25 June 2012

Fresh From the Farm

Aside from taste—nothing beats the flavor of natural, locally grown foods—there are plenty of reasons to eschew supermarkets in favor of farm markets. Local farms produce healthier, more nutritious foods that are better for you, the environment and future generations. Factory farming, on the other hand, perpetrates atrocities against animals and, often, creates products that raise your risk of disease. Buying food at its source helps create a deeper connection to and appreciation of the foods we eat.

Here's where to go for some of the freshest foods on the planet in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania:
Farm Markets
Hawley Famers Market, Hawley Train Platform, Route 6, Hawley, (570) 226-3267, www.visithawleypa.com. Fridays, 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. June thru October. Local fruits and vegetables, plants, flowers and breads.
Mahoning Farmers Market, 2522 Blakeslee Boulevard, Lehighton, (570) 386-2096. Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open year round. Local specialties, organic food, crafts, vegetables and fruits.
Milford Farmers Market, Milford Township Building, Routes 6 & 209, Milford. Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. July through October. Local fruits and vegetables and baked goods.
Monroe Farmers Market, 827 Ann Street, Stroudsburg. Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon May through October. Local fruits and vegetables, plants, flowers, raw natural honey, fresh baked breads and pastries, jams, jellies, syrups, hand-roasted gourmet coffee, homemade pasta, sauces, fine wines, handmade soaps, lotions and candles.
Shawnee Market, The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, 124 Shawnee Inn Drive, Shawnee-on-Delaware, (570) 424-4000, www.shawneeinn.com. Tuesdays, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Local produce, ShawneeCraft Beer, maple syrup and honey, locally roasted coffee, homemade preserves and pickles, home baked goods, crafts, jewelry natural cosmetics and more.
The Farmer's Basket, 1309 North 5th Street, Stroudsburg, (570) 421-6641. Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Local produce, vegetables, herbs and houseplants.
Wayne County Famers Market, Commercial Street behind Visitors Center, Honesdale, (570) 760-6509. Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Late May through October. Berries, broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, peas, beans, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, sweet corn, cantaloupe, watermelon, a variety of herbs and tomatoes. Fall produce: apples, pears, root vegetables, leeks, winter squash, cabbage, turnips, Brussels sprouts and pumpkins.
Calkins Creamery, 288 Calkins Road, Honesdale, (570) 729-8103, www.calkinscreamery.com. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sixth generation family farm producing farmstead artisan cheeses and naturally raised meats.
Coutts Berry Farms, Paupack Blueberry Farm, Gumbletown Rd. Rt. 507, Paupack, (570) 226-9702, www.paupackblueberryfarm.com. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Homemade ice cream, baked goods, jams, jellies and relish.  After mid-July, pick your own blueberries or buy pre-picked.
Dansbury Famers Market, Miller Park, behind Dansbury Depot, East Stroudsburg, (570) 992-5615. Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May through October. Local fruits and vegetables, dairy and eggs.
Fox Hill Farm, 297 Fox Hill Road, Honesdale, (570) 251-9334, www.foxhillfarmexperience.com. Largest selection of flowers in the region. Visit the farm for year-round events, including films and flower bouquet workshops. The Garden Shop is open Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., year round. Buy shrubs, perennials, garden tools, garden decor and more. Enjoy a farm stay experience in a private cottage.
Josie Porter Farm, 6332 Cherry Valley Road, Stroudsburg, (570) 992-0899, www.josieporterfarm.com. Wednesdays, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May through December. Onsite Farm Stand/Buying Club.
The Anthill Farm, 1114 Beech Grove Road, Honesdale, (570) 253-5985, www.theanthillfarm.com. Three siblings purchased an old dairy farm and converted it into a mixed vegetable, fruit, nut and livestock farm. The result is amazing quality produced via progressive, sustainable philosophy. Seasonal CSA, featuring a large selection of fruits and vegetables, available at below market value.

15 June 2012

Hiking the Appalachian (and other) Trails

Years ago in San Francisco I met a woman, Naomi, who'd just returned from a seven-month hike of the entire Appalachian Trail. We were in Gimme Shoes, a fantastic and wildly overpriced boutique on Fillmore Street. She was aghast at the prices. Oh honey, I told her, there are only two things in life you can't fake: good hair and good shoes.
This was a natural segue into hiking boots.
If you're going to wear only one pair of shoes for seven months, you had better love those shoes. But finding the perfect blend of cute and highly functional, weatherproof, comfortable, sturdy and supportive, can be challenging. That's why the fact that my beloved hiking boots are being held hostage in a locker in Mysore, India, is particularly distressing to me. I left my boots, along with my favorite fleece pullover, an adorable black wool wrap sweater, four novels, a pressure cooker, French press, two notebooks and a CD of Yoga Sutra chants with my former landlord in Mysore. I had every intention of returning for them. But life took some unexpected twists.
Life is like a long distance hike. You start out thinking you're going somewhere specific and you set a timetable for getting there. And then you run into all kinds of twists and switchbacks and maybe you eventually reach your destination. And maybe you don't.
Naomi set out from Springer Mountain in Georgia in April and reached Katahdin, Maine in November. She's one of the rare hikers to traverse the entire Appalachian Trail. Each year the Appalachian Trail attracts thousands of hikers, many of whom, like Naomi, set out with a goal of traveling the entire route. Eighty percent fail. A mere 500 or so hikers are able to complete the arduous trek. Some do so in as little as five months.
Winding 2,178 miles through 14 states, from the summit of Maine's Mount Katahdin to the top of Springer Mountain in Georgia, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is the longest footpath in the U.S. With a highest point of 6,625 feet in Tennessee and a nadir of 124 feet in New York, the Trail ranges from deep forested wilderness to strenuous mountain hiking above the tree line and rambles through quintessential American towns.
As a pilgrimage, the Appalachian Trail has no American rival. Dozens of books about nature, fellowship and self-discovery have been written by those who’ve trekked the Trail.
Blazing through Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, the Appalachian Trail creates some of the most spectacular sights in the state, including the Delaware Water Gap. Geologically, the Water Gap, which lies on the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is the point where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachians. Part of the National Parks system, the Water Gap offers outdoor enthusiasts a wide range of activities, including rafting, swimming, fishing, bird watching, camping, horseback riding and rock climbing, and the comfort and culture of the eponymous town of Delaware Water Gap.
A haven for artists, musicians and writers, Delaware Water Gap, the town, is graced with quaint bed and breakfasts and country inns. Founders Day is celebrated on June 30 and each September the town hosts Celebration of the Arts, which brings together musicians, dancers, poets and filmmakers for a three-day artistic feast. Year-round, internationally renowned jazz musicians perform at the Deer Head Inn on Main Street, the country's oldest jazz club.
I’ve spent far more time hiking India’s Himalayas than the Pocono Mountains of my own backyard. In truth, the Poconos, with a summit of less than one meter, are mere hills. The hill I lived on in San Francisco seems higher to me. Or maybe just loftier. Back when I was packing up those hiking boots in India I could not have imagined that this is where life would lead me. It was not part of my plan. I’m reminded of a Jewish adage: If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

Planning is great. But it's important to be able to change course gracefully when circumstances warrant. Hold on to your hiking boots—you never know what path your life may take.

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03 June 2012

The Poconos' Glacial Lake

Lacawac Sanctuary, located in the northeastern tip of the Pocono Mountains, is a nature preserve, ecological field research station and public environmental education facility. The Sanctuary, which is set on 545 acres and includes forests, a lake and a group of buildings built in 1903, many of which are architectural gems, features five public hiking trails.

The centerpiece of Lacawac Sanctuary is the 52-acre Lake Lacawac, which is the southernmost glacial lake in the northern hemisphere. Preserved in pristine condition completely free from development and encroachment, Lake Lacawac is perhaps the most beautiful body of water in Pennsylvania.

Preserving nearly 500 acres of native forest, most of which is second growth, Lacawac Sanctuary includes traces of original forested areas existing within the protection of the boreal bog and on the high side of the Wallenpaupack Ledges. The forest is currently in precarious condition—under attack from outbreaks of gypsy moth caterpillars, tent caterpillars and other pests. The Sanctuary works aggressively to take actions that help protect its indigenous treasures from predators.

For more information on Lacawac Sanctuary, including how to make a donation to help preserve Lacawac's forests: www.lacawac.org.

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