Leave No Stone Barns Unturned


The Hudson River Valley is a welcome reprieve to many New York dwellers who want a break from the chaos of the city. So yesterday a few other Audubon staffers and I ventured there to visit a place that’s impossible to find within the confines of the urban metropolis: a farm.


Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is not just any farm, as Rene Ebersole explained on the pages of Audubon in the spring of 2007 (“Happy Meals,” March-April). It’s also a nonprofit organization focused on promoting community-based food production. Started by David Rockefeller in honor of his wife, Peggy, an American agriculture activist who passed away, the center helps educate people about sound agricultural practices that can benefit people and the environment. 


As our guide, Rebecca Sherman, showed us around the grounds, we got a taste (literally) of some of the fresh, organic produce that supplies Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a restaurant located in what used to be the farm’s dairy barn, and Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan where Dan Barber is chef and co-owner.

In the fields are not only crops, but also sheep, pigs, chickens, and turkeys. There we spoke with farmer Jack Algiere and his team who were planting garlic. The various types will sprout a few inches high, stop when the colder weather sets in and the sun stays low in the sky, and start again with warmer weather and more hours of sunlight. 


Our tour ended with greenhouse manager Shannon Algiere (Jack’s wife), who let us forage a bit while clearing a bed in the minimally heated structure. Bok choy, a assortment of lettuces, chicory, carrots, and beets are just a few of the plants thriving there.

After five years, the center has accomplished a lot, but continues to make improvements. This year, they planted newly acquired heirloom varieties and reduced their energy imprint. “There are a lot of great stories behind our food,” said Sherman.



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