Traditions remain while offerings have expanded to include local products and unique treats at the county’s farm stands and country markets.
Farm stands are an American roadside tradition that beckon the passerby. Is it the promise of just-picked fruits and vegetables or the enticing aromas from house-made pies and doughnuts? Maybe it’s the comfort in knowing exactly where your food came from and the confidence in knowing it is local and sustainable. Whatever the reason, Westchesterites have been fortunate to have numerous choices for farm-fresh purchases at businesses that have been around many decades. Here are among the best in the county.
Cherry Lawn Farm (New Rochelle; cherrylawnfarm.com) has been a Westchester treasure for more than 80 years. It all started in 1936, when Antonio DiRenzo purchased 15 acres from the Ward family to establish the farm. Its name came from the three cherry trees that sat on the lawn beside his original stand. In 85 years, its mission has never wavered. Armando D’Onofrio Jr., current owner and third-generation family member, said their goal has always been “to bring great food to the community.”
In the 1950s, D’Onofrio Jr.’s father came into the business, having married DiRenzo’s daughter. Plants were introduced in the 1950s, with that aspect of the business blossoming into a full garden center.
The 1980s saw a major change when Cherry Lawn sold much of its acreage to a developer and moved the farming business to Dutchess County. D’Onofrio Jr. unabashedly admits that Cherry Lawn is not known for its bargain prices, but says, “Westchester consumers are looking for high-end products and are willing to pay more for them, as they take pride in knowing their food is hand-selected.” The store now sells a variety of prepared foods and fresh-baked items under the watchful eye of Chef Joseph Kelleher.
Of course, the past year and a half has been a particular challenge for the market; however, Cherry Lawn remained opened throughout and did not lay off a single employee. D’Onofrio Jr. is grateful that his customers have shown tremendous appreciation for his efforts. A lovely aside is Cherry Lawn’s commitment to the Westchester-Fairfield chapter of Autism Speaks, an organization with which it shares a personal connection and support on a significant level. Over the past 85 years, Cherry Lawn’s footprint has evolved, and with it so has its impact on the local community and discerning Westchester consumer.
For the past 58 years, family-run Acorn Farm and Garden Center (Harrison; acornoutdoorliving.com) has made its mark. It’s known for its heavenly house-baked pies, sweet apple-cider doughnuts, locally grown corn, just-picked fruits and vegetables, and beautifully crafted gazebos made in the Amish country.
Sustainable, local, and natural is the promise kept since 1939 by the DeMaria family of Hemlock Hill Farm & Market (Cortlandt; hemlockhillfarm.com), known for its Red Heritage and Barred Rock chickens. They offer a CSA program, where their products and those they curate from other local purveyors can be bought in “shares.”
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard (North Salem; harvestmoonfarmandorchard.com) offers fresh farm-grown local produce, organic products, and pasture-raised beef, pork, and poultry. Be sure to experience a cup of its hard apple cider on a crisp October day, apple picking in the fall, pizza nights, its CSA program, and annual Easter egg hunt.
Since 1890, Cole’s Market (Montrose; colesmarket.com), has provided its community with top-notch seafood, meats, and produce. Now a full-service specialty grocery, it creates house-made sausage and famous square burgers, which sit perfectly on square muffins made by Dam Good English Muffins, in Peekskill.
Rochambeau Farms (Bedford; rochambeaufarmny.com) is a seven-acre home to goats, pigs, horses, and chickens, as well as an expansive farm that grows the fruits and vegetables they sell. Their house-baked pies are legendary, and their offerings, from maple syrup to CBD oil, are all locally sourced. They also offer boarding to retired horses.