Local Ag

Innovative farm market opens at Stone Ridge Orchard


Coming to Rondout Valley this Memorial Day weekend – and every Sunday after that – is a brand new market that its founder hopes will become a weekly celebration of food and community. The Stone Ridge Farmers and Makers Market will showcase a variety of vendors and their unique selection of handcrafted and farm fresh products that highlight the very best of the Hudson Valley. Elizabeth Ryan of Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider and Stone Ridge Orchard is hosting and organizing the market, taking place at Stone Ridge Orchard on Sundays rain or shine from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. through Dec. 18. Opening day will happen Sunday, May 29, and feature a ribbon-cutting by the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce. Ryan, an award-winning, lifelong farmer and cider master who now operates six farms, has been founding and selling at markets for decades and says that being on private property will provide crucial amenities and allow management and vendors more flexibility.

“Most markets, you get in the truck and drive for hours to sell for a few hours in a parking lot with no bathroom, water or electricity and no storage or infrastructure, no opportunity to cook or prepare anything on site,” she says. “And even under the current conditions, farmers markets are our modern day agora, the center of the community where you get to see neighbors and hear the latest. Doing this on my own farm allows us to expand the concept and offer the opportunity to other vendors to evolve farmers market 2.0 together. “

The on-site processing and demonstration kitchen will be run by chef Charles Cameron, a Catskills native who graduated the Culinary Institute in 1995 and spent a couple of decades cooking at Florida hotels and resorts. “I’ve always been interested in farm-to-table food,” Cameron says. “I grew up a little past Woodstock, going to farmers markets in little Catskills villages, and to be back around that energy is amazing.” Ryan and Cameron hope to begin offering farm breakfasts and farm-to-table pasta along with strawberry-rhubarb pies and “quiche from our very own eggs,” Ryan says.

Being located on private property also means the market will be able to welcome home gardeners as well as foragers and their findings “It’s the end of the season for ramps and fiddleheads, and we’ll have native watercress,” says Ryan. “There may or may not be mushrooms; mushrooms are unpredictable. And we have an absolutely terrific meat guy coming.”

Ryan’s also excited to be welcoming certified organic wares from Hepworth Farms in Marlboro. “Amy (Hepworth) and I were classmates at Cornell, and her family’s been in farming for 200 years; she grew up in this work. My own mother grew up on a farm in Iowa through the Depression; I spent summers there, and I saw the transition from a diversified family farm where they could make everything they needed to 6,000 acres of corn and wheat.”

Though her mother never romanticized the profession (“They had no water or electricity; it was a massive workload. She used to say, ‘We made our own soap, and it wasn’t very nice,’” recalls Ryan), the whole experience fueled a passion for keeping farms alive. To that end, she says, she’s made “significant investments” – her newest purchase is Adair Vineyards in New Paltz.

“We have a 100-year plan and we’re committed to saving farms, keeping local agriculture vibrant, participatory, expansive, delicious and sustainable, and embracing the entire food chain,” Ryan says. “We also plan to expand our involvement with food pantries; we want to make sure surplus goes to people who need it.”

Plans for themed markets include a grain market, sheep and wool, permaculture and a June celebration of women in agriculture. Monthly events will highlight various foods, with special guest chefs taking to the prep kitchen to demonstrate delectable dishes. And Ryan is hoping that potential vendors will enjoy having storage and prep facilities on site – not to mention bathrooms, water, electricity and flexible management. “We hope to relieve some of the pressure that the typical farmers market puts on vendors,” she says. “We founded the first Hudson Valley market in Millbrook and got them started in several other towns; now it’s time to take the concept to the next level.”

The market is co-sponsored by the Hudson Valley Center for Food & Agriculture, a collective endeavor founded by Ryan that is “fiercely dedicated to saving farms, creating community, uplifting the hands that grow our food and preserving our planet and the astonishing ecosystem that supports us.”

“We kid around and say we want to save everything – even the humans,” says Ryan. “We have a 100-year plan.”

Stop over on May 29 for a cup of great coffee and a slice of pie, and/or to enjoy the onsite cidery’s offerings and stock your larder for the week. For more information or to become a vendor, call 845-687-2587 or visit srfmm.com.

Stone Ridge Orchard Stone Ridge ciders Apple farms New York Farm Markets Ulster County