Love fresh, local, and organic? When you visit Blooming Hill Farm, you’ll be getting a glimpse of where this whole Hudson Valley locavore thing got started—or rediscovered, as farmer Guy Jones might prefer. He’s fond of pointing out that not so long ago, organic and local was just the normal way people grew and ate their food. And his own farm operation in Monroe has grown as organically as one of its own fruit trees.
Jones was a lawyer with a storefront law office in Albany in 1980 when he realized that what he really wanted to do was grow food. He ventured west to Ithaca to get some dirt under his fingernails and learn the trade then started a farm of his own 60 miles from Manhattan. One imagines he may have heard “you’re going to do what?” more than once.
In his early ventures to Union Square Greenmarket, Jones found that his eclectic taste in crops and foraged foods—there are over 200 varieties of produce grown at Blooming Hill today—was winning him regulars among ambitious young chefs such as David Bouley, Mario Batali, Tom Colicchio, and Michael Romano. Word spread, like a root system, and soon Jones was taking special requests, experimenting with imported seedstock, and delivering wholesale orders to New York restaurants.
The family added a retail store, selling the farm’s fresh produce and flowers alongside the wares of other local growers and makers. Then came the cafe, an outpost for clean, simple farm-to-table fare, because after all, if you go to a farm you’re going to want to sit for a bit, and all that beautiful produce just begs to be prepared and elevated. Then came the monthly on-farm vegetarian dinners prepared by culinary luminaries, a natural outcropping of chefs’ appreciation for Blooming Hill’s food and farm. And of course, when people enjoy a gorgeous dinner on an enchanting farm, sooner or later someone’s going to want to get married there.
Blooming Hill's 100-acre property has rolling hills, streams, and expansive fields of produce. Wedding rentals include the choice of any ceremony space on the campus, full use of all their buildings, and event planning services. Blooming Hill Farm frames food as a focal piece of the event, featuring farm-fresh ingredients of the season. Their catering service is complete with a two part, organically-sourced menu and a customizable beverage package. Adorned with rustic yet elegant amenities, the farm offers a magical and delightful destination for weddings.
Today’s Blooming Hill Farm currently caters some 40 events a year on-premises while operating a massive community supported agriculture (CSA) operation and supplying dozens of restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and the Hudson Valley. An on-farm restaurant has been offering brunch, lunch and dinner on weekends since 2015. Jones’ oldest son Travis and middle son Austin are both in the family business. Both don many hats, although Travis is more focused on growing and Austin on cooking. It’s a big operation with a lot of moving parts, but the heart of it has never changed.
“Guy was one of the first farmers to actually grow organic to order for the New York restaurants, and the whole operation is very produce-forward,” says Caitlin Cullen, the newest member of the management team, happily back in her native Hudson Valley after soaking up foodie culture in New Orleans and Manhattan. “Organic drives everything we do.”
At Blooming Hill’s Spring Artisan Fair on April 27, 10am-2pm, you’ll be able to soak up the farm’s ambience while enjoying live music and the wares of Blooming Hill’s circle of ceramicists, clothing designers, fabric artists, jewelers, painters and candle makers. And you can enjoy the next vegetarian on-farm dinner on May 4: cocktail hour, wood-fired pizza, and four exquisite courses. Or, of course, you can come enjoy the restaurant, cafe and market all season long.