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Woodsist Festival September 24th & September 25th 2022

How This Catskills Hamlet Brings the Farm to the People

Just under 100 miles north of NYC, Accord is the ideal destination for those looking for a bucolic weekend getaway.

Over the past few years, New York City dwellers have zeroed in on the Catskills and Hudson Valley region as a prime weekend getaway destination. Cities like Hudson, Kingston, Rhinebeck, and Woodstock have grown into mini Brooklyns (complete with star chefs and trendy designers), and even smaller towns like Livingston Manor, Saugerties, and Callicoon have robust main streets with stylish shops, restaurants, and bars. But the region’s appeal for many is its easy access to the outdoors—and one town is doing its best to keep its nature and agriculture front and center.

Accord, New York, is a hamlet in the Town of Rochester (not to be confused with the  city of Rochester in western New York); it’s located 12 miles west of New Paltz and 19 miles south of Kingston in Ulster County—and just under 100 miles north of Midtown NYC. In the 18th and 19th century, farming was the main income generator for the people of Accord. Through the years, the hamlet benefited from being along the Delaware and Hudson Canal and later the Ontario & Western Railway, which transported products from local farms, mills, and quarries in the early 20th century. But like the rest of the Catskills, when the railway closed, the area went through economic struggles in the second half of the 20th century.

Today, the bucolic hamlet has gone back to its farming roots (or in some cases never left them), differentiating itself from many of its neighboring towns that feature sizeable downtown shopping and dining areas.

“Accord has almost a spirituality about it, with how it’s set into the land and how much of that land is preserved,” says Henry Rich, who owns a house in Accord and opened Accord Market on Main Street in September 2021. “It’s really wild here. A lot of the properties have wetlands and ridges and a lot of it’s not buildable. I think 40 percent of the Town of Rochester is preserved.”

In Accord, many visitor experiences focus on agriculture, thanks to attractive farms that welcome the public to discover organic farming methods and sample the results at on-site restaurants, breweries, and cideries. And with the recent opening of a stylish hotel, more travelers are discovering the area. So for those looking for a quieter getaway focused on the land, here’s how to plan a weekend getaway to Accord.

Where to stay in Accord

Inness

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Opened in summer 2021, Inness is a small boutique resort tucked away on a 220-acre property that includes a stylish 12-room farmhouse inn outfitted with Frette linens and Aesop bath products and 28 stand-alone minimalist cabins with fireplaces that the staff will happily light for you. The idea behind the property—the brainchild of hospitality veteran Taavo Somer, designers Post Company, development team Michael Barry, CBSK Ironstate, and Lee Pollock—is to be a community hub and provide an insular resort with everything you need. To that end, the hotel is a modern iteration of the old school Catskills resorts, with a nine-hole golf course designed by King Collins Golf (designers of Sweetens Cove in Tennessee), two tennis courts, two pools, a shop stocked with design-centric home goods and locally made food items, and a seasonal restaurant using ingredients from neighboring farms until its own organic farm is fully up and running in a few more weeks. A spa is due to open at the end of the year.

What to do in Accord

Explore Main Street

The little Main Street of Accord has a handful of charming shops set in historic buildings. Anyone particularly interested in the Town of Rochester’s history can start with a visit to the museum established by Friends of Historic Rochester, at 12 Main Street.

Downtown Antiques is filled with vintage housewares that would be priced double in some other Catskills towns. It’s popular with interior designers and you’re likely to find midcentury glassware alongside antique urns at this shop.

Next door is Stone Window Gallery, featuring the pottery of Binton Baker, who studied his craft in Japan and sells his platters, teapots, and other tableware.

On the other side is Accord Market, housed inside a brick building that has served as a 1940s Ford dealership and a roller-skating rink. When Rich, CEO of the Oberon Group that also operates three restaurants in Brooklyn, bought it before the pandemic, it had been a private art studio for 20 years and he was excited to return it to the public. During the pandemic, Rich moved to Accord full time; he quickly tired of driving 25 minutes to the nearest grocery store and realized the best use of the building on Main Street was to open a market inside it, as much to provide affordable and local food as to provide a gathering place for people.

“The Rondout Valley actually has almost 100 farms,” says Rich. “We try to balance three things: One is we want to support an environmentally sustainable food economy, two is to have items that are price-accessible to the majority of the residents in town, and the third is having items that the residents of the town that are still farming are actually making and growing.”

To that end, shoppers will find a diverse selection of locally produced goods, and it’s a perfect place to stock up on weekend snacks and/or food souvenirs before returning home. There’s goat milk feta cheese from Acorn Hill, maple syrup from Banta’s, blue oyster mushrooms from Flowering Sun, and wildflower bouquets from Treadlight Farms.

The Oberon Group also acquired the Anderson feed mill complex just off Main Street on Scenic Road, a collection of historic farm buildings that it plans to turn into a community hub with a bike shop and food and retail outlets opening in 2024.

Saunderskill Farms

One of the oldest farms in the United States, Saunderskill Farms has been growing since 1680, owned and run by the Schoonmaker family the entire time. Open to the public, visitors can pick strawberries and blueberries in spring and summer and apples and pumpkins in fall; purchase plants in the greenhouse; and visit the market and bakery for farm-grown produce, coffee, baked goods, and sandwiches. The farm also hosts various seasonal events like the Antique Tractor Pull and Hudson Valley Draft Horse Association Plow Day.

Hudson Valley Seed Company

For those interested in farming or gardening at home, a stop at Hudson Valley Seed Company on Route 209 is a must. The company has been operating its headquarters out of Accord for many years and recently opened a storefront selling its heirloom and open-pollinated seed packets. Customers can browse the seasonal seed selection, which includes chamomile and calendula, plus eight varieties of carrots. It also sells gardening tools, books, and botanical posters and prints. Look for the Art Packs, which showcase commissioned artist-designed seed packs.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Although not in Accord proper, Minnewaska State Park Preserve is only a 10-minute drive south within the Town of Rochester. Part of the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, the park features rocky cliffs, gushing waterfalls, three lakes, hardwood forests, and 35 miles of carriage roads and 50 miles of footpaths for hiking and biking. It’s the perfect place to enjoy nature between farm visits.

Where to eat and drink

Apiary at Arrowood Farms

Arrowood Farms is on a farm-packed stretch of Lower Whitfield Road. A brewery and distillery, Arrowood grows its own hops for its beer and was integral in discovering which hops varietals grow best on the East Coast. It also grows herbs and fruit for its spirits and has an apiary for honey, which is used in its beverages. There’s a small vegetable garden and chickens and pigs roaming around, all of which supply the on-site barbecue food truck and tasting room, called Apiary.

Cofounder and managing partner Jacob Meglio grew up in the area and was always around or working on farms. “The mission statement of Arrowood is to showcase local agriculture through flavor,” says Meglio, who launched Arrowood in 2016. “And we also want to help local farms have a feasible business model, because Ulster County was going through a decline in agricultural growers. There was a lot of young people that were no longer taking on the family farm, because there was not a whole lot of glory in growing feed for dairy cows.” But now Meglio helps them plant hops and other grains and buys it all for the brewery and distillery that quickly outgrew his own 20 acres.

On a summer afternoon, guests are likely to find live music on the outdoor stage, families at picnic tables or playing with the chickens, and people tasting various farm beers, whiskies, gin, and vodka, which are also made into tasty cocktails. Typically seven Arrowood Farm beers are on tap plus several more bottles and cans available for tasting—sour beer fans should try the Porch Beer made with wild yeast captured from the farm’s unique atmosphere created by bees that pollinate the farm. For dinner, there’s venison tartare with house-made mustard and pickles, and egg yolk from the farm’s chickens; gigantic fried blue oyster mushrooms with an addictive fermented habanero aioli; and rabbit tacos with pickled onion and adobo sauce. All of the ingredients used in the food, beer, and spirits come from the farm or within New York State.

Westwind Orchard

Enjoy lunch on an apple orchard at Westwind Orchard where you can sip the hard ciders made on site while munching on freshly made pizzas, pastas, and salads using several grown-on-the-premises ingredients. Westwind, across from Arrowood, makes unfiltered cider in the traditional method using a variety of cider apples from its orchard. Stop by the shop for jam, apple cider vinegar, honey, and maple syrup, all made on the farm. In season, outdoor events among the apple trees—plays, operas, and salsa dancing—bring the orchard alive.

Stone House Tavern

One of the few restaurants in Accord not on a farm, Stone House Tavern is in a historic stone house that its newest owners, who took over in 2018, lovingly restored and reopened at the end of 2019. Warm interiors that highlight the old-fashioned architecture combine with a friendly tavern feel. The menu features hearty dishes made with local ingredients, such as an endive pear salad, a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich on challah, and truffled pot roast with potatoes and glazed baby carrots.