“Agriculture is the noblest of all alchemy; for it turns earth, and even manure, into gold, conferring upon its cultivator the additional reward of health.” ~Paul Chatfield
Lake Champlain has been called the “Sixth Great Lake'' and rightfully so. The waterway extends for 120-miles with the Adirondack Mountains of New York to the West and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the east. Many people may not know that the number of farms along the Adirondack Coast is just as vast as the lake itself. With more than 240 farms nestled along the rugged shoreline, the region offers a cornucopia of opportunities and experiences for visitors and locals alike. Let's explore some of the ways you can enjoy a farming experience on the Adirondack Coast.
1. Visit Agri-alley in Keeseville!
Agri-alley is where three farms converge on Mace Chasm Road, a true agricultural paradise. This handsome road is near scenic Ausable Chasm and will not disappoint. Each farm offers something different, so why not explore them all! Mace Chasm Farm offers delicious sausages, cuts, grinds, broths, smoked meats, paté, and cooking fats each week. They also make their own salamis as well, which is the perfect addition to an outdoor picnic. Next, head to North Country Creamery, where you can find grass-fed dairy products like farmstead cheese, creamline yogurt, and raw milk. The last farm on your tour is Fledging Crow Vegetable Farm. A stop here will round out your grocery list and fulfill all of your vegetable needs with over 60 varieties to choose from. After all that shopping, you are going to be thirsty. No visit to Agri-alley would be complete without having delicious craft beer from Ausable Brewing Co. This open-air brewery grows three varieties of hops on-site and they serve their brews from an old 1880s barn. One thing is for certain, this place has character!
2. Visit a you-pick flower farm
Mossbrook Roots Flower Farm, also located on Mace Chasm Road, offers a you-pick flower program, so you can make your own bouquet. No RSVP is required and flowers are $1 per stem. They also provide farm tours; just stop by the store and let them know you are there for a tour. I can personally attest to the awesome work they are doing since I got flowers for my wedding there.
3. Stay at a working farm
For an agriculture-based lodging and dining experience, look no further than DaCy Meadow Farm, where you can unwind, eat great local food, and learn about farm life. DaCy Meadow Farm has lodging for every traveler. Choose from the Croft house, perfect for a family or group, a tiny house at The Cottage, a glamping experience at The Stables, or one of the campsites spread out over the farm's 150 acres. Just a few feet from your lodging are 3 miles of marked hiking trails through a variety of habitats. Stroll by brooks and wetlands, through forests, past grazing livestock in the pastures, or to a scenic overlook of The Champlain Valley. You are going to want to work up an appetite for the farm-to-table dining experience in the beautiful Localvore Gallery. The long, dining room table evokes memories of family and will make you want to relax and savor each and every moment. Take your time and taste the quality that fresh, local, and healthy food provides. Book a farm stay and immerse yourself in a completely different way of life.
4. Take a class at one of the local farms
Mountain Weavers’ Farm Store in Port Henry offers basket weaving classes throughout the summer. After all, everyone needs a basket to fill up on farm-fresh goodness. Visit their website for availability. Mountain Weavers’ Farm Store is also your source for locally grown food: handpicked fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and hand-crafted baskets.
5. Visit a farmer's market
In the summer and fall, you can find a farmer's market on just about any day of the week. Visit one and you will be amazed by the variety and quality of local ingredients compared to what you would find at the grocery store. Additionally, your purchase of locally grown food supports the growth of the local economy. That's a win-win for everyone!
6. Hike through farms and fields
The pastoral beauty of the Champlain Valley is a completely different experience compared to the more rugged High Peaks Region. These trails feature vast expanses of farmland, big open skies, grassy green meadows, forests, and scenic river vistas. Most of these hikes are short and can be paired with other farm experiences for a satisfying adventure. A few of my favorite hikes in the Champlain Valley are DaCy Meadow Farm, Riverside Trail, Coon Mountain, North Boquet Mountain, Art Farm, and Coot Hill. These trails are a part of the Champlain Area Trails (CATS) system, which offers more than 40 miles of trails to explore. Check out their website for detailed trail descriptions and hiking maps.
7. Enjoy a farm-to-table meal
Many restaurants in the Lake Champlain Region use locally-sourced ingredients, which means more flavor to tickle your taste buds. One spot that is my go-to is Old Orchard Place in Willsboro, a family-owned apple and peach orchard. However, this place is more than just an orchard. It is also a cafe, pizzeria, and a small farm store. This hidden gem offers delectable food options from its famous mac and cheese bowls to salads and handcrafted pizzas - and they don’t skimp on the toppings! More offerings are available on Saturdays during apple season when they make homemade cider, donuts, pies, and other baked goods. While this place is more of a cafe than a restaurant, it's a quick option when your stomach is growling after gallivanting about. Don’t forget to check out their farm store, which features local produce, honey, and maple syrup from other nearby farms. How’s that for supporting local farm culture! Other notable restaurants that I have personally enjoyed are:
DaCy Meadow Farm (dining by reservation only)
To find more local food and products, go to Adirondack Harvest. Celebrate the farm-to-table community and buy local, your support helps strengthen our local food system!