Here in the Hudson Valley were are blessed with an over abundance of local agriculture, and at this time of year getting down on the farm to revel in the local abundance is a must! When most think of farming, we can’t help but conjure up images of Grant Wood’s classic portrait of the husband and wife in “American Gothic”.
However, don’t be mistaken – there are many gay farmers here in our very own backyard! We asked you, the readers of BGHV, to tell us about your favorite gay farmers, and one name that kept coming up again and again was Billiam and Rene at Liberty View Farm right here in Highland, New York. Perhaps you’ve heard of Liberty View Farm before? They are incredibly advanced from a technological stand point for a small farm, and much of the traffic they drive to the farm is through their e-mail blasts and website.
Nestled on a tidy 11-acre lot in off of 44/55 in Highland, Liberty View Farm is owned by Billiam and his partner Rene. A figure head in politics here in the Hudson Valley, Billiam has spent many years working for the rights of not only the LGBTQ Community – but also for those of local farmers – right here in the Hudson Valley. Patrick and I heard about Billiam through mutual friends, so a few weeks ago we stopped by on a Saturday afternoon to learn more about their farm.
The first thing we noticed was the over abundance of goats and kids (baby goats) that we could see as we drove into the farm. As we rounded the corner, there were apples as far as the eye could see, and lots of people milling about checking out not only bountiful farmstand, but also the flea market and pet adoption information tables that he had set-up on site as part of his regular “Cow-Munity” days. Needless to say, I was captivated not only the apples, but also baby chihuahuas (so friggin’ cute!) and the o’so fabulous vintage Shaw-Walker office chair from the 40’s that we found for only $5 at the yard sale – not to mention this sleek art deco cocktail set for just $8.
Directing our attention back to the farm stand, we sampled a delicious assortment of home made delicacies prepared by Billiam’s partner, Rene, who – when not out working on the tractor – spends his weekend cooking and baking a variety of quick breads, jams, pickles, and even home made paprika from the crops grown on the farm. Bustling with peppers, colorful eggs from heirloom hens, zucchini, apples, and bunches of fresh herbs and cut flowers, Billiam’s farm stand is a great way to buy local!
After wandering around the farm for a short while, we were introduced to Billiam himself, who welcomed us with a great smile, and told us all about the operation. We learned that not only can you support a local farmer by selecting items from the farm stand, but you can also “Lease an Apple Tree”, or simply “Charter Your Own Chicken”. No, these are not euphamisms, but they are instead two examples of the innovative programs that Liberty View Farms Offers to help its visitors learn more about farming and sustainable agriculture.
By leasing an apple tree for $50 a year, you are entitled to the 80 – 120 pounds of apples that it will yield in the months of September and October. Not only do you receive a historic copy of the lease for the your tree – adorned with iconic Hudson Valley images – you also get a sign designating one particular tree as yours. Its is then up to you to come back throughout the season to enjoy the fruits of Billiam and Rene’s labor. At only an average of 50 cents a pound for these apples, you’ll have enough to share with all of your friends!
Visiting Liberty View Farm is a great way to spend a cool fall weekend down on the farm picking apples with your friends and family – so support a gay farmer by visiting Billiam and Rene this fall. They are open Saturdays and Sundays – or during the week by appointment. To learn more about the farm, please check out Liberty View Farm online.