Yesterday, my family and I were all still sitting around in our pajamas at 11 am, and thinking of places to go to get out of the city. (Parade Sundays are always horrible.) I googled “Day trips from Manhattan” and on the first page was a link to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. THIS. We are doing this, I said, after poking around their site for a minute or two. Technically, Blue Hill is the restaurant and Stone Barns is the name of the farm. They are two separate entities that work together. The farm is a working farm, 25 minutes out of Manhattan. The farm was built by the Rockefellers in the 1890s, and though it has had a brief period of disuse in the 50s was pretty much a consistently working farm. In the 70s, Peggy Rockefeller, wife of David Rockefeller, revived it as a cattle farm. The Stone Barns Center, as it exists today, opened in 2004 as a non profit fully sustainable and organic year round farm. If you don’t choose to eat on the property, the entire day will cost you only $5 entry fee for your whole family. The farm is fully functioning. And while I highly recommend the Queens County Farm, as it also a functioning farm, this farm has a different feel to it. While the Queens County Farm has side attractions like pony rides and petting zoos, this farm is just a farm. The goal is to teach the community about sustainable and responsible agriculture. It provides most of the food for the famed Blue Hill Restaurant as well as a CSA that community members can join. That doesn’t mean your kids wont see and enjoy the animals though. Additionally, Blue Hill and Stone Barns highly educated staff will give you a walking tour of the farm. We really enjoyed listening to the bee keeper’s talk about the apiary. Amazing stuff that bee keeping is. They also have story time and egg collecting for the children in the morning, but we missed that. You need to make a reservation online so do that before you go. Aside from all that, the experience of being in a place so fairy-tale-farm like is magical. Its like a page out of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm over there. The side of the milk carton. The dream American industrial agriculture sells us on so that we forget what industrial agriculture is not quite as quaint. As my children chased chickens and walked on logs, I thought, wow, this could be any moment in American history and it would look exactly the same. I once read that today’s kids are both under-stimulated and overstimulated. Being indoors all day = under-stimulated, TV and video games fast pace = overstimulated. But that the exact right amount of stimulation for a child’s brain is the feeling of being outdoors. The blades of grass between their toes, birds chirping in the distance, wind gently caressing their little rosy faces. That’s the feeling I had here. Knowing that the dirt your kid is touching is the good kind of dirt. The wholesome dirt. Not sooty city dirt. It was bliss. Although its not the kind of bliss that is just completely reveling in nature. The place is magnificently built and incredibly high end feeling. Porsches, Aston Martins and Bentleys roll in and out of the parking lot. As for the famous restaurant, we didn’t eat there with the kids. We’ve eaten at the one in NYC, and it was an incredible experience. No menus, and the farm fresh food comes on a “fence”. It’s pretty amazing, but its fancy, not the kind of meal I would ruin for others by having my kids at the next table. (Plus gentlemen are encouraged to wear a jacket.) We did however, eat at the Blue Hill Cafe, which is outdoors adjacent to a large beautiful courtyard. We had farro salad, frittata, and goat cheese and veggie pizza. Yum. Additionally there is home made honey ice cream and popcorn to be had. Two thumbs up. Most of all, the farm and its happy animals is proof that farming in America doesn’t have to be an unethical mess. If there is an ethical way to eat meat, this is the way. And to quote Joel Salatin, one of the most inspiring farmers of our time: “We don’t need a law against McDonald’s or a law against slaughterhouse abuse–we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse.” ― Joel Salatin
In conclusion: 30 minutes from Manhattan. Highly recommend. We plan on coming back for a special occasion evening without the kids for dinner.630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, NY 10591
Tel:914 366 6200 Fax:914 366 7905
10 am — 5 pm,Wednesday through Sunday Learn more HERE.