Stone Barns Center

I can't remember who told me about Stone Barns Center - but when I heard there was a working farm where you can visit and eat near my parents' home in Harrington Park, NJ, I got very excited.  We made a plan to join an 11am group tour - unfortunately, it sold out online this morning. Still, we were up and ready, so we left at our scheduled time - I munched on some blueberry muffin my mom picked up. There were some grapes too, but I only wound up eating three or four since I wasn't very hungry and we were planning on lunch at noon. A gorgeous day! I brought the Los Angeles weather with me - mid seventies with no humidity. The drive through Rockland County was beautiful.

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You can just roam the grounds freely, which I actually prefer to being in a tour group. As we stepped into the greenhouse, we wound up getting our own private guide!

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Sedge (named after the plant) has grown up on the farm, with his family who works there, and boy did he know his stuff.

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He even had his own green smoothie in a mason jar!

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The center is massive, and the animals roam pretty freely. Look how close my pops got to these turkeys.

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His pix were a lot better than mine - here are some of them:

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We walked around for about an hour - important to stretch!

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There is a fancy restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, with a gourmet tasting menu sourced directly from the farm (and others nearby) but it's crazy expensive ($85-135 per person) and requires a 2-month reservation. We opted for the more affordable Blue Hill Cafe.

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Though that was pretty expensive as well! Lunch (3 sandwiches and a salad) was $40. Plus we got suckered into buying some beautiful gourmet goodies while waiting on line.  My mom, dad, and I shared a pay-per-pound salad - quinoa/cracked wheat with corn and tomato, chickpea, with feta

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An open-faced roast beef sandwich

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Veggie goat cheese frittata and Wheat Bread stuffed with Kale and Mushrooms

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My portions - DELICIOUS!

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All the dishes, napkins, silverware are compostable! I really don't mind paying extra to support an organization like this...but their farmer's market prices were a bit outrageous.

See me in the background, peeved, while my Mom picks out a $5 tomato?

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It's because I found out a bunch of kale was going to be $6.

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Their system is very different from other farmer's markets - one person deals with everything, there's a long line to select (and another one to buy) which puts a lot of pressure on you to just pay what they ask for after waiting that long - no opportunity to take your time weighing, deliberating, or haggling!

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But I get why their prices are as high as they are. Plus, they're a not-for-profit business that's offering a very unique and educational experience to people in the area. I know I would've loved to come here when I lived in NYC as a little day trip (you can arrive via Metro North/taxi in less than an hour). Plus, you don't HAVE to buy anything - you can just pay the $5 parking fee (which is reimbursed when you spend $15 or more there) and walk around - pack a picnic and bring your dog too!