Saturday, June 8, 2013

Living Local and Loving it!

As a child, my parents exposed my sister and I to lots of British television and movies.  Although there were some exceptions, most of the shows and movies were set in some idyllic village; a cluster of thatched or tiled-roof cottages set cheek-by-jowl around a meadow, green or garden- usually sporting a charming bandstand or summerhouse. The denizens of the featured hamlet shopped daily with their bicycles, baskets and trollies at the village green-grocer and made routine appearances at the local pub. The rosy-cheeked children would ride their ponies and horses through the relatively car-free lanes and walk to the tiny village school- returning home for lunch to waiting Mums with steamy plates of cheese and fresh bread and frothy cups of local, creamy milk. Daily life was studded with Fetes and Festivals, during which the village was transformed by fluttering flags, streamers, balloons and groups of musicians in traditional garb playing old-time tunes.

Really? Is that sort of lifestyle really possible? Or is it just scripted for the cameras?


I grew up and faded into young adulthood secretly chasing that subconscious wish for a life set in an English village; a slow pace- walking out of the house, pushing the baby carriage (leaving the top of the arched Dutch-door open, of course), through the wee garden gate and down the lane to the grocer's shop. Waving to passing villagers and stopping to admire the flowers that border the village green.

I had it all laid out in my mind.

But twenty-something years later, I was still driving everywhere in my car, rushing about to "get things done" and "stay on top" of the latest fads and wishes that would wash in waves through my suburban existence. I raced around on endless highways with my SUV loaded with huge economy-sized bales of paper towels, canned goods and plastic wrapped meats in their styrofoam trays sitting atop blood-absorbing "diapers". All to get the best! Lowest! Family-sized! Price! Ugh.

Then one day, was too much. I just couldn't do it any more.

I began to formulate a plan to return to my dream of living a slower, more peaceful, higher-quality style of life- preferably in a quiet village somewhere. Through research, I found that English village life was indeed a reality and not just scripted for the cameras. I dove into my search for an American village that would meet at least some of my ideals and wishes. Finally, on my 40th birthday- an early September day that was a remarkable 107 steamy degrees, I threw a dart at the map- in the form of Google- and found Newport, New York.

My husband and I bought acreage in Newport and began to develop our own small farm that we call Winter'rest Farm. We found a tiny house in a neighboring village and moved there from North Carolina in the summer of 2012. (See previous post "The Gift of an Old Girl")
Newport Marketplace features a full rack of Bob's Red Mill products!
There are still highways to travel, and I still have an SUV. But the pace and quality of life here is perfect for us and our children. Villages in the Kuyahoora Valley- where Newport is nestled-  are surrounded by farms of all kinds; farmer's markets abound and villagers support local businesses and tend to stay local if possible. Folks on horses clip-clop by the house every so often, and the clatter and rumble of Amish buggies is a routine occurrence. Children- and adults- ride their bikes everywhere and several folks use their lawn tractors to ride down the street to visit neighbors. Even the climate in Newport is similar to English weather!

As I began to explore the area, I found businesses that I really liked and wanted to support. One of those is Newport Marketplace. Opened just a few years ago, owners Dick and Patty Marko bring wonderful, local and small-producers products to their store shelves. They believe in local and seasonal sourcing and are even establishing their own farm - Hill Side Meadows Farm- to help supply their customers.
Newport Marketplace carries products that are old-fashioned and delightful. They feature high-quality healthful items like coconut oil and ground flax seed.
A bright, shiny wall of cold-storage shelves are stocked with local dairy producer Stoltzfus Family products. There is Amish butter and plastic bags of creamy and delicious cheese curds. Patty stocks her own free-range eggs which are right next to the cheeses of another local business: Three Villages Cheese Co.

River Rat Cheese Co. 4 year sharp cheddar, cut as much as you like!
There are big, clear bags of oats and flour. There is dried fruit, vanilla and local honey. Jugs of local maple syrup and muslin bags of corn meal crowd loaded shelves, alongside little zip-lock bags of spices and other delightful culinary bits-and-bobs.

Next to the check-out counter is a tall stand with a checkerboard adorning the top. Crowning the surface of the game-board is a giant block of 4-year sharp cheddar, produced by River Rat Cheese Co. in Clayton, NY- a couple of counties north of Newport. Patty keeps a big chef's knife next to the lump of cheese; just hack off as much as you like!

Piles of delicious bacon and sausages!
Behind the River Rat Cheese is a low glass freezer chock-full of bacon and sausage supplied by local Mennonite farmers. Bags are simply labeled with the item name, weight and price. The meats are in clear plastic bags so that customers can see what they need to see: the product!

Everyone needs some gummy fried eggs!!
 Newport Marketplace is not just a grocery store. There are antiques and architectural salvage, decor, handmade items and art. It's a real gem of a business wedged between Highway 28 and the West Canada Creek.

On this day, I left with my paper grocery sack full of oatmeal, ground flax seed, vanilla, craisins, cheese curds, honey and sausage links. I am thrilled that there is a business like this just 4 minutes from my house. The Markos are part of a thriving village life that makes it possible for those of us who have transplanted themselves willingly, in order to benefit from what this valley has to offer.

The Kuyahoora Valley is just one of many American small towns, villages and hamlets.  There are many ways to live in this great country and this is the way we have chosen: living local and loving it!

Bragg's organic apple cider right next to local producer Ford's Honey


  1. Very nice post.
    You really can't beat life in the small towns we have around here. Newport is a gem, Dick and Patty Marko are the nicest people, and the Marketplace is a wonderful little store.

  2. Thanks Kim! It's really the best place to live! Cheers!