors and residents of the Hudson Valley alike. This park is solely for leisure and relaxation and even some hunting. It is by no means a high trafficked area, but it’s not barren either. It fits in perfectly with the surrounding mood and landscape of the Hudson Valley. It’s such a good example of the Hudson atmosphere that Scenic Hudson holds its annual Spring Sprint 5K Trail Race.

IMG_2089After hiking for two hours, the lake was a welcome sight. Besides holding incredible beauty, the lake was home to a myriad of little creatures. We spent another ten minutes just soaking up the sun, peace and view. All-in-all, I would definitely return to this preserve. Anyone who is up for a hike with splendid scenery should consider making the trip to Shaupeneak Ridge. If you would like to learn more, visit Scenic Hudson’s page on the park. Planning a visit? Check out Hike The Hudson Valley’s website for more detailed information on trails and weather.




A Warm Day On The Rail Trail


image With the leaves rustling and crumbling beneath my feet and the smell of fallen leaves floating through the Dutchess County air, I was quickly reminded that it was fall, despite the 80 degree weather. On my trip to the Dutchess County Rail Trail I was surprised, awed and comforted by many aspects of this trail.

I was first surprised at the accessibility of the trail. It seems as though the one goal the county had in mind when building the trail was making sure that it was attainable by every resident of every city and town. There are parking lots and entrances at nearly every city it passes through, with distinct directions on their website. The trail was even elongated recently just so that people will be able to stay on their bikes when they want to finish their ride on the Walkway Over the Hudson.

image_15 The path was filled with residents, some who I talked to. Mary, from Arlington, said that she loves going on runs in the mornings, before anyone gets on the trail, so that she could enjoy the brisk air and the trees all by herself. image_10

This path, designed specifically for a leisurely stroll or calming bike ride, was somewhat disappointing to a non-resident. Although the trees surrounding the trail were beautiful, especially in the beginnings of fall, it was unexciting. There wasn’t a goal at the end of the trail, it wasn’t at all difficult, and the scenery was uninteresting after walking on the trail for ten minutes. Thus, you can say a girl who thoroughly enjoys a challenging trail, or one that loves to sit at the top of a mountain and watch the sunset, was pretty bored after 15 minutes of walking.

On the other hand, it was wonderful to talk to a few residents and regular users of this trail. John, a man in his mid-sixties finds himself using the Rail Trail as a way to relieve a lot of stress and get away from his lovely, but nagging wife. And he seems to not be alone. Residents use this trail as a getaway from reality, from their lives. The trees encompass you completely, so much that you are excluded from the outside world. You are able to walk on this trail and stare at nothing but trees, engulfed in the world of mother nature and your own thoughts. Who would not want the ability to just escape for a few hours at a destination just a few minutes away from your home.

image_17 As a Vassar student, one without knowledge of the area, without a car and who doesn’t leave campus too often, it was inaccessible and difficult to get to and fairly uninteresting. Yet, it was a great getaway. I did not think of classes resuming next week, missing my family or about writing this paper. I simply walked down a simple path, surrounded by trees and my simple thoughts. Looking back, it was one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve had on a trail and the only time I was surrounded by locals who were enjoying the benefits of the Hudson Valley.


FishKill Farms!!



What a great day it was to go apple picking at Fishkill Farms!!! It was warm, sunny, Saturday afternoon when I arrived at the farm. It took about 30 minutes to get to Fishkill Farms from Vassar. However, the drive was definitely part of the experience!! In early October, the hills were the best shades of orange, red, and yellow. Pulling into the farm was breathtaking. Fishkill Farms is surrounded by hills! They have acres of apple orchards, vegetable gardens, a pumpkin patch, and berry bushes.


At eleven in the morning, cars were already crowding the parking lot! This may have been because it was the peak time of year for apple picking as well as a CSA pick-up day. There were many workers directing cars as well as people. Apple picking for the first time was a great experience for me at Fishkill Farms! At the entrance to the orchard, they gave out apple bags for everyone picking apples. It was 30 dollars to fill a whole bag or you had to pay by the pound.


There were so many different kinds of apples to choose from!! However, the different types of tress were labeled and there were many employees around to ask. One employee told me his favorite type of apple was the Macron! They were very sweet and juicy.


After I picked enough apples I went up to the farm store to enjoy live music!! They had a band playing on the lawn as well as barbecue, ice-cream, and freshly-made cider donuts. The cider donuts were amazing!!!


As the day went on, more and more people arrived at the farm. Soon there were more than 100 people there! The line for barbecue and donuts was super long. People were taking there food and sitting on the grass to enjoy the music! There was also a bunny coup by the field that all the children were glued to.


Fishkill Farms is extremely family oriented. The majority of people there were people with young children! There were children running up and down the apple trees as well as the grassy field by the food and entertainment.


By advertising itself as a family friendly destination, Fishkill Farms is able establish itself as an important part of the community. It is a place where families can learn about farming and relax and have a good time with loved ones as well as their community.


However, there is no doubt that being an important part of the community is extremely beneficial to Fishkill Farms. Having free entertainment and food on Saturdays draws many previous as well as new customers to the farm. Fishkill Farms makes a large profit by having events centered around apple picking. They take into consider what the community is looking for, thus people flock to it. Fishkill Farms is a good example of a medium/large farm that is successful at bringing the community together around the principles of sustainable agriculture and local food!!!



Beacon Farmers Market

IMG_2008On Sunday, October 13 I knew I needed to get from point A to point B, A being Vassar College and B being the Beacon Farmers Market.  There was only one way to do this, there are actually more ways to do this but for a broke car less college student like me there was only one way, the Metro North Rail. IMG_2007 I took a cab to the Poughkeepsie Station with my very nice roommate, Madison who agreed to accompany me on this independent field trip after begging her for what seemed a lifetime, 30 seconds.  Once at the Poughkeepsie Station, we purchased our $7 roundtrip tickets to the Beacon Station.  We boarded the train and waited a short 15 minutes to arrive at Beacon Station, during this time all I could think of was “Once I get there, how in the world am I going to get the farmer’s market?” and “the Hudson River is so beautiful!!!” considering that was the view from the window the whole train ride. As we got closer, I was able to pick out the blue canopies laid out of the river front across from the station, could it be the farmer’s market was right across from the station.  Sure enough we got off the train and Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo it was the Beacon Farmer’s Market.


IMG_2001IMG_2005This farmer’s market was nothing like the Amenia Farmer’s Market we first visited in our journey as students of “Field Experiences in the Hudson Valley” this market was full of vendors and crowds of people with recyclable bags in hand asked questions, sampled products, and purchased products to fill their refrigerators and pantries. A line of about twenty enthusiastic buyers waited in front of one of the blue canopies which was the source of smell of beef kabobs with the banner reading “Nana’s Middle Eastern Foods”.  I was unsuccessful as I tried to sneak a picture of these tasty looking and smelling kabobs.  Apart from Middle Eastern foods, vendors selling garlic, vegetables, ice cream, milk, spices, pastries, fresh baked breads, varieties of cheese, beef, pork, lamb, chicken, eggs, honey, maple syrup, homemade preserves and jams were lined along the river front selling their products to local Beacon residents and people arriving on the Metro North Train like me.


Once I finished going around the Beacon Farmer’s Market a couple of times I saw more canopies lined up on the river front a quarter mile away from where I was standing.  As I walked out of the Farmer’s market I read a poster saying “Pumpkin Festival Sun. Oct. 13” with an arrow pointing towards the the direction were the canopies were.  This Festival was full of  family’s enjoying the beautiful day while listening to live folk music and picking out pumpkins and other merchandised sold by local vendors.  This festival seemed like it was designed for IMG_1963the residents of Beacon. Students from the local elementary school sang a couple of songs I had never heard and art drawn by students from the local high school IMG_1952was also displayed. After an hour of walking around this community based festival I decided it was time to go back to Vassar.  As I walked back to Beacon Station I saw a sign signaling the way to Dia: Beacon, I walked for about 3 minutes to get to  Dia: Beacon. I knew I had no time to go in, but I will definitely visit Beacon again to explore Dia: Beacon and the city of Beacon.





The Final Scene: Glynwood Center


The final supper, the 26th mile of a marathon, this was the last scene of our epic film. The film titled, “Field Experiences in the Hudson Valley”, is starring a fellowship of Vassar students, a Sociology Professor, and a good friend by the name of Baynard. Our final trip into the wilderness was to the fairy-tale-esque Glynwood Center, a think tank of progressive environment and social thought.IMG_1839

Departing from Vassar we headed south along the grand ol’ Hudson, in search of a hidden oasis. Cruising in our version of the Mystery Machine we zipped through the scenic countryside, preparing for the last hurrah. At last, we came to an extremely sharp turn in the road at a small but noticeable sign that read “Glynwood”. Entering under a canopy of red, yellow, and orange deciduous trees we had stepped into a realm of progressive intellectuals. Driving up, up, and up a peaceful dirt road we finally came out from under the roof of leaves into a hidden valley, enclosed on all sides by tree-laden hills. It was absolutely breathtaking; we had arrived at the Glynwood Center.

IMG_1937We stepped out of our very own Mystery Machine and walked quietly as we tried to take in the beautiful landscape surrounding us.  We were greeted and offered donuts and cider as we entered the office. Once inside we helped ourselves to the refreshments laid out for us and waited for the President of Glynwood Center, Kathleen Firth to speak to us.

Kathleen Firth poured loads of marvelous information about Glynwood Center as she spoke to us. We learned that the Glynwood Center is a non-profit organization that aims to promote a healthier regional food system, improve the economy, conserve the natural environment, and promote a sense of place. Glynwood Center offers different programs like the Glynwood Farm, Apprentice Program, Keep Farming and the Apple Project to help promote those four goals. As part of the IMG_1871Apple Project, Glynwood Center initiated cider week, which is part of Glynwood’s effort to try to make apple orchards viable in order to help keep more apple orchards open.

Along with describing the center’s programs, Kathleen also described Glynwood Center’s relationship with the Hudson Valley.  She explained that being located in the Hudson Valley is in large part responsible for Glynwood Center’s success.  She described the Hudson Valley to be “uniquely poised to be an example of a robust and thriving food system, and that is exactly what Glynwood center is doing.  Glynwood Center works directly with their community in the Hudson valley by offering Community Supported Agriculture in which members of the community purchase shares of the farm’s vegetables. After our information session on Glynwood Center we offered the opportunity to see everything we learned first hand through a tour guided by a Vassar Alumni.

IMG_1805Full of donuts and cider we reentered the fresh air, ready to experience life at Glynwood. We walked up the hill about 100 yards until we saw three plump pigs wading in the mud, apparently unaware of our approach. As we came closer one spotted us, alerted the others using a gentle grunt, and they then proceeded to examine us all for tasty treats we might be hiding in our pockets. They were great (and smart) animals, and seemed very happy. They had plenty of space, water, shelter, and were being fed with organic, non-genetically modified feed. Which unfortunately, in our capitalistic economy, is twice as much as (what is now the norm) GM feed. From there we walked down around the bend to find a spotted mother with her spotted piglets. Absolutely adorable is the only description appropriate for this experience. Their ears were so big and floppy that they could barely see where they were walking. Playing with one another, annoying their mom, and playing in the water bucket, they were loving life.

-Colin Cederna & Jessica Cervantes





Two Weekends in the Hudson Valley: Mountains and Apples


On Saturday September 21st I headed out to hike Stissing Mountain in Pine Plains, NY. The preserve is a Nature Conservancy property about 40 minutes away from Vassar College in north-eastern Dutchess County.

Setting out in the morning, the air was crisp, foreshadowing the autumn days to come. The directions I obtained from the internet were not extremely descriptive, but I eventually found the trailhead:


About 100m up the trail, I found this little Orange Spotted Newt sitting on a rock. It was a lovely start to the day, but also really exemplified the nature that tourists often come to the Hudson Valley to admire:


The hike up to the top was fairly steep, but certainly worth the effort. After missing a trail turn and getting lost in the woods for 30 minutes, I eventually discovered the fire tower. Although I harbor a small fear of heights, I slowly reached the top of this rickety metal and wood structure. The views from the top were spectacular.


The view up at the tower was also beautiful (the top of the left peak):



After all this activity, I planned to stop by the relatively new Red Devon Market, Bar, and Restaurant in Bangall, NY. However I found out that that I arrived in the awkward time between lunch and dinner (4p.m.?) where only the bakery case and market items were available. However, I do intend on returning to enjoy some local eats, as I have heard this place has excellent farm-to-table creations.

On a whim, I then ventured to Millbrook,NY to share a meal with my boyfriend/driver. It was a fairly average diner in a cute little town:


Overall, It was a great day in the Hudson Valley!



On Saturday September 28th I decided to go pick some apples. I went to Fishkill Farms in East Fishkill, NY. I won’t tell too much about this day because some of my classmates will share about their apple picking adventures in more depth, but a few hours spent in an orchard did make me ponder one question of note: Is this model of agri-tourism sustainable? Several attributes of my experience caused me to pose this question.

  1. The line of cars waiting to enter and exit the orchard. Besides being immediately counterintuitive to the “fresh air” experience I thought I was having, they really show the problematic structure of a society where suburban/urban tourists pollute their own homes, yet also expect an unpolluted day in the country.
  2. The small variety of apples that are available, showing the growing homogenization of agriculture, and lack of historic biodiversity.
  3. The solar panels on the roof. In contrast with the previous points, I was excited to see this step in the right (meaning more ecologically sustainable) direction.
  4. The lack of pesticides used in the orchards. On the back of the map of the orchard, the management bragged about their clay-based insect repellent. This may also exemplify a case of how an operation like this can be more eco-friendly.

I certainly don’t have a conclusive stance on if this business model can be ecologically sustainable. This may be because the sustainability of this business is not one-sided because the orchard is not a closed system: the needs and practices of the consumers certainly play a part in the adoption of sustainability initiatives. However, the ecological focus of this business is a good thing, and makes me hopeful for the future. The adoption of more sustainable business practices can help create an economically thriving, ecologically healthy Hudson Valley.



Thoughts From Places: My Farm Fresh Rail Tour

Last Sunday, at 9:50 a.m., I boarded the bus, umbrella in hand, to begin my Farm Fresh Rail Tour of Dutchess County, specifically for the “Fall Harvest:  Wine, Cheese, & Apple Picking Weekend.”

First Stop: Fishkill Farms!

Although the rain of the morning had subsided, the weather was not optimal for apple picking, so I decided to check out the shop and buy some apple cider donuts. As I sat down at a picnic table to eat a donut and admire the scenery, I found it easy to imagine why so many city folk would want to go on one of these rail tours. Here, at the orchards, the other travelers and I were able see the true vastness of the land with the mountains in the background. In a striking contrast from New York City, the world here encourages us to slow down and pick apples as we stroll through a path of trees. Or, in the shop, we are able to realize how much work goes into each item, whether it be apple butter, tomato sauce, pies, jams, squash, pumpkins, pears, or corn, and we are forced to slow down and admire the (perhaps not so) small things in life. The farm fresh tours make this easy for people in the city–just buy your combination train-and-bus ticket, hop on the train at the correct time and place, and allow yourself to be whisked off to a lower stress atmosphere with the beauty of the Hudson Valley.

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Next stop: the village of Millbrook!

If there was one word that was overused in this six-week course, it was “quaint,” but that is the word I would use to describe this little town. Filled with antique shops and boutiques, the village reminded me of our trip to Hudson. I ventured into two, the Millbrook Antiques Mall and Red School House Antiques, the latter being open only on Thursdays through Sundays. The owners of both shops greeted me warmly when I arrived, perhaps hoping to make me feel that traditional small business friendliness. One of them asked me, “How long ago did the bus arrive?”, which told me that these tours must supply many of their customers. I asked another what he believed drew people from the city to this area. Speaking as a former resident of the city himself, he replied that people really love the beauty and open space of the Hudson Valley, and how the area is not too commercialized. He added that people come here from all over, and they always say, ‘there’s no other place like this.’
After getting tired of looking at expensive antique items, I decided it was time for a bite to eat. As I studied the various places to get food, I noticed their slogans, notably the Millbrook Diner: “Stop! It’s time to eat!” and Babette’s Kitchen“simply good food.” The first phrase reminded me of what I had thought about at Fishkill Farms. Here was another place where visitors could slow down and take a moment for leisure. The slogan was a reminder of the importance of food and enjoying life.
The second phrase made me think of something else. Are these visitors trying to experience the authenticity of the area as they perceive it? Perhaps city visitors are also trying to capture the simplicity they believe the Hudson Valley life to have. Maybe they feel as if Fishkill Farms gives them an “October Harvest” experience, and Millbrook provides them with an opportunity to window shop and sit down for a relaxed meal at a “kitchen”. Both can give them tastes for what they perceive as the simple lifestyle and culture of the area.

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Third stop: the Clinton Vineyards!

“It feels like we’re back in the Civil War era.” This was something I heard someone say as she and her friends wandered around the property of the Clinton Vineyards. Although she immediately retracted her statement with “not really,” I saw where she was coming from. When we take time to admire the beauty of the landscape, it seems as if we are not only trying to pause time, but to go back to the past, which we associate in many ways with more simplicity.
The rolling hills of the adjacent fields made me think about what the shop owner had said about visitors loving the Hudson Valley’s open space. While children ran around on the grassy fields, their parents tasted wine to experience yet another “authentic” aspect of the area’s culture.

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And finally: Sprout Creek Farm!

One highlight of this part of the trip was the three hour old calf! I was not able to take a picture, but I got a chance to see some of the cows get milked. The process seemed similar to that of Saundra’s milking building. Metal pipes carried away the milk, and it looked as if there were similar conveyor belts to carry away waste.
Sprout Creek provided us with our last tastes of the Hudson Valley for the day. In addition to seeing the cows, we visited the goats and chickens and tasted various kinds of delicious cheese.

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As a side note, I met a Vassar student at Sprout Creek who had just started working there!



Opus 40

        IMG_1828After a flustering search for a ride to Rosendale’s Zombiefest, I had to concede the trip. But what could be better than people dressed up in corn syrup blood and ripped clothing? How would I ever redeem myself to my quirky professor? I was stressed. I went through the options for our field trips again, but nothing really stood out. I guessed that I could, maybe, if I had to, go to Opus 40 with my dad when he came for fall break.

Now, this might be a little bold, but I think that Opus 40 could have been better than the Zombiefest… but let me tell you more about what it it is. Opus 40 is an outdoor and “environmental” sculpture in Saugerties, about an hour away from campus (which made for excellent father and daughter bonding). It was built over 37 years by Harvey Fite, a professor at Bard (you win this one guys) who used leftover bluestone from the abandoned quarry.

We drove through areas saturated with corporations like Starbucks, wide open spaces, farms open for picking apples or pumpkins and a couple haunted houses ready for Halloween. Welcome back to America, dad.  

We bought our tickets at $10 for adults, and $7 for students. We started talking with the man who sold them to us, who told us some really interesting things about the site. A lot of concerts used to happen around the sculpture, and still do—last year they had over 2,000 people for one event. Hurricane Sandy and Irene damaged one side of the sculpture, so now people can’t walk on it but they can see all the layers underneath, which is almost cooler. He then handed us a map and showed us where we could watch a six minute video about the site. The video was pretty informative and made the sculpture even more impressive by explaining the process and exhausting work that went into it.

IMG_2038After the viewing in a musty, wooden room, we walked around their gift store, which sells Opus 40 branded merchandise, candy and some beautiful art pricing up to $1,500. Walk around the barn and there’s a quarrymen’s museum with tools hung up in interesting formations. The museum is as beautiful as it is creepy—those tools are scary. It’s a whole experience there.

IMG_2015When we ventured out to the main attraction, it was almost zen with perfect weather, fall foliage and beautiful mountains as a backdrop. You kinda feel like an adventurer walking on the uneven and sometimes wobbly stones, and every different angle that you find is unique and absolutely breathtaking. You have to take a moment, find some privacy, and sit down. Go admire the multiple pools, equipped with fountains; sculptures scattered around the property, carved out of bluestone; and the nine ton monolith in the center.


Harvey Fite and his wife had their ashes spread over Opus 40, and I can see why. The place is majestic. Besides the almost meditative environment, Opus 40 provides an experience for visitors with a friendly and passionate staff, museum and gift shop—catering to all the people looking for a good getaway.IMG_1827For more info check out their website!


Madava Farms: A Sweet Field Trip



I couldn’t have been more excited to go taste maple syrup AND get class credit for it. We drove through country roads lined with orange, red and yellow leaved trees. The entrance was decorated with the autumn essentials (squash, pumpkin and hay) and despite our professor’s warnings – we weren’t prepared for the real fall season. Shellie greeted us promptly and gave us some time to look around their lobby, which was a syrup lover’s dream – maple syrup chocolate, maple sugar, apple butter (made with maple syrup, obviously) and even apparel. 


She lead us through to a massive wall mural, which depicts Madava Farms, and started to tell us about the history and science behind Crown Maple Syrup. Robb Turner bought the property for his family and saw an opportunity in the huge amount of maple trees that filled the land to get involved in the syrup game.


Since then the property has grown to 800 acres, and includes multiple ponds, a sugarhouse, processing facility and restaurant- all in about 36 months! In that time they seemed to have mastered the production of pure maple syrup.


They tap the maple trees with small plastic tubes which feed the sap, for about twenty days, into lines that lead to the processing center. The sap goes through a sci-fi looking reverse osmosis machine, a gigantic evaporator, a filter and eventually becomes our beloved maple syrup. Before packaging (by hand), they taste every barrel for quality control. Luckily, they gave us a chance to partake in quality control by giving us a tasting. We had shot glasses of light, medium and dark amber – and that’s how we got to drink maple syrup AND get class credit for it – cheers to the freakin’ weekend!



Crown Maple Syrup is striving to become a unique culinary and nature destination! Due to their picturesque location and the remarkably high quality of their maple syrup restaurants and chefs all over the world are already starting to take an interest in Crown Maple. Because of their state-of-the-art facilities, Crown Maple has the capacity to grow into one of the largest maple farms in the world! They currently tap 40,000 trees, but have the ability to tap 400,000!



However, it was very recently that Crown Maple emerged as a leading competitor in the maple farming world. In 2011, Crown Maple mastered their purification process, putting their maple syrup on the map. At the same time, they started developing the visitor aspect of their company, bringing people from all over the world to get a taste of their one-of-a-kind maple syrup.


Crown Maple attributes their location in the Hudson Valley as the reason for their overwhelming success. First, the natural characteristics of the land provides a large amount of maple trees in a relatively small area. This makes tapping more numerous and efficient than shipping sap from other locations. Second, the Hudson Valley is already known as a “food hub”, making the demand for fresh, local, and decadent foods very high. Because of this “foodie” culture, Crown Maple is able to sell its products to many up-and-coming restaurants and chefs in the Hudson Valley. Third, their proximity to New York City opens up a huge market for Crown Maple to grow and expand their company.


Overall, we had a great experience at Crown Maple!! Compared to the other farms we have visited as a class, Madava Farms is very unique because of the advanced technology they have access to and how they utilize it to progress the science of farming in the Hudson Valley. Crown Maple is a good example of the possible future of agritourism! Sweet right!!?



Culinary Institute !

“Make Food Your Life at the CIA”     – The Motto of the CIA  IMG_3846

Well, I have visited the Culinary Institute, Hyde Park Campus for my individual fieldtrip. It’s really close to Vassar. It is actually a 15 minutes’ drive away from Vassar. The CIA was really awesome in so many different ways. It is a non-profit private institute which gives a really good education on culinary and baking. Also, they are not just located in Hyde Park. They also have campuses in Singapore, St. Antonio Texas and St. Helena, California. The institute identify itself as the world’s premier culinary college. They have no other branches. They are focused on culinary arts, baking & pastry arts. There are 2000 students at a time. As you may guess, the education is mostly based on practice rather than theory. It is founded in 1964 andIMG_3871 since then they have been providing a culinary education. They also have certificate programs. And besides being a college, the culinary institute is also a destination for tourists. It may be said that the tourism also promotes the culinary institute. Although it is a tourist destination, the institute has a no-photo policy indoors. But, when I told them that I am from Vassar and will write a blog post about the CIA, they let me take some pictures and even assigned a student for me. Here it is : Me and Chandler.

She gave me some informal information about the CIA. Her major is baking&pastry arts. So she was not into the culinary so much but definetly into baking. When I asked her what made her chose the CIA, she told me that it’s because the CIA is only focused on culinary and baking. And it’s also because it’s reputation and connections. Once a student graduates from the CIA, they have many options.  The famous chef, cancer survivor Grant Achatz is also a Culinary Institute of America graduate. She also mentioned their study-abroad programs. They have the opportunityIMG_3868 to go and explore different cultures and their food! [Spain, France, Italy and China ]

They also prepare their own food!!!! I find that really awesome! Here is the photo of their dining hall where they do their homeworks, eat or hangout.

By the way, there are also wine classes for studensts. And the New York State Law has a special regulation for culinary arts students. They can get wine classes even they are underage, because the classes have educational purposes.IMG_3866

IMG_3856You ask.. how come it’s a tourist destination

Here it comes. They have fantastic restaurants. Actually I tried to book a table in one of them. But it appears like you should book a table a month before you actually go. This is crazy! But you can go to the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe without any reservation.

  • American Bounty Restaurant
  • The Bocuse Restaurant1383288_10151899369065861_724104059_n
  • Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici.
  • Apple Pie Bakery Cafe

Guess what I saw in the cafe. Crown Maple Syrup! [ And by the way it was cheaper]

I ate a grilled chicken sandwich with truffle French fries. Although the French fries were also good, I really liked the sandwich. Also the prices were reasonable.


The CIA is also promoting the culinary culture in the Hudson Valley. They are a member of the Hudson Valley Food&Beverage Alliance. And there is a center in the CIA for that purpose. I asked a few people about the Alliance but they did not have any information about it.


Anyway, there are so many things about the CIA. I just tried to give you an overview. If you are interested you can always go there or visit their web site.