TaSH Creates a Communal Farm-to-Table Haven

It takes a village (or two) to turn Patriots Park into a community village green.



Photos by Dave Zucker

Only three years old, the farmers' market located just at the natural boundary between Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow (hence “TaSH”) is doing some pretty ambitious things. Beyond providing a weekly space for vendors to sell their wares, Rivertowns Village Green — the non-profit that runs the market — looks to create an Old World village green where locals can come to learn, play, eat, and spend an entire day.

“We wanted to create a big community event instead of just a farmers' market,” says RVG co-president Suzanne Sorentino. “We’re looking for people who are using local ingredients, local sources, fair trade, that sort of thing. And we’re trying to make those connections between our vendors.”

Deb Taft, TaSH cofounder and cofounder, treasurer, and secretary of the Westchester Growers Alliance says, “I think it was pretty clear early on that the originators were looking for a more diverse farmers' market.  I’m from here. It’s really cool to be able to sell stuff I grew with care to my neighbors. To feed my neighbors.”


 

The market limits vendors to only farms and businesses either from New York State or within 100 miles of the market itself. These booths surround a central grassy field with picnic tables and a small bandstand where two separate musical acts perform each week, and are surrounded in turn by a playground and children’s activities like story time, yoga, and Marsha Dunn’s “What’s In Season?” hands-on educational program where she and volunteers teach children how and where their food is grown.


 

JD Farms in Brewster is one of those places, growing corn as well as tomatoes that work their way into their own personal sauces and Bloody Mary mix. Chiefly, though, JD Farms raises livestock, predominantly beef and Berkshire and heritage breeds of pork, though a few chickens make their way into rotation. Lou D’Alessandro, the farmer himself, is on hand to showcase the steaks, rounds, briskets, and natural casing hot dogs and sausages.


 

JDF calves are fed a secret blend of high-protein grasses to give their meat better marbling. Nearly the entire animal is then hung and dried for two to three weeks, similar to a short dry-aging session. The result is gorgeous, dark meat with a robust flavor that can thaw in a matter of minutes thanks to its decreased water weight.


 

One of the oldest vegetable farms in the Northeast, Blooming Hill Farms is another local grower who got involved with TaSH its very first year. Started by a former Albany lawyer, Guy Jones, who gave up his practice to grow produce for New York City restaurants, this Blooming Grove, NY farm now has its own restaurant, with farm-to-table events, and a wedding venue. The farm’s unsold produce is used as feed for their chickens, which Guy’s youngest son, Skylar, describes as, “almost too free-range.” The Joneses have long since given up on fences, building chicken coops out of converted mobile trailers, though the chickens tend to lay their eggs wherever they choose.




 

While the kids are learning about beets and kale, the Hillrock Estate Distillery tent offers hands-on education more suitable for parents. Located in Ancram, NY, Hillrock is one of the world’s only “field-to-glass” whiskey producers, and the first distiller since before Prohibition to floor malt their spirits on-site. (Floor malting being a process most common to Scotch-style whiskeys.)


 

By law, “rye whiskey” must be made from at least 51 percent rye. Hillrock’s variety is 100 percent rye and entirely New York grown. Similarly, “bourbon” must be 51 percent corn with the remainder primarily rye. Under Master Distiller Dave Pickerell (formerly of Maker’s Mark), Hillrock has developed a Solera Aged Bourbon which, in the Spanish tradition, is never fully emptied from the cask. This results in a continuously aging and developing flavor. Currently, the average age is about 6 years, with a corn content around 63 percent.

Timely customers might be lucky enough to pick up a limited run bottle of Hillrock Estate Single Malt. Smooth, with notes of chocolate and sherry, it is consistently one of the highest rated whiskeys in the United States. Locavore whiskey lovers will be happy to hear that the only ingredient in the Single Malt not produced in New York is the peat used in its smoking process, hailing directly from Scotland.


 

TaSH bills itself as a true community endeavor. Nearly every “employee” is actually a volunteer, families and pets are welcome, signs are printed bilingually for the area’s large and growing Spanish-speaking community, and whenever possible “What’s In Season?” and other demonstrations try to have at least one fluent speaker on hand. Of the more than 50 permanent and rotating market vendors, many accept cash, credit, New York State Farmers' Market Checks for fresh produce, veterans checks, food pantry tokens, and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program stamps, the latter of which TaSH matches to effectively double their value. There is even a loyalty program earning return guests a free surprise treat after their tenth visit.

Unsold food, meanwhile, either gets donated to the Food Pantry of Sleepy Hollow and other local groups, or composted. Partner and vendor Green Tree Textiles is on hand every week to collect old cloth and clothing, last year recycling over one-and-a-half tons of fabric.

There’s a palpable sense of love and pride throughout the grounds. Multiple patrons have described the market as their “happy place,” to which RVG board member Annie Cauthren, says, “That’s like the biggest return-on-investment you can have.”

Local jazz five-piece Les Hommes de Cave.
 

TaSH is held every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. between Memorial Day and Thanksgiving, with a holiday pop-up market usually held in December to coincide with the town tree and candle lighting festival.

Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow Farmers' Market
Patriots Park, Sleepy Hollow

 

 

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