We woke up early on Saturday to catch the 9am Metro-North train from the Harlem stop up to Poughkeepsie. I bet it was a beautiful two-hour ride, but I was catching some Zs the whole ride up while the Dr. studied for his board exams next to me. In the Poughkeepsie station, we stepped out to board the Loop shuttle bus. The other six people with us all had tickets to give the bus driver–we didn’t know we had to buy a package from the station clerk. It didn’t matter, though, because two round-trip tickets cost us $52 which was the same price of two Farm Fresh Link weekend getaway packages.
Our first stop was the Plankenhorn Dairy Farm, part of the Hudson Valley Fresh Cooperative. I’ve seen their labels around the city: Think Global, Eat Local. We were welcomed by the owners in their yard. They told us about the history of their dairy farm, their prized cow, Lizzie, and how happy their cows are. When we finally met the cows, I was surprised at how big they were. I guess the cows I see on pasture are not necessarily dairy cows. I thought dairy cows just had milk in them, you know? I had no clue they all have to give birth first before they can produce milk. All of Plankenhorn’s cows are artificially inseminated by different bulls all over the country to make sure that they produce nice calves and good milk. They milk them twice a day, one in the morning and later in the afternoon, after a day of resting in the barn equipped with a giant fan and tire mattresses to keep the cows comfortable.
My favorite part was, of course, tasting the farm’s milk. The regular milk was thin and tasted so fresh, while the chocolate milk was thicker and tasted like melted chocolate ice cream. Both were good with the chocolate cookies the farmers passed around. Because they are part of a cooperative, they can’t sell their milk at the farmers’ market. But you can get Hudson Valley Fresh milk from Zabar’s in the upper west side.
Our next stop was the town of Millbrook for the farmers’ market. I didn’t want to carry fresh meats in my tote bag all day, so we left with only a jar of garlic pickles and an apple turnover. We walked to the main street and checked out one of the antique stores before we sat outside Slammin’ Salmon to eat a hearty lunch of their “garbage” Angus beef burger and haddock fish and chips. We walked around the Millbrook park and playground before we got on the shuttle again for our last stop: Barton Orchard.
The original plan was to stop at Secor Farm and pick our own strawberries. Apparently, the farm is running out of fresh strawberries because it’s been popular the last few weekends. We were dropped off Barton Orchard instead to pick cherries. I’ve never seen cherry trees before, so I was amused to see real trees. I thought cherries hang from tall bushes the way blackberries grow. So I climbed one of the trees to reach the ripe cherries on top. After we filled two buckets, we went to the store to pay for our harvest. Our eight-pound yield cost us about $23.
It was the perfect day to visit the farms upstate. We were so spent that we passed out on the train ride back home.
Take advantage of the Dutchess County Farm Fresh Weekend Getaway with Metro-North:
From Grand Central Terminal or the Harlem stop, take the Poughkeepsie train that will take you to the last stop by 10:57am. Buy the $25.75 Dutchess County package which includes the shuttle bus ticket or call 1-800-445-3131 to reserve a seat at least 48 hours ahead. Outside the Poughkeepsie train station, look for the bus labeled “Dutchess County Farm Fresh Link”. There are three stops and the driver will stay with you until he has to drop you off the train station to catch your train back to New York City.