Transplants in New York City are quick to learn that in order to survive in the City That Never Sleeps, one must take the time to escape, even if just for a day. New Yorkers rejoice: Your sanity is just a train ride away.
EscapeMaker, a booking platform for both day trips and local weekend getaways, offers travelers carefully-crafted experiences that will not disappoint. And launching today, EscapeMaker is offering Dutchess County Farm Fresh Tours – the perfect country escape for food-lovers.
Travelers start their day from Grand Central station, and the trip begins with a relaxing and scenic train ride upstate on Metro-North. From there, the group moves onto a bus shuttle service to explore different destinations within the beautiful Dutchess County area.
The trip is, of course, a refreshing escape from the city, but perhaps more importantly, it is an experience that showcases how food tourism can empower the communities/destinations we visit. Local agriculture is a driving economic force and way of life in the Hudson Valley. The destinations throughout the tour are family-owned, and offer visitors a chance to spend their money in confidence that their dollars are benefitting the local destination. For example, when you purchase directly from the source, the owner is making 30-40% more than they would if you purchased the same product from an outside distributor.
A New Age of Agriculture
As farm-to-table cuisine continues to rise in popularity, the positive benefits behind the movement are becoming more and more apparent. The popular direct-to-consumer model offers foodies fresher, high-quality food while also building upon a more economically-beneficial model for farmers.
The icing on the cake? Fresh, local ingredients represent a more eco-conscious method for consumption. Many of our food products are imported from outside destinations, and due to the fact that these products have to be transported long distances, our mainstream system can be environmentally detrimental – an act which is easy to avoid. For example, fruits/vegetables in the US are usually imported about 1,500 miles to their final destination – which means about 500 gallons of fuel is needed to haul that produce on a standard semi-truck. In addition, the farm-to-table methodology focuses on seasonal products, which means less negative impacts on our environment and also more varied menus throughout the year. By consuming produce from closer locations, we are not only eating food that tastes better, we are also supporting our local farmers and decreasing our carbon footprint.
It’s exciting that this new age of agriculture – one in which there are more speciality products, as well as fresher food – is on the rise and can help to build resiliency to climate change.
Dutchess County’s Hybrid of Tradition & Entrepreneurialism
Each of the destinations throughout the Farm Fresh Tours are unique and charming in their own way, but as the day progresses, it becomes apparent that the companies have many similarities as well. For me, one of the most interesting components was seeing how each of the companies embodied a sense of tradition, progression and entrepreneurialism.
McEnroe Farm originally began as a dairy farm in the 1950s, and has since grown into a beautiful example of how a holistic business benefits both our local community and world. Beginning in 2000, the farm began to diversify to develop compost productions, and acts as a supplier to many neighboring farms. A community resource, the farm also offers farm-based learning opportunities and fosters support for organic agriculture. Rooted in tradition, the farm practices innovative models to grow the best organic crops, including trip cropping, rotations and amending it with compost.
Crown Maple Estate, a relatively new contender to the maple syrup business, is quickly setting the standard for high-quality syrups – their philosophy is to shift the perception about maple from a sweetener to a defining ingredient. The team looks to the history of maple syrup for inspiration, and then pairs artisan craftsmanship with state-of-the-art production technology. Crown Maple syrup is crafted in sustainably-managed maple groves and with organic practices.
The team at Taconic Distillery looks to Hudson Valley history – from Lewis & Clark to George and Martha Washington – for the inspiration to craft barrel-aged distilled spirits made from corn, rye and barley. A small, craft distillery, Taconic Distillery is located on a beautiful plot of land (which was actually set for the location of a landfill before Taconic moved in). Visitors will be welcomed by Paul and Carol Coughlin, a husband and wife founder + mixologist duo with a wealth of knowledge and welcoming energy.
These destinations all embody a back-to-basics approach to creating the highest-quality products, and they’ve found innovative ways to succeed.
How We Can Improve Our World Through Food Tourism – Yes, it can be that easy.
We have the potential to positively impact our world through something so universally appealing as travel. To take it even a step further, we can help to improve our world through food tourism (agritourism) – an idea that seems almost too simple. Yes, you can make a positive impact on the destination you’re visiting… through the simple, everyday actions of being mindful of where you’re going out to a meal.
There are two core components that we should keep in mind:
- Buying local or from corporations that supply local means our farmers and entrepreneurs can make more money, and also ensures that money stays local.
- Sourcing farm-to-table means that we strain our environment less, and can reduce our carbon footprint.
By participating in activities that highlight these innovative practices, we have the opportunity to improve the economy, community and environment of the destinations we visit. In addition, these experiences are more centralized to the locations we’re visiting, and offer a more authentic, meaningful and unique look into the destination.
The first step toward more impactful practices is to understand where our food is coming from. Sustainability is a lifestyle, and making these decisions while we’re traveling will become secondhand nature if we practice what we preach at home. One of the amazing things about visiting the destinations on the Farm Fresh Tours is that many of these products are also available to us while at home (especially so for New Yorkers).
Irving Farm Coffee Roasters has locations all over New York City, and their coffee beans are available for purchase online as well. Stocked with speciality blends and single-origin coffee, sustainability is rooted deep within the Irving Farm Coffee Roasters methodology. The company has developed a green coffee buying program that focuses on direct relationships with farmers, sustainable practices and a philosophy of quality over quantity.
Harney & Sons Teas sources, blends and packages their craft teas, and offers more than 300 varieties. Family-owned and managed, their vision is to not only deliver high-quality teas, but also to educate consumers on the world of tea history and taste. Harney & Sons is headquartered upstate (their 90,000 square feet of warehouse space and a new bottling plant in Hudson, New York, employs more than 200 people), and New Yorkers will be pleased to know that there is another tasting room in Soho in Manhattan. The tea is also available for purchase online.
Through agritourism, we learn the stories behind the food we consume, and when we come home, we still have the opportunity to purchase those products and make decisions to support local economies and improve our environment.
At the end of the day, it seems like almost too simple of a solution to understand that food tourism could change the world – but it can.
To book your own Farm Fresh Tours experience, visit escapemaker.com/farmfreshtours