Author Archives: grriley

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!!!



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!!?





Hello everyone! My name is Grace Riley. I am from the Big Island of Hawai’i in a town called Hilo. Im a Junior Urban Studies Major with concentrations in Political Science and Women’s Studies. Having grown up in Hawai’i, I am accustomed to the idea of locally grown fruits and vegetables and cool Farmers Markets. However, the Farmers Market in Hilo would be described as a little more hectic and diverse than the quaint little Market in Amenia.


What first struck me about the Farmers Market in Amenia was that it had very little fresh fruits and vegetables and more baked goods, homemade products, and dairy! This is very different from the Farmers Markets I am used to seeing back home. However, the food looked amazing and I was temped to buy it all!


These handmade soaps immediately caught my attention. They were so pretty!


Walking out of the Farmers Market and into the town center of Amenia was an interesting experience. The center of Amenia is home to the only stop light in the town as well as a quirky antique store. This is telling of where the population of Amenia resides and how the town wan’t to appear to outsiders; a unique, little town with much character.