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.
- 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.
- The small variety of apples that are available, showing the growing homogenization of agriculture, and lack of historic biodiversity.
- 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.
- 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.