Items tagged with 'Hill Towns'
Driving into Rensselaerville, the small and historic Albany County hamlet in the town of the same name, is like taking a trip back through time. Things move a little slower. The locals speak in less hurried tones.
And just as everything old is new again, the food at the town's public family room -- The Palmer House Café -- adheres to the old habit of using local, seasonal produce and ingredients to craft a meal. Farm-to-table was a way of life for eaters in decades (centuries) past, but today it's one of many options.
The Palmer House's peach blueberry cobbler is just one example of why this option should be priority once again.
This week we've been reading a bit about a wild episode of local history that we hadn't know much about: The Anti-Rent War, also known as the Helderberg War. Here's a clip that gives a broad outline of the story from The Anti-rent Era in New York Law and Politics, 1839-1865 by Charles W. McCurdy:
On July 4, 1839, angry tenant farmers on New York's oldest estate assembled in the Albany County village of Berne to adopt a declaration of independence from their landlord. Nobody counted heads that afternoon. But 3,063 families leased farms on the 726,000-acre Manor of Rensselaerwyck, and all of them had cause to complain. Manor contracts required an annual rent for every 100 acres ranging from ten to fourteen bushels of wheat, delivered to the landlord and ready for milling. All mill sites and mines were reserved, together with all rights necessary and proper to make them available to the Van Rensselaer family or its agents. Mills might be built, cropland or pasture flooded, and roads laid out on the tenant's premises without payment of compensation. There were also feudal dues. Every year farmstead heads owed a day's labor with horse and wagon and were bound to deliver "four fat fowl" on rent day ... Every indenture enumerated remedies for breach of this or any other covenant. Among them was the landlord's right to reenter the premises and repossess not only the land but also any improvements -- houses barns, fences, growing crops -- annexed to the land. Taken together, proclaimed the Independence Day mass meeting at Berne, these contractual provisions amounted to "voluntary slavery." The time had come to avow "that we can no longer endure the infamy of tamely entailing upon future generations such wretchedness and unhallowed bondage as inevitably awaits them if we any longer submit ourselves to be thus unjustly, unrighteously, inhumanly oppressed and imposed upon." So began the longest rent strike in United States history.
The whole situation was something like a super intense version of an American Downtown Abbey that mashes together the remnants of Dutch influence, economics, agriculture, and politics.
The death of Stephen van Rensselaer III -- probably the richest person in the United States at the time -- prompts a breakup of the patroon of Rensselaerswyck, what was essentially a feudal estate that included much of what's now the Capital Region. Authorities try to collect back rents. Farmers revolt, taking up arms against law enforcement. A posse that included a former governor of New York is turned back. There's a revolt leader named "Big Thunder." William Seward plays a role as governor of New York. People are tarred and feathered. Again, it was intense.
A portion of McCurdy's book is on Google Books, and it looks like a good way of reading up on the topic. There's also a Wikipedia entry related to the episode. And here's an Encyclopedia of New York State page about it.
Old Songs: We started reading about this topic this week because Old Songs is hosting a "Down with the Rent! The Anti-Rent Rebellion of New York" music event this Friday and Saturday featuring songs and stories related to the Anti-Rent Revolt. Tickets are $20.
image via Wikipedia
Could be a good time: FarmieMarket and the Chefs Consortium are teaming for "an evening of local food, music and fun" as a fundraiser for "farm-to-table programming" on August 26 at the Carey Center for Global Good in Rensselaerville (formerly the Rensselaerville Institute). Blurbage:
The Farm-To-Table Fundraiser is brought to you in partnership with the Chefs Consortium and FarmieMarket to benefit the Carey Center's programs to support agriculture and farmers in our local and regional community. Presently, the Carey Center is cultivating new programs for community composting, children's seed-to-fork education, farm brewing, green roof building, and local harvest culinary workshops. Additionally, the Carey Center is working with Baitsholts Farm to host an on-farm agricultural education program to teach new farmers and homesteaders the skills to thrive in the sustainable agriculture industry. [AOA adds: that's a photo of Baitsholts Farm on the right.]
The event will take place under a tent on the beautiful and historic grounds of the Carey Conference Center, featuring hors d'oeuvres and small plates of peak-harvest, local foods prepared by the area's top chefs, craft brewery samples, and music by Black Mountain Symphony.
Tickets are $40, and include food and craft beer samples.
Earlier on AOA: Touring the Hilltowns, a farm at a time
We're always curious about where our food comes from. Not in an obsessive, super foodie kind of way -- it's more just being interested in how something growing in the ground, or grazing in a field, ends up on our plate.
So we recently asked Sarah Gordon, founder of FarmieMarket, if she could show us around a few farms out in the Albany County Hilltowns. Sarah knows a lot of the farmers there through her work with the market. But she also grew up there -- on a farm.
Sarah was nice enough to agree -- and last week we toured a handful of farms with her...
Check it out: FarmieMarket, the local online farmers market, has added a dairy to its lineup of producers. And it's a goat dairy.
Regina, originally from Germany, has more than twenty years in the restaurant business working as a chef and restaurant owner in Florida and Manhattan. A few years ago, she decided to get out of the restaurant business and redirect her passion for gourmet food at the grassroots level by starting her own value-added goat dairy. So, in 2007 the Bryants moved to the Heldeberg Hilltowns, started a family, and dug in to build their farm.
After years of planning, practice and labor, they have grown their goat herd, built their own on-site cheese making facility, and earned their New York State inspections to begin selling their cheeses and other goat products to the public. The Bryants have skillfully built their goatherd to comprise a medley of all the beautiful dairy breeds, including Oberhasli, Toggenburg, Alpine, Saanen and LaMancha.
FarmieMarket is selling Goats & Gourments feta cheese in beet dressing, feta cheese in Italian dressing, dill medley chevre, and apricot-honey chevre.
photo via FarmieMarket
The folks at theNew York State Museum and Geological Survey confirmed that there was yet another earthquake in the Hilltowns this morning, this time a 2.8 magnitude. So that makes three recent little quakes and one big one (from far away).
Dr. Chuck Ver Straeten at the State Museum said that this morning's quake, which happened in Berne at 9:13 this morning, was the biggest of the three that have gently rocked the area in the past four days. Earthquakes in the Hilltowns are common. Between February of 2009 and March of 2010, there were 37 of them! But Dr. Chuck says they don't have anything to do with each other -- they are all coincidental and all from deep in the earth. More people are just paying attention to earthquakes this week because of the one in Virginia that was also relatively mild.
Earlier on AOA: From 2009: More shaking in the Hilltowns
Looking to stretch our legs and get some fresh air this weekend, we headed out for the Huyck Preserve in the far southwest corner of Albany County.
We had a great time. Have a look...
A new local online farmers market, called Heldeberg Market, launched today. Here's the setup:
- On the market's website, you pick a basket of products available from farmers in the hill towns of Albany County -- everything from herbs to maple syrup to wool
- Pay online
- Orders submitted by Tuesday at midnight are delivered the Thursday of that week to either your workplace (during the day) or home (during the evening). There's free delivery for workplaces that have five or more orders.
Greg sent along a gallery of photos from the "snowpocalypse" out in Westerlo. He says he spent the weekend "helping my girlfriend's family dig out from the insane amount of snow that got dumped on them."
Insane is the right word. While the central Capital Region just got slushy rain toward the end of last week, the snow just kept falling in western Albany County. An observation station to the west of Thacher Park recorded snow depths of more than 3.5 feet by the end of last week.
From Greg's description of the gallery:
There's a few pictures of us excavating her brothers car, and some shots of the abandoned barn that collapsed across the street (no cows were hurt). The first picture is of Hartford, CT the same day as I drove back from a work trip.
Other places weren't so lucky -- CBS6 reported that farm animals were killed in two separate barn collapses this past weekend in the hill towns.
Weird and difficult budget process could be ahead, jury selection in Raucci trial, RPI knocking down presidents house, man robs supermarket with a note
Pundits say David Paterson's now-lame duck status could be the beginning of a very weird and difficult state budget process. That has some people -- notably Sheldon Silver -- calling for lieutenant governor Richard Ravitch to handle the budget negotiations. Meanwhile, the head of the state Democratic Party called Andrew Cuomo "all but the presumptive nominee" for governor. [AP/Post-Star] [NYDN] [TU]
John Sweeney pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DWI Friday afternoon. As part of the deal, he's up for 30 days in jail -- and he'll have to wear an alcohol monitor on his ankle after he's released. He'll also have to do 300 hours of community service. [Daily Gazette $] [Saratogian] [TU] [WNYT]
Jury selection is scheduled to start today in the trial of Steven Raucci. The pool of potential jurors for Schenectady County Court has been doubled to 675 this week. Raucci faces 26 criminal charges, including arson and terrorism. [TU] [Daily Gazette $] [Daily Gazette $] [CBS6]
Fatal shooting in Schenectady, kids credited with saving horses from fire, Cannon Building shut down, push to redevelop First Prize Center
Police say a man was shot and killed yesterday in Schenectady -- allegedly by his girlfriend's former husband. Police say they've arrested the alleged shooter, who they say is an active duty serviceman who was on holiday leave. [CapNews9] [TU] [Fox23] [WTEN]
Schenectady cop Dwayne Johnson pleaded not guilty yesterday to the 15 counts in his indictment, which include four felonies. Prosecutors allege that Johnson defrauded the city by working as a security guard at a gas station while he supposed to be on duty. Johnson topped the pay chart for Schenectady cops last year thanks to overtime pay. [Daily Gazette $] [CapNews9] [TU] [WTEN]
A group of "kids" is being credited with helping to save a bunch of horses* from a big barn fire in Colonie. A 12-year-old was apparently among the first to smell smoke and take action to evacuate the animals. All the horses were saved. The Gazette has a remarkable photo of the fire, which firefighters say was stoked by strong winds. [CBS6] [WTEN] [CapNews9] [Daily Gazette] [TU]
Three adults and one teen in Knox pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges they tortured and blew up a turtle last year. Police say they found video of the alleged turtle bombing this year during a raid for an Internet scam case. [Troy Record] [CapNews9] [TU]
The quakes have been clustered near Berne
There were two more earthquakes near Berne last night, according to the seismographic network that monitors this area. They were described as "micro earthquakes," though one of them was 2.9 -- which is relatively strong for this area.
These little quakes have almost become common in the Hill Towns. There have been 20 there since February.
Voters testify about alleged ballot fraud, man arrested for shooting dogs, Troy police set trap for suspected muggers, live poultry market opens
A string of Troy residents testified in court yesterday that that their absentee ballot applications contained fraudulent information. And the voters mentioned that a handful of Troy city and Democratic officials had approached them with absentee ballots. A state Supreme Court judge will decide whether the ballots should be tossed from the recent Working Families primary election. [CapNews9] [Troy Record] [WNYT] [TU]
The allegations of ballot fraud spilled over into last night's Troy city council meeting. Democrats and Republicans squabbled over a proposed resolution that would suspend two city marshals who have been accused of being involved with the alleged scheme. [CBS6] [Troy Record]
And handful of local municipalities released proposed budgets: Jerry Jennings' Albany budget keeps the tax levy the same, but shifts more of it onto residential tax payers; Harry Tutunjian's proposed Troy budget includes a 4.25 percent property tax increase; the proposed Colonie budget keeps the tax levy the same, but shifts a little more on commercial property owners; Clifton Park's proposed budget uses $900k from its reserve fund to balance the budget. [TU][Troy Record] [TU] [TU]
The Albany County sheriff's department announced yesterday that it had arrested a man for shooting those two dogs in Berne. Police say the man told them he killed the dogs because they were killing his chickens. The man's attorney says the dogs also killed two calves and threatened the man's family. The sheriff's department says the man isn't being charged under Buster's Law because he didn't kill the dogs in a "depraved or sadistic manner." [TU] [WNYT] [CapNews9] [Fox23]
First H1N1 shots on the way, more concern about mercury near LaFarge, man accused of trying to force snot burger, Troy library district approved, reward increased for dog shooting info
Several hundred healthcare workers were at the Capitol yesterday protesting state regulations requiring them to get a flu shot. They said they're worried about having to serve as "guinea pigs" for the new flu shot against their will. Richard Daines, the state's health commissioner, says the H1N1 vaccine has been prepared the same way as the regular seasonal flu vaccine -- and healthcare worker vaccination is a matter of patient safety. [Troy Record] [CapNews9] [Fox23] [CBS6]
State wildlife pathologist Ward Stone reported yesterday that tests he performed on soil samples from the neighborhoods near the LaFarge cement plant in Ravena indicate elevated levels of mercury. Stone says much of the mercury is from the plant. (Previous studies have reported that the plant is one of the state's biggest emitters of mercury. Erin Brockovich was recently in Ravena on behalf of a law firm to talk with residents about mercury pollution.) Stone did not conduct the study as part of his job with the state -- and the DEC says it will review the results. [CapNews9] [Fox23] [TU] [WNYT] [TU]
Crews working on the Delaware Ave reconstruction project turned up what appears to be five coffins from the 19th century. Archaeologists will be checking out the site today. Jack McEneny says the coffins are probably left over from an old cemetery that was moved in 1910. [Fox23] [CapNews9] [TU]
Schenectady police say a man has been charged with child endangerment after an incident in which he allegedly tried to make his girlfriend's daughter eat a hamburger with his snot on it. [TU]
Obama at HVCC today, Bruno not invited, Paterson told to drop out, transcript indicates chief used slur, men accused of blowing up turtle
President Obama's appearance at HVCC today is scheduled for 11:30 am. There were no tickets made available to the public. Video from the event will be streamed on HVCC's web site. Update: Lou's posted details about how to get the stream working. [HVCC] [HVCC]
Obama's speech is expected to focus on the economy and industries such as alternative energy. HVCC was likely chosen because the Obama Administration has been touting the potential of community colleges to train workers for these industries. [Troy Record] [TU]
Not on that list of officials: Joe Bruno, who says the White House told him specifically that he was not invited -- and told WNYT that he's "hurt by it." Bruno's pork prowess helped fund many of the projects Obama will be highlighting. [WNYT] [TU]
The White House has reportedly asked David Paterson to drop out of the 2010 gubernatorial race. Paterson says he's still planning to run. The President is expected to meet with Paterson today during his visit to the Capital Region -- and with
gubernatorial candidate state attorney general Andrew Cuomo. [NYT] [AP/Troy Record] [NYDN]