While our "Upstate" inspired installation at Whisper may be history, we have reassembled our favorites here. All of the items are created by our maker neighbors and partners in the Hudson Valley/Catskill zone. We chose them not only because of their originality and quality, but also because they look great. Thanks again to Emma Tuccillo of @AndNorth and @kateorne for their contributions to the curation.
Hudson Woods has teamed up with the Whisper to create a furniture, design and retail installation that we’re calling “UPSTATE”. We have selected works from a number of our furniture maker partners and -- along with notable guest curators -- have scoured the Hudson Valley for beautifully designed home accessories and objects crafted by Upstate makers, artisans and manufacturers.
Two weeks ago at our Tesla event we invited celebrated local butcher Joshua Applestone to grill his insanely delicious hot dogs and sausages. Not a link was left by the end of the party, and we learned a great deal about the newly minted Applestone Meat Co., a butcher shop with a digital brain whose entrepreneurial ethos would impress even Tesla's Elon Musk, and whose business plan echoes that of Seamless, Uber or Fresh Direct.
We are very pleased to tout this week the fact that Hudson Woods has been the number one trending listing on Brownstoner Upstate's real estate section. It's a testament to a resurgent interest that city dwellers have in experiencing rural life and to the newfound awareness of the myriad upstate towns and their particular personalities. Since early 2014, there has been an unprecedented burst of home sales activity that in the Hudson Valley, and particularly in our own Ulster county. On numerous blogs and in conversations with local realtors and interior designers, the consensus is that 2015 may be bigger than ever.
Did you ever think of seeds the way you think about books? About 10 years ago, Ken Greene, made such a metaphorical leap, and started the country's first seed lending sytem out of the Gardiner library, a stone's throw from Hudson Woods. Then a masters student and part timer there, he saw "a lot of similarities between seeds and books. Seeds are stories that we're passing on, they're not just a commodity.
After commissioning a delightful brown ale from Arrowood Farms Brewery for our October gathering, we decided to look a little closer at this exciting operation unfolding just a stone's throw from Hudson Woods.
When we think Hudson Valley skiing, we conjure the familiar Catskill hills close by-- Belleayre, Windham and Hunter Mountain. But just adjacent Hunter in Tannersville, is a less well known but quite spectacular cross country ski park called Mountain Trails XC Ski Center. Set among 300 heavily wooded acres traversed by former logging trails, the facility has been lovingly preserved, maintained and improved by the Hyer family since they purchased the property in 1978.
Since we launched this past summer many people have inquired about renting at Hudson Woods but since we aren't currently renting out the model house, we wanted to provide some insights about the rental market in our area both for homeowners and those looking for short term getaways.
We have long been admirers of the brilliant Irving Farm Coffee shops, not least because they are a unique presence in the Hudson Valley, maintaining a roasting barn, a café and a quarter of their staff in “sleepy” Millerton, New York, 30 miles due east (well, by crow) and across the river from the Hudson Woods site. We spoke with John Summerour--who has the unusual title of “dream catcher” at the company-- about what makes Irving Farm so different from the bright constellation of high end, specialty coffee operations.
Many of you who attended the launch party have asked us about who was responsible for the brilliant barbecue, the refreshing summer beers, and the decadent pies and ice cream. We are happy to share the sources with you, especially since they are all Hudson Valley enterprises and part of the local fabric.
Tucked above a sprawling antiques store in “downtown” Rhinebeck is Hundred Mile, a compact set of rooms filled with some very big names in design. Owners Kristina Albaugh and Josh Ingmire view it as their personal showroom where they display furniture, lighting, and accessories from dozens of designers one would usually only find in major metropolitan areas.
Perhaps you’ve just toured the Ashokan Reservoir and are contemplating its monumental and serene beauty while driving down the rather rural Route 28, and another oasis of sorts appears in a sturdy 1940’s era mechanic’s garage.
Only 12 miles from the Hudson Woods property, Saunderskill Farms is, according to many documents the second oldest farm operating in the country. Still in the hands of the original family, the Schoonmakers, the farm dates back to over 300 years when Peter Stuyvesant himself granted 300 acres of land to Lieutenant Hendrik J Schoonmaker as a payment for military service.
"For Romosa Excavation, a family owned business, it's really a pleasure to be able to work with a group like Lang Architecture that is concerned about the environment and wants to put the extra mile into sustainability. "
No Upstate collection would be complete without one of its signature products, homemade maple syrup. This beautiful product was produced and bottled by our friends at Ravenwood, who explore the
integration of agriculture, culinary arts and the local makers movement – all
staples of NY state’s rich history, and each thriving today. With backgrounds
in a range of fields in the food and design world, Chris Lanier and Dana
McClure aim to create a space that celebrates New York’s distinct seasonality.
Production was quite limited this year, but a few bottles are still left at the Whisper store.
Upstate Stock Upstate Stock is a New York city based American heritage accessories and knitwear brand that manufactures their goods in Upstate New York. Upstate Stock was born out of simple fact that American manufacturing of the highest quality is still out there, the same manufacturing from decades ago that is at a standard that very few countries can match.
Photographer and editor/curator Kate Orne digs deep into the creative landscape of the area and produces an alt take on the “at home” with artists, actors, and professional creatives in their rural environments. Beautifully photographed, the stories are accompanied by interviews that are personal and unpretentious. While reading, one forgets how famous and influential these subjects are. Both in print and on line Upstate Diary is the definitive publication which features and promotes its creators and ways of living.
Hudson Woods has teamed up with Whisper to create a furniture, design and retail installation that we’re calling “UPSTATE”. We have selected works from a number of our furniture maker partners and — along with notable guest curators — have scoured the Hudson Valley for beautifully designed home accessories and objects crafted by Upstate makers, artisans and manufacturers. The best part is that everything is for sale. Learn more about Whisper in T Magazine and Vogue.
We are joined in celebrating all things Upstate by Tesla Motors, who invite you to experience the Model S at the store entrance in the South Street Seaport.
A Big Thank You to Everyone Who is Participating
AndNorth, Andrew Bettles, Blackcreek Mercantile, Christina Kruse, Clare Richardson, Dan Martensen, Deborah Ehrlich, Dzierlenga F+U, Emma Tuccillo, Fern Handcrafted, Field Apothecary & Herb Farm, Hawkins New York, Kate Orne, Laetitia Hussain, Materia Designs, Meg Callahan, Mother New York, Ryan Roche, Samuel Moyer Furniture, Sawkille Co, Silk & Willow, Upstate Diary, Upstate Stock, USM, White Pike Whiskey, Workstead.
Arrowood Farm Brewery, Edible Hudson Valley, Esopus Magazine, Fruition Chocolate, Gabor Ruszan, Hetta Glögg, Upstate House, Hudson Valley Seed Library, Jay Teske Leather Co., Michael Robbins, Noble Handcrafted, Ravenwood, Sheila Metzner, Thornwillow Press, Tree Juice, Upstater, Wickham Solid Wood.
Two weeks ago at our Tesla event we invited celebrated local butcher Joshua Applestone to grill his insanely delicious hot dogs and sausages. Not a link was left by the end of the party, and we learned a great deal about the newly minted Applestone Meat Co., a butcher shop with a digital brain whose entrepreneurial ethos would impress even Tesla’s Elon Musk, and whose business plan echoes that of Seamless, Uber or Fresh Direct.
Josh and his wife Jessica are famously the founders of Fleisher’s Grass Fed & Organic Meats, in Kingston and Park Slope. They popularized the artisanal meat movement, reinvigorating the idea of a “butcher’s touch.” Now the Applestones have started a new venture that maintains the core values of local, sustainably raised meat, custom-cuts and house-made charcuterie while eliminating the storefront and delivering the product frozen to your home within a 90 mile range of Accord or making it available for pickup at any hour at 2 locations.
“People take for granted that they can get things for 24 hours. Retail is a bear… there’s a lot of moving parts, and we wanted to find the efficiencies,” says Jessica.
Their new headquarters is a state of the art USDA facility in Accord, which says Jessica, “is a giant cooler filled with fancy machines. Here they hand make a range of beef, lamb and pork products that that will delight any home chef, like Korean style short ribs, lamb and broccoli rabe sausages, dry-aged rib eyed steak, cheddar bratwurst, and spicy bacon hot dogs.
Thinking even more futuristically, Josh is installing “Meat-O-Mats” — which are exactly what they sound like — in their Accord and newly acquired Stone Ridge locations. He located a limited group of Italian made automat-esque refrigerated dispensaries that take credit cards. Originally designed for school cafeterias to make healthy lunches available, they will be re-tuned to serve the fresh meats. “We will have a big selection. You can come in 24/7 and get your burgers, hot dogs, steaks. If you order online, the machines will have your order in there.”
With only 2 employees, the Applestones are determined to be, well, lean, but aren’t looking to be impersonal. “People have a lot of questions when they order online, they’ll still call us to make sure they’re ordering the right thing or that we understand their order. They always have that personal connection and we enjoy it.” Lower overhead allows Applestone to sell highest quality meats to a broader customer base. “It is important for us to hit every market, particularly people who care about eating well.” For more, read this great interview, where Josh adds, We’re very lucky to be located in the Hudson Valley.
We are very pleased to tout this week the fact that Hudson Woods has been the number one trending listing on Brownstoner Upstate’s real estate section. It’s a testament to a resurgent interest that city dwellers have in experiencing rural life and to the newfound awareness of the myriad upstate towns and their particular personalities. Since early 2014, there has been an unprecedented burst of home sales activity that in the Hudson Valley, and particularly in our own Ulster county. On numerous blogs and in conversations with local realtors and interior designers, the consensus is that 2015 may be bigger than ever.
Jeff Serouya, a popular local realtor (and former city dweller) whose clients are largely city based tells us, “it was an unusually busy beginning of the year. When there’s a heavy winter, things tend to slow down. But early Spring is showing signs of it being maybe the busiest year in a long time, on top of what was a really good year last year.”
And interior designer Haynes Llewellyn, now based in Kingston, writes about real estate for Upstater.com and has clients spanning from Hudson Valley, down to the city and out to the Hamptons. He tells us “I think it’s become an investment, it’s because the prices are reasonable and that you can buy a house, renovate a house and still not spend as much as you’d spend in Manhattan. It’s beginning to have a great appeal.”
There is no single factor driving the activity. Says Haynes, “The perfect storm of real estate occurs when the forces of media, timing, and economy come into play,” (says/remarks Hanes). According to our conversations, these are some of the determining forces:
• Brooklyn buyers represent an increasingly large group looking upstate as an ideal escape from the city.
• Creatives especially have found value in the well priced properties and embrace the challenge of renovations and creating new spaces.Many move upstate while maintaining strong business ties to the city.
• The 20’s and 30’s (no need for possessives!) (what 20s and 30s?!) demographic more likely identify with a rural and Catskill life as an extension of their desire for authenticity, artisanship and craft. They gravitate towards towns like Phoenicia, Kingston, Red Hook and Beacon.
• The Hamptons have become foreboding with a tiresome commute, infamous traffic, and an atmosphere of general urban frenzy (need this?! Why mention this! why make people think about The Hamptons as they read this?).
• Gardening, farming, and locavore sensibility are at the heart of the (what experience? Hudson Woods?) experience, and with recent legislation encouraging small distilleries and breweries, there is officially a scene. Says Haynes, “we’re in the midst of a food revolution, and this region is one of its epicenters,” (says/observes/remarks Haynes).
Also quite notable is that it’s no longer the rule that buyers are looking for farmhouses and Dutch stone homes. Says Jeff (Jeff comments/remarks), “We were a destination for many many years for people looking for antique homes because we have a good supply of them. Now, we’re seeing an unprecedented demand for homes that incorporate true Modern design. The supply of these homes haven’t yet met the demand that we’re seeing from buyers who are specifically and only looking for high quality, modern, new construction,”(says/comments/remarks/observes Jeff).
Did you ever think of seeds the way you think about books? About 10 years ago, Ken Greene, made such a metaphorical leap, and started the country’s first seed lending system out of the Gardiner library, a stone’s throw from Hudson Woods. Then a masters student and part timer there, he saw “a lot of similarities between seeds and books. Seeds are stories that we’re passing on, they’re not just a commodity. They have cultural stories, they have genetic stories. I thought why don’t I take these seed stories, and put them in the library so that people could check out a seed the same way that they check out a book. And that would create more access and make sure that these stories stay alive.”
4 years into the project, he says “I wanted to be growing more seeds for the library, more variety, and higher quantity than what was coming back from members. So my garden had turned into a seed garden, and just kept getting bigger and bigger, and I started spending more time growing and less time at work at the library. At which point I said, Obviously I need to quit my job.” He and his partner Doug Muller both did just that and “jumped right in not knowing if it was going to work out financially or not.” The operation moved to a small farm property and former Ukrainian Catskill camp in Accord that is co-owned buy a group of friends.
Now, 6 years after that leap, The Hudson Valley Seed Library comprises three acres of seed cultivation, several trial gardens for traditional method breeding experiments, a robust online catalog business that offers over 400 varieties of vegetable, flower or herb seeds, all staffed by 10 full and part time staff and dozens of volunteers. A mission driven business, they use only organic growing methods, and are especially committed to preserving local varieties— “natives…. what grows well here in our community and actually contributes to the ecosystem.”
At the heart of the endeavor is, a devotion to perpetuating two types of seeds, heirloom and open-pollinated. Explains Ken, heirlooms “are varieties that are really old (at least 60 to 100 years), and that have been handed down from generation to generation. They’ve been around long enough so that their genetics are basically stable. They come with more value than just food stuff, they have personal stories, they have cultural stories.” One example is the Stone Ridge Tomato, a seed line donated by a local gardener, and that has been in his family for generations. “We are keeping that variety alive. And that’s something that only a small regional seed company would even be interested in doing.”
“Open-pollinated” encompasses newer seed varieties that have been cross bred to address modern needs like disease resistance and new flavor profiles. Their “openness” is actually comparable to the idea of open sourced computer code. Says Ken, “the open source movement in terms of technology has a lot of crossover with the work that I’m involved in with seeds. You can’t list the number of people involved over the last 10,000 years who have been involved in creating a variety, and so should we be able to patent that? Or should we be saying, this is the contribution of many people over a lot of time, therefore it should be accessible for anyone. If you have an idea and want to change it a little bit, go ahead and change it!”
Another “open sourced” project has been the unusual designs of the HVSL seed packs. Inspired by historical NY State seed catalogs, Ken first commissioned his artist friends to interpret the seed varieties using their mediums and perspectives. “When people look at our packs, I want them to think twice about what the seeds mean and to think about the growers’ story.” Every year now, an open call goes out for submissions, and this past year over 300 artists submitted artwork for the packs of 12 new varieties. An exhibition of the artworks has taken on a life of its own, travelling the country at displayed at such places as the NY Botanical Garden.
The Seed Library and “farm” is open in the late Spring through the Fall for visitors, but check ahead just to make the staff will be there. They also keep booths at both the Union Square and Grand Army farmer’s markets.
Ken’s advice for weekend gardeners? “The challenge is timing it so that you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. When you’re putting together your garden plan look at the number of days to maturity so that you can think will I be here when it matures?” “The other way is to think about succession sowing, which basically means instead of just doing one planting at the beginning of Spring, every time you come up, there will be something to harvest, and then you plant more and continue through the season.” And he reminds us, because of this past long winter, it’s still not too late to plant your peas, arugula, lettuce, kale, collards, and cabbages!
After commissioning a delightful brown ale from Arrowood Farms Brewery for our October gathering, we decided to look a little closer at this exciting operation unfolding just a stone’s throw from Hudson Woods.
In 2012, Governor Cuomo enacted New Farmer’s Grant Fund to encourage small scale agribusiness in New York State. We are fortunate to have two 20-something neighbors take the Farm Brewing Law seriously and turn their passion for food, farming and brewing into a reality.” Blake Arrowood, 28 and Jake Meglio, 26 have leased a 10 acre farm in Accord, applied for their farm brewery license, and set out to create what Blake calls the “idea of a home brewers garden on a commercial scale.”
Last Spring they planted an acre of 7 kinds of hops that will have their first yield this Fall. Why hops first? Says Blake, “It’s a really wonderful perennial plant you put in the ground and it comes back every year for the next 25 or 30 years.” It is also the signature ingredient in a beer. When you smell a beer, when you taste a beer, it’s the aroma, it’s what really gets your senses going about beer.” The “hop yard” looks like a trellis system where the vine-like hops will grow to 18 feet tall on each individual “bine.” They will use the hops in their own recipes and also distribute to local nano and micro breweries.
Hailing from North Carolina, Blake’s grandfather was a farmer and he grew up next to a farm. His inclination towards farming grew serious when he was teaching English in South Korea, and led his students to create community gardens. “I think it was in my blood a bit.” His partner Jake was born and raised upstate and has a college background in chemistry and biology. An autodidact brewer, “he sort of transferred that knowledge into the chemistry of brewing. He’s an avid reader, and its coming together really through the opportunity to do it.”
And then, there’s the ducks. About 75 ducks of varied heritage breeds mill around a custom installed duck pond and retreat every night to a series of brightly colored coops. At 9 a.m every morning, the farmers collect the eggs and distribute them to the High Falls Co-op. Duck eggs are quite large and considered terrific for baking. Says Blake, “they are creamier, richer, higher in HDL (the good cholesterol) and in Omega 3’s.” Their favorite preparation though is steam fried. “Let it steam in the pan covered for a few minutes until you get this really thin layer over the yolk. Add salt, pepper, and you’re good”.
As soon as the winter allows, they plan on breaking ground on a new barn near the hop yard that will house a state of the art brewing systems, a tasting room and (why not?) an outdoor beer garden. They want to soft open by this Fall, says Blake, “we want to be a community farm” and an event space where on weekends “you can bring the kids too. It’s not just have a drink, that’s part of the reason we wanted animals. To share that with everybody.”
With Westwind Orchard and Hollander Farm as next door neighbors and collaborators, they will have built in traffic and become quite a destination. Asked what excites him about the Hudson Valley, Blake replies, “Oh man, everything. No, honestly everything. When I came here it was like open arms. I just feel lucky I found it. It’s just warm and welcoming. It can happen here.”
When we think Hudson Valley skiing, we conjure the familiar Catskill hills close by— Belleayre, Windham and Hunter Mountain. But just adjacent Hunter in Tannersville, is a less well known but quite spectacular cross country ski park called Mountain Trails XC Ski Center. Set among 300 heavily wooded acres traversed by former logging trails, the facility has been lovingly preserved, maintained and improved by the Hyer Family since they purchased the property in 1978. We spoke with the Hyers to shed some more light.
Rosemary and Mark Hyer were avid skiers in the 60’s at Hunter Mountain in its early days. She was on the ski patrol, and he was a teacher at Hunter elementary who also coached the high school alpine racing team. They purchased a house on this magnificent property that happens to abut the town of Tannersville via a side road pasture. “We wanted to do something with the property where we weren’t going to overly develop it… and didn’t want to disrupt the land much because it’s really nice forest up there.” Deciding to open up the logging trails to cross country skiers, “was a way to keep the land the way it was.”
Since then with their three sons and a daughter participating in the business, they have opened more natural forest pathways and built a lodge that offers full service sales and rentals so that all can now access over 22 miles of 2 track trails for classic Nordic skiing and a growing number of skating lanes (for skate style Nordic). “Our grooming is really superior. We have just a really experienced team… it takes years of understanding different types of snow, the temperature and when to (groom).” There are trails for every skill level, and for the uninitiated, fear not, since the National Ski Patrol is always on hand to monitor the trails.
The Hyers say that what’s most unique about center is the woodsy setting. “It’s a different feel up here. You go into the area and step out with your skis, and you really feel like you’re in the middle of the forest.” This has earned them core group of long time customers and visits from avid Nordic skiers from all over the northeast. “They seem to like it because of the nature of our trail system and because our elevation is quite high, so the snow is usually better here.” And of course after one conquers the trails, they remind us, “Tannersville’s a great town.”
Our friends at the Style of Sport blog have also selected some choice items for the cross country skier woman and at Rock & Snow in New Paltz, men have these excellent options.
FISCHER MYSTIQUE MY STYLE CROSS COUNTRY SKIS. Designed for the fitness-oriented woman and ideal for groomed tracks, these skis have Wide Body Technology for enhanced stability and climbing performance.
FISCHER MY STYLE XC TOURING CROSS COUNTRY SKI BOOTS. Paired with the skis, these My Style Cross-Country Ski Boots are a great choice for recreational in-track skiing with extra insulation to protect against the cold
THE NORTH FACE WOMEN’S THERMOBALL VEST. A signature North Face piece in shimmery silver. The contoured fit flatters the body so you look great out in the cold too.
PATAGONIA NANO-AIR HOODY. Warm, stretchy and extremely breathable, the Nano-Air Hoody sets a new standard for technical insulation. Merging the comfort and breathability of open fleece, with the protection and warmth of a puffy, this is the perfect jacket for all your winter sports
DALE OF NORWAY HEMSEDAL SWEATER JACKET. Since 1879 Dale of Norway has been making classic Norwegian sweaters, the iconic look of Nordic skiing. Men, included in next doc
FISCHER SC COMBI SKIS. Whether skating or classic style, this entry level model is fast and offers fun on the tracks.
FISHER XC PRO BOOTS. The entry level boot for extensive tours: with cover flap and practical entry aid nothing can get in the way of comfort in the snow.
SWIX MEN’S STAR JACKET. Light microfiber warm up and training jacket with stretch panels in back, sides, elbows and underarms for better movement and breathability.Water resistant ipod pocket with cable exit and loop for headphones.
RAB MEN’S STRATA HOODIE. The Strata range is very much designed as active warmth and these garments are meant to be used when moving quickly in cold conditions. The Strata Hoodie works as an outer layer in cold and dry conditions but can equally be layered under a shell should conditions dictate.
RAB MEN’S WINTERTREK PANT. A combination of heavy and mid weight Matrix DWS stretch double weave soft shell to provide wind and water resistance and high durability for mountain use in cooler conditions.
Since we launched this past summer many people have inquired about renting at Hudson Woods but since we aren’t currently renting out the model house, we wanted to provide some insights about the rental market in our area both for homeowners and those looking for short term getaways.
There has long been a concise but consistent pocket of repeat seasonal and weekend renting in our neck of the Hudson Valley. Now the market is evolving rapidly. As “short term rental” facilitators (think Home Away, AirBnB, Red Cottage, and most recently, onefinestay) become more predominant it’s easier for full-time homeowners and second homeowners to list their properties for weekend, monthly and even seasonal rentals.
“Renters have a strong need to get away from city stimulation and seek only the sounds of crickets and peepers and the light of the moon and fireflies,” says Helen Coyle Bergstein, owner of Nest Realty.
A pool is quite important for the full summer season, and her clients love swimming holes like Vernooy Kill Falls or Awosting Lake. The early weeks of Fall are very busy, as are Thanksgiving and December holidays. In the winter, the proximity to Belleayre, Windham and Hunter ski areas are the draw, and renters look for a home with a wood burning stove and (throw back!) a hot tub.
She estimates a typical summer rental with a pool in the area is in the $25,000 range. In other seasons, rates are in the $450 per night for 6 people. “Seasonal renters are usually more than one family. It’s likely that they’ll want it every year.”
Just in the last two years, the Hudson Valley has seen a boom of short term rentals because “the internet is ramping up,” says realtor Eric Bean, “and I’ve seen a couple higher end rentals start to pop up.” Often while showing potential buyers high end properties, “we do have a (rental) conversation, and over 90% of the time it’s ‘is the place AirBnB-able and what is the rate?’”
He notes that his clients whose taste in decor and furnishing is a “little more sophisticated,” have great success with New York renters. “It has to do with how it looks. For a New York buyer, the country cabin is ‘cute’, but when they see something glossy, they tend to gravitate towards that.” Eric is optimistic about the burgeoning market and how it will encourage more high-end properties to open up their doors to visitors.
Perhaps there’s no greater proof of the area’s appeal than onefinestay’s recent beta launch of their vacation home “portfolio” in the Hudson Valley. The London based hospitality service looks for properties with space, character and comfort and whose owners have interesting personalities. John Carter, Market Manager for the Hudson Valley at onefinestay, says: “Over the past 5 years the Hudson Valley has experienced a renaissance as one of the truly cool and authentic places to be in the New York area. Many of our hosts come from the creative world – artists, designers, architects – and their Hudson Valley homes serve as mediums for creative expression, making each home in our portfolio unique and full of character.” onefinestay take care of marketing and insurance, cleaning and preparing their hosts’ homes, and welcoming guests. Guests enjoy pristine sheets, towels and toiletries a curated selection of the owners’ local recommendations. And the onefinestay team are on hand 24/7 by phone. Below we have singled out some of our favorite homes listed with onefinestay….
We have long been admirers of the brilliant Irving Farm Coffee shops, not least because they are a unique presence in the Hudson Valley in “sleepy” Millerton, New York, 30 miles due east (well, by crow) from the Hudson Woods site. So much so, that Hudson Woods will offer a whole year’s of their coffee to our buyers. We spoke with John Summerour—who has the unusual title of “dream catcher” at the company— about what makes Irving Farm so different from the bright constellation of high end, specialty coffee operations.
in 1996, long before the current trend of coffee connoisseur one upmanship emerged, David Elwell and Steve Leven opened 52 Irving Place Café in Gramercy park to begin experimenting in the idea of hand crafted coffee. When city dwellers were generally drinking bagel cart coffee in Greek paper cups, David and Steve made the café an experiment where they strived to constantly improve every aspect of the coffee experience — source, roast, and brew — all the while becoming quite aware that the future in coffee was going to be in specialty drinks and barista service.
The result of that dedication made 52 Irving very popular, and part of enjoying that success meant spending weekends upstate where they “fell in love with Dutchess county,” and they made a pact, “Let’s get a house upstate, so that we have a place that we can share with our respective partners and build a foundation for a life outside the city.” They purchased a 110 acre dairy farm in Millerton started renovating the house and the landscape themselves.
In about 1999 their main bean supplier encouraged them to roast their own coffee to allow them to better explore quality and flavor. So the converted an existing old barn on the property into their primary roasting facility. “They got it all tricked out to roast the beans there. They were ahead of the “farm to table” movement and were just following where their interests were. They’re both really into self education, figuring things out how to make things happen, getting their hands dirty.” With that mentality, they experimented with beans and roasting formulas, adapting per their obsessive patrons’ praise and criticism. Their multi origin blends were a hit and won a slew of high profile wholesale customers like City Bakery, Petrossian, Gramercy Tavern and long term partner Blue Hill.
They hired a full time master roaster and plant manager, Clyde Miller, to run the facility, and he started gravitating towards smaller-batch single-origin coffees. “They had always set up relationship with reputable wholesalers and distributors, but was time to really invest in someone who is our exclusive green coffee buyer and some who is passionate about sustainability and about helping farmers.”
They appointed Coffee Director Dan Streetman to travel the world to look for farmers with whom he could develop personal relationships and invest in their operations. Says John, “he really has been super instrumental in transforming our company. He has brought on a new level of coffee enthusiast and coffee expert who given the whole company a renewed sense of what we are doing. He loves the farmers and he is so respected in the industry.” For example while visiting “Honduras, we had farmers who we’ve been buying from since 2011.
This past year, their crop was totally devastated by the coffee rust. They were going to have to tear up the farm and replant, taking 5 years for them to have beans again. The farmers were really nervous that Dan was going to leave them and abandoned them, but Dan sat with them and talked for hours. “I am invested in this farm getting back on it’s feet,” He committed to replanting, salvaging any of the old plants and giving them his word that he would be back as soon as they had a new crop.
“That’s the kind of long term commitment Dan has to the farmers he works with.” Now the company is building a 7200 sq foot, state of the art roasting facility in Millerton. Even though it will be 7 times the size, it will be more efficient, with a roaster that uses 85% less fuel, radiant heat and composting for chaff and other organic materials. It will be open soon for touring, education, coffee cupping (tasting) and most importantly will employ “a lot of people who are skilled and can carry on the tradition of what we started.”
Irving Farm now has three new locations in the city and a thriving wholesale business and now employs about 80 people, a quarter of them in the Hudson Valley. While they’re no threat to Starbucks, says John, “what we all agree with is that what we we’re building is a family and were really interested in not just the details of coffee as a commodity, but in creating a business model where employees have somewhere to go; they have room for growth. “There is a sense within Irving Farm that we’re doing really well and we have something special on our hands and so there’s no need to copy what anyone else is doing. We’re interested in maintaining that slow steady growth that we have already been organically doing for the last 20 years.”
Many of you who attended the launch party have asked us about who was responsible for the brilliant barbecue, the refreshing summer beers, and the decadent pies and ice cream. We are happy to share the sources with you, especially since they are all Hudson Valley enterprises and part of the local fabric.
So that barbecue that was so unbelievably good is from the lads at Brotherly Grub BBQ, a new project by the progeny of the Schoonmaker family who own and run Saunderskill Farms & Markets. Since they are operating in pop up mode at the moment, follow them on Facebook to see where they will turn up next: https://www.facebook.com/brotherlygrubbbq
Speaking of Saunderskill, we, sourced our pies and cookies from their bakery. We love Saunderskill enough to offer our first 7 buyers $1000 gift certificates to start loading up their pantries. http://www.saunderskill.com
Larry Scott of Mill House Brewery in Poughkeepsie “curated” the two refreshing beers that were so well received: 1) the PK Pale- an American Pale Ale that stays true to it’s roots by keeping the hops in check. 2) the Kold One- their take on a classic German style that quenches the thirst with a crisp noble hop finish. http://www.millhousebrewing.com
Doc’s Draft hard ciders are produced in Warwick Winery, deep in the farming community of Sullivan County. It’s a beautiful facility that caters to its visitors. http://www.wvwinery.com
And lastly Jane’s ice cream from Kingston is made from fresh, local and organic products. It seems to be catching on down state as well and is served in many of NYC’s finest hotels and restaurants, such as The Regency, The Carlysle,The Algongquin and Sak’s Fifth Avenue. http://www.janesicecream.com
We’d also like to give BMW a big thank you for providing the i3 fully electric car during the event. As part of our commitment to a conscientious and eco-friendly lifestyle it’s important that we utilize sustainable means of travel between the model home, areas in the Hudson Valley and New York City.
All photographs and artist's renderings are for representational and promotional purposes only. Not all items depicted in artist's renderings are included in the purchase price of a home. All layouts and calculations are approximate and may vary. Plans shown represent model unit and are indicative of base house. Actual configuration may vary to suit site conditions of individual lots. All dimensions are approximations and subject to normal construction variances and tolerances. Square footage exceeds the usable floor area. Prices shown refer to the base home and do not include any optional or custom features and all prices, availability, designs and specifications may change without notice.
Please consult the seller's sales personnel for specific price information for each home site and optional and custom features. All information provided herein is from sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or representation is made as to the accuracy thereof and same is submitted subject to errors, omissions, change of price or other conditions, prior sale, lease or withdrawal without notice.
THIS IS NOT AN OFFERING. ALL TERMS OF SALE ARE CONTAINED IN THE SALES AND PURCHASE AGREEMENT FOR AN INDIVIDUAL HOME EXECUTED BY SELLER AND AN APPROVED PURCHASER.
We are pledged to the letter and the spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing op portunity throughout the Nation. We encourage and support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin.
These materials (c) Ridgewood Eco-Homes LLC. All copyrights, trademarks and service marks are the property of Ridgewood Eco-Homes LLC and may not be used without the permission of Ridgewood Eco-Homes LLC.