21st Century Farms That Welcome Visitors

The Town of North East has been farm country since it was first settled by Europeans well before the Revolutionary War. With a variety of valley soils layered on epochs of mountain erosion and more recent glacial till, sections of level land, good rainfall, and numerous year-round spring- and mountain-fed streams, the area lent itself from the start to sizable, productive farmsteads of a hundred or more acres. They were Initially subsistence farms with some local sales of grain, poultry, beef, and pork. The coming of the railroad in the 1850s and the birth of Millerton, a station stop and siding, turned farmers into dairymen who shipped their milk either to New York City or to the Borden condensed-milk plant at the station. So it was for a hundred years or so, until trucks replaced the railroad and the count of local dairy farms fell from three dozen to the present handful.  Still, the farmsteads have remained, with empty cow barns but fields sown in feed corn, alfalfa, hay, straw, and lately barley, and some converted painstakingly to organic production.

Today, farming in North East is richly diversified, with addition of variety of modest operations that include small herds of specialty beef cattle, sheep raising for fleece and meat, cheesemaking from goats and sheep, gourmet lettuces, free-range poultry and egg farming, apiaries, orchards, and horse stables. Much of this new production is organic to NOFA standards. Their markets extend from local stands and commercial customers to some of New York City’s best restaurants.

A few of these farms are open to agritourism, with scheduled tours and certain festivals celebrated depending on a farm’s harvest and inclinations. Here’s a starter list, all within a short drive of Millerton:

Chaseholm Farm Dairy & Creamery: Practicing regenerative agriculture. Grass-fed animals; raw milk, yogurt, cheese; beef; whey-fed pork; charcuterie with sausages, cured meats; farm store; farm tours in summer.  website

Dashing Star Farm: Organic sheep, goose, and chicken farm; eggs, lamb, wool, and beautiful wool products; farm visits not available until the pandemic is over: order by website and arrange curbside pickup via email: website

Daisey Hill Farm: Family friendly with pens of farm animals for visiting, a great resource for plants of all kinds, veggies in season, the best eating corn in the area, pumpkins and gourds in the fall, wreaths and greens and trees for the holidays: website

Herondale Farm: Free-range pasture-fed beef, pork, chickens, and eggs without antibiotics or hormones. Monthly shares through a meat CSA. Farm store with Herondale meats, produce from nearby farms, and baked goods.  website

McEnroe Organic: A large organic farm, store and rustic restaurant, with tours, programs, events; also compost and topsoil; organic turkeys for Thanksgiving. website

Rocksteady Farm & Flowers: Focused on weekly community-share agriculture (CSA) from its own harvest and that of neighboring farms, Rocksteady is a cooperative farm dedicated to social justice and sustainable agriculture. Has programs. website

Silamar Farm: A venerable farm run by the Schroeder family since 1962, these days focused on its lovely farm store with farm-raised, local, and regional fruits and vegetables, eggs, cheeses, breads, baked goods, flowers, and wide variety of spring potted plants, with a fresh ice cream counter.  Route 22 just south of Millerton. 

Willow Brook Farm: Dairy, cattle, pork, and vegetable farm. Pasture-fed, grain-finished Wagyu-Black Angus cattle; pigs who enjoy whole milk from the farm’s dairy cows, no additional hormones or antibiotics; cured and smoked meats; farm tours by time or arrangement; farm store. website

In addition, two robust farmers markets available year-round: Amenia Farmers Market (website) and Millerton Farmers Market (website).