DoNorth

Three Amazing Down to Earth Farm Vacations

Sitting on the back deck, watching the cattle graze in the huge field while guitar riffs and melodic voices drifted in the summer breeze, I found no better relaxing farm experience than at Conroy’s Organics’ annual Barbecue Nights.

Conroy’s Organics

Sitting on the back deck, watching the cattle graze in the huge field while guitar riffs and melodic voices drifted in the summer breeze, I found no better relaxing farm experience than at Conroy’s Organics

Conroy's

Like any other farm, huge hay bales are a common sight at Conroy’s Organics. (DoNorth/Claire Durham)

annual Barbecue Nights. For the third year in a row, Barbeque Nights is where to spend summer evenings every Thursday starting in July. At the hard-to-miss store at 8173 U.S. 9, West Chazy New York, the public can try buffalo, elk and pork products, says Mary Bushey, who owns Conroy’s Organics store with her husband Steven.

Barbeque Nights may be new – but the farm definitely is not. Conroy’s farm has been around since 1860. It went from sheep to dairy to crops. Now, it focuses more on showcasing its organic vegetables and grass-fed beef at local farmers markets.

The food gained a following. In 2004, the Conroys opened Conroy’s Organics, a retail store next to the farmland. Visitors will find more than just veggies there. How about homemade pie and local wine? A full-service cafe, producing everything from soups to breakfast sandwiches, gives guests an opportunity to experience bursting fresh flavors from products that were made just minutes ago.

After ordering, anyone can sit down in the spacious café, brightly lit by surrounding windows or, if the weather permits, on the back deck enjoying the summer sun. The delectable dishes my family and I chose to order were cooked right in front of us on a couple huge grills. We snagged a table by the grill where the sweet aroma of portobello mushroom burgers and elk wafted to our noses. It didn’t take long for our plates to appear in front of us, complete with pasta salads and other sides like chips. Mary says the most popular product from the farm is grass-fed beef, while from the store it’s pasteurized and organic meats and wild-caught fish and produce. The food available at the store either comes from Conroy’s farm directly or the local area, giving other local farms exposure.

Dakin Farm

Smoke rises up from the smoldering corncobs at the bottom of the wooden barrel, curling around the sausages and bacon slices. Spiral sliced hams combine with Vermont maple syrup creating a fire-tinted taste with a hint of sugar. Recognized nationally in publications such as Ladies Home Journal and on television shows like the Food Network, Dakin Farm in Ferrisburg, Vermont, proudly proclaims “What Vermont Tastes Like.”

Visitors coming to the farm to buy natural products can be assured that what they are buying is not

chemically grown. “Buy something that’s local, see the product in the field, see that they’re well-treated,” Mary says.

Behind the deep red facade of the farm is 200 years of farming history. (DoNorth/Claire Durham)

Behind the deep red facade of the farm is 200 years of farming history. (DoNorth/Claire Durham)

The Cutting family continues the maple-sugaring, cheese-aging, butter-making heritage that started over 200 years ago. Because maple was the original owners’ specialty, Sam Cutting IV, Dakin Farm President, learned traditional techniques such as smoking ham and bacon over corncobs, a regional specialty.  “People would come back for the bacon and ham,” says Sam Cutting IV, “and then people from out of state, tourists that were traveling from Boston, Connecticut and New York, would try it and love it.”

Visitors today can stop by the roadside farm in Ferrisburg or the satellite store in South Burlington across from the University Mall and taste numerous samples ranging from maple syrup to relish to cob-smoked cheese. The original Dakin Farm location offers live product demonstrations and a history film showing the farm’s beginning — back when little wooden smokehouses replaced the barrel. This long-standing farm drips with history and entices visitors with its locally sourced ingredients from Vermont creameries Cabot and Jasper Hill. It really is what Vermont tastes like.

Asgaard Farm

In the heart of the Adirondacks is a picturesque white-painted farmhouse surrounded by grassy fields and dark-blue mountains. This was once home to renowned artist Rockwell Kent, who is known for his illustrations in a classic edition of “Moby Dick” and paintings of his Adirondack farm, Asgaard — “farm of the gods” in Norse.

The farm now belongs to Rhonda and David Butler, originally from New York City. They raise goats so naturally, their most popular product is goat cheese. Visitors can try a range of free samples from

Cattle roam around Asgaard Farm. (DoNorth/Claire Durham)

Cattle roam around Asgaard Farm. (DoNorth/Claire Durham)

“Fresh Chevre,” a smooth and creamy mild cheese that can be flavored with Adirondack maple syrup and spices like cilantro and hot peppers, to “Barkeater Buche,” a soft-ripened cheese.

During the summer, the farm is bustling with female baby goats as milking replacements. Summertime is also the farm’s busiest time of year, especially between the Fourth of July and Columbus Day.

Visitors can book overnight stays at the farm. A minimum two-night stay is required to reserve, and travelers can stay however long they want. Guests can grill food provided by the farm on warm summer nights, participate in some of the farm work first-hand and gain knowledge about the agricultural practices involved with healthy food.

If you can’t make it to the farm, Asgaard’s products are available at three local farmers markets during the summer: Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Keene. Customers at Green Goddess in Lake Placid can enjoy Asgaard Farm’s homemade goat caramels. In Healthy Living in Saratoga, the North Country Food Co-Op in Plattsburgh and Honest Weight Food Co-Op in Albany, handcrafted goat milk soaps can be found in scents ranging from lavender to honey. Whether you walk the dirt paths or taste samples in the farmhouse, the quintessential flavors and landscape will leave a lasting memory. “Farming is kind of a form of entertainment these days,” Rhonda says. Instead of the busy city swimming holes or bustling amusement parks, a farms’ tranquility makes for a perfect pastime.

Issue 5: Summer/Fall 2015

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