My first few years in NYC were incredibly exciting. I was living alone for the first time and, also for the first time, making a decent living. The city seemed like a large playground, full of exciting choices. Chinese/Mexican fusion food in a trendy neighborhood? easy. Cool Boutiques or the largest flagship department stores? all within minutes of each other. In New York City, every type of cuisine and retail experience is at your fingertips.
It was exciting to be in the know about what was opening where, to eat in new neighborhoods, explore the shopping options. It was during this period that my obsession with interiors became all consuming. A lot of my free time was spent exploring stores that would shape my aesthetic: John Derian's amazing east village locations, ABC carpet and home, where I would start at the top and wander down each floor marveling at the exquisite choices; Wyeth,where mid century dreams come true. I couldn't really afford to buy much, but fantasized about doing so and in the process learned about style and craftsmanship. Whenever I discovered a new store, a whole world of possibility would open up and I would soak it all in and look forward to the next discovery.
A lot has change in my life, and in the world, since then. and somewhere along the line the idea of having so many options, so many choices, has become less appealing. Perhaps I am more confident in my likes and dislikes, or it could be that having a family, there is less time to wander and explore. It could even be possible that I have enough possesions - and no room for more.
All of the above might be true. But I believe there is more to it. These days, there are so many options available to us, especially online. If we desire something, whatever and wherever it is, there is a high possibility that we can find it with a simple google search and have it delivered to our doorstep within a week. Our choices are, literally, endless. I find this exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time.
Over the past few years a different type of shopping and dining experience has become part of my life. One that I find deeply satisfying and extremely pleasurable. It started during our weekends in the Hudson Valley, where we explored and discovered a smattering of small, local restaurants and stores. Each one offers a distinctive and specialized point of view. Somehow, it became more exciting to eat at one of our four excellent local restaurants, or visit the stores in the surrounding villages, than to explore the vast choices offered in the city. The limited choice of destinations and of products on offer by these establishments adds to the experience - the focus is taken away from making a choice and placed on enjoying the time spent there.
One of our favorite places to visit is Sawkill Farm. We stumbled upon it almost by accident: A big red barn with a discreet sign stating that the farm store is open. It is a diverse family farm in the Hudson Valley. They produce wholesome, healthy and fresh meat, eggs and vegetable There is also a year-round farm kitchen, where they create stocks (their beef broth is amazing!), sausages and smoked meat. The farm store consists of just one room, a simple setup that belies the richness within. It took me a while to understand that within this one room, every part of the farm animal is represented and celebrated. Nothing goes to waste.
The fridges at the back of the shop house delicious cuts of grass fed meat, and many other delicious foods, but there is so much more: Lamb pelts, cured on the premises and sent out for tanning. Because they raise different wool breeds, each piece is unique. They are displayed on a simple wood rack. I am a firm believer that any room design is improved with a sheepskin.
Beautiful leather bags, wallets and other accessories are made locally, utilizing the hide from the farm's cows. they come in a carefully curated selection of colors is earthy yet intense. The farm also sells naturally-colored skeins of wool from their cross-bred flock of sheep: Finnsheep, Gottland, Romney, and Lincoln. Also on offer are deliciously scented and beautifully packaged soaps, which are made from Leaf lard and beef tallow.
Michael Robertson is passionate about farming. He started Sawkill Farm in 2010 and was joined by Kallie Weinkle Robertson in 2012. Their integrity and commitment to a responsible , sustainable way of life is evident in everything they do. It is not only a link to historical farming practices, it also sets the standard for the kind of future we should all strive towards. There is no need to worry about choice here. Every product on offer has a reason for being that makes it inherently valuable......and they have an online shop!!
Thank you so much Kallie & Michael for letting us intrude on your very busy schedule. it was a pleasure to spend a little time with Kallie in the farm store
Visit Sawkill farm at:
7782 Albany Post Road, Red Hook, NY 12571