Millerton Earth Day

The 2023 theme was “Get Your Green On”.  The largest fair to date, ED2023 featured green vendors, local partners, advice on sustainability, and kitemaking for kids.  Encore events extended the day with a concert, biodiversity film/Q&A, and kids craft afternoon.  Click here for pictures and recap of the 2023 Earth Day Fair.

Harlem Valley Rail Trail

Healthy Communities Need Connections

Since the first section was completed in the 1990s, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail has been a boon to the area. While a New York State resource, it was started with U.S. Highway Department funds during the Clinton administration. In Dutchess County The Rail Trail is leased and maintained by the County. In Columbia County it is state-owned and maintained by the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. (Much of the land, for the record, was acquired by the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association and donated to the state.) Yet none of this really matters to the users, who come from all over. It welcomes walkers, bikers, skaters—any form of mobility as long as it is human-powered (unicycle anyone?)—from anywhere, domestic and foreign. Trail parking lots are no strangers to cars from Connecticut and Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

All this motorized travel would seem contrary to the purpose. Not at all. Safe, stimulating outdoor facilities for exercise are far from common, and Rail Trails that are both quite rural and in reach of lots of people are rarer still. Perhaps travelers will be so inspired by their experiences in the Harlem Valley that they’ll create something similar back home.

In autumn 2020, the Rail Trail finally connected the original paved section from the Wassaic train station of Metro North through Amenia, Sharon Station, and Coleman Station to Millerton, a 10.7-mile run through farm fields, meadows, forests, and wetlands, to a 4.9-mile section mostly through New York’s Taconic State Park. This new 7.9-mile piece is some of the loveliest rail trail anywhere, traversing a dozen wildlife habitats that change season to season and an astonishing complex of marshes and ponds, often within view of the ancient, steep, tree-covered Taconic Range to the east.

Next, and the last piece for a while, will be a bridge over Route 22, connecting a final 2.2-mile paved stretch into the village of Hillsdale to the main body of the Trail. This could still occur in calendar year 2021. At the other end, also in 2020, Amenia and the Hamlet of Wassaic cooperated to build a spur down from the Wassaic station about a mile to the hamlet, which has taken on new life as home to the Wassaic Project, an art center and creative community founded in 2008. The total Trail, once the Route 22 bridge opens, will be 27.27 miles. 

Connections are the root of what gives life meaning and fulfillment. They are the difference between human and humane. They make existence sustainable. Soon five small places—Hillsdale, Copake Falls, Millerton, Amenia, Wassaic—will have one significant thing in common, an address on the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. They are connected again, as they were when the New York Central Railroad’s Harlem Division plied the corridor, but quieter, at a personal scale, and available to all. 

See for a map and other info, maintained by the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association. To contribute or volunteer, visit the website. 

Rendering of the Rail Trail bridge that will span Route 22, connecting Hillsdale with Copake Falls and points south.

NECC Millerton Farmers Market

Bringing Small-scale Farmers, Makers, and Bakers Together with Nutrition-minded Consumers

The Millerton Farmers Market has been operating since 2007, when the idea was proposed by Karen Kisslinger, a local acupuncturist, organic gardener, and meditation teacher who also ran a program at the North East Community Center (NECC) called “Partners for Children.” Karen, who was married to local physician Robert Dweck, had been nurturing and nourishing the community for many years. She saw the need to promote local farms and healthy food sources and she approached then Executive Director Jenny Hansell who, it turns out, had experience with Greenmarkets in NYC. Jenny added teen interns in farming and marketing to the mix.  Sadly, Karen passed away in 2009, but her legacy lives on.

Starting with six farmers and local musician Charlie Keil playing trombone, the market has grown to as many as 20 vendors at the peak of a season on the grounds of the Millerton Methodist Church. It developed into a vital village gathering place for local residents, an outlet for local farmers and food producers, an educational opportunity for youth, and a place for visitors to buy and eat fresh, locally grown produce. The market became a participant in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program to serve EBT/SNAP users, Senior Citizens, and WIC program participants. In 2015, a weekly Winter Market was established indoors where it continues to thrive when the snow falls.  

Local farms provide not only nutritious food and scenic beauty but also soil conservation, employment, educational opportunities, and a sense of community.  We lose farmland each year to private purchase and land development. If this continues unabated we’ll need to rely on big agricultural food sources thousands of miles away grown with the use of pesticides, GMO’s or other harmful methods affecting our health and the environment.

A goal of the Millerton Farmers Market is to promote food that is free from chemical fertilizers and pesticides. While it’s not necessary to be organic-certified, farmers are expected to follow organic methods that maintain sustainability. Farmers on site provide information and answer questions regarding their specific growing practices.

The weekly Market is a community magnet. Participants enjoy kids activities, cooking demonstrations, contests, live music performances, and special events like “Dog Day” or “Romp and Read.”  Local artisans sell high-quality art and crafts. Prepared foods are available for ready consumption or to take home. Finally, the market makes space available for local non-profit organizations to engage with people one on one or perform a civic good such as register new voters. Karen would be proud.

Eddie Collins Revamp (Millerton Memorial Field)

The Village of Millerton has embarked on an effort to revitalize Eddie Collins Memorial Park, a 17-acre recreation area just north of the Village on Route 22. The Park is a beloved community asset and has been at the heart of Town and Village life for decades but had fallen into disrepair.    A complete overhaul is well underway led by former Village Trustee, Stephen Waite, and guided by a volunteer committee of Village and Town residents. 

The park’s redesign embraces green technologies for its facilities and storm drainage as well as accessibility for those with physical disabilities. It now has a regulation-sized soccer field, two basketball courts, an expanded playground and historic Little League Field that will have night lighting in the future.  Space is being sought for two pickle ball courts.

Phase 1 of the master plan was completed in the fall of 2022.  Fundraising for Phase 2: a swimming pool and pool house is underway.  To learn more about the project, visit

Who Was Eddie Collins?

Eddie Collins

Eddie “Cocky” Collins, a Hall of Fame ball player, considered by some the finest second baseman in baseball history, played in the majors from 1907 to 1930 for two teams, the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago White Sox, then coached, managed, and was a controversial general manager of the Boston Red Sox. Collins was born in Millerton May 2, 1887 and died in 1951 in Boston. In 1963, Millerton paid tribute to their hometown hero by naming the park after Collins and installing the signature brick arch that remains in place today.

Master Plan for the park.


Millerton Pollinator Garden

Native Plants Welcome Bees and Birds in Millerton Garden

The Village of Millerton is doing its part to make sure that its birds and bees have a welcome local home of their own. There’s a wonderful little garden right next to the Post Office on Century Boulevard filled with native plants birds and bees will pollinate, lay eggs on, and gain sustenance from their nectar, insects, and other delectables. Stop by and take a close look. 

Aside from beautiful flowers, pay attention to the insects buzzing around and other creatures who are visiting. Maybe you’ll see Monarch butterfly caterpillars nibbling on Milkwood leaves, or a Ruby-throated Hummingbird probing blossoms for nectar.

Many thanks to the North East/Millerton Conservation Advisory Commission, and to all of the donors of materials and time, for this wonderful addition to the biodiversity of our community!

Why Native?

The Millerton-North East Pollinator Garden has been planted entirely with native shrubs and perennials. This is because natives provide more food choices and shelter for our birds and insects. To survive, insects and birds need plants that have co-evolved with them in the same environment. Nursery plants often come from other countries. Many have leaves that are not edible to local insects and caterpillars. Says the Audubon Society, “With 96 percent of all terrestrial bird species in North America feeding insects to their young, planting insect-proof exotic plants is like serving up plastic food. No insects? No birds”—and no pollination.

For example, more than 550 different species of butterflies and moths are supported by native oak trees, while the nonnative ginkgo supports only five, insect researcher Doug Tallamy learned. Caterpillars are the main food source for many migrant and resident birds alike. In the 16 days between hatching and fledging, Tallamy found, a clutch of Carolina Chickadee chicks are supplied by their parents with more than 9,000. The insects lucky enough not to get eaten become pollinators and ultimately produce food and beauty for us humans.

If you like to have birds around, plant natives. (See below for sources.) An Audubon study of suburban properties in Pennsylvania found “eight times more Wood Thrushes, Eastern Towhees, Veeries, and Scarlet Tanagers (all species of conservation concern) in yards with native plantings as compared with yards landscaped with typical alien ornamentals.” 

Natives also help insects and birds withstand the dangers of climate change by providing a familiar home, a place to rest, to lay eggs, to eat, and to pupate. Nonnative species don’t offer the same protection and may even be toxic. 

A Little About Bees

While birds and bats pollinate flowers and flowering trees,  insects are the largest group of pollinators. They include bees and wasps. They consume pollen, meanwhile carrying the pollen that clings to them from flower to flower where it falls off, giving the new flowers the genetic material they need to reproduce and generate new seeds in the form of fruits and nuts all of nature can consume, including us. 

Honeybees are not native to North America; they were brought here by early settlers from Europe and are now so well integrated in our ecosystem they might as well be home-grown. Bumblebees are native; they have about 50 species North America. Many other bees are native. They tend to be termed solitary because they live alone and not together in hives or nests. They pollinate about 80 percent of all flowering plants. 

There are some 4,000 species of native bees. Here are some of the largest categories:

Bumble bees: These are large and furry, black with stripes of yellow, white or light orange. They are more social than other solitary bees, live in small colonies with a queen and workers in a nest in the ground.

Miner bees: These are medium to large in size, mostly dark, black, reddish or metallic blue, yellow or red and yellow. They are active in early spring when favorite flowers are in bloom such as azaleas, which honey bees cannot pollinate. They nest in the ground.

Mason and leaf-cutter bees: These are dark-colored or blue, carry pollen on their abdomens not on their back legs where most pollinating insects do. Mason bees make mud nets in early spring, before the honey bees emerge. Leaf-cutters makes nests by cutting holes in leaves to extract building material in summer and early fall. Their nests are above ground. 

Sweat bees: These are quite small and shiny metallic green, blue copper, or gold, and so called because they are attracted to perspiration. They nest in holes of wood or hollow twigs.

While most bees and wasps can sting, they do so only when startled or to protect their queen. If one lands on you, be still. Enjoy observing. Soon it will fly away, its curiosity satisfied. Yours, it is hoped, will be stimulated.

If you would like to help with the Pollinator Garden email Mary Lynn Kalogeras at Or just come by for a short or extended look. All are welcome!



Monarch catepillar enjoying the milkweed last fall.

Examples of four bee natives, clockwise from top left: bumblebee, seat, miner, and mason and leaf-cutter.