Perched along the rural Route 208, its metal sign peeking above the treetops, Tantillo’s Farm Market is a picturesque, quaint Hudson Valley farm stand. Since its opening in 1932, four generations of Tantillos have been born and raised on this farm—literally. Len Tantillo was born in the white cottage that stands to the right of the market, and he and his three children still live in homes on the farm.
“Although my dad’s 80 and my mom’s 77, they are not ‘retired’” says Jeannine Ridgeway, one of Len and Beverly Tantillo’s three children. “Well they are retired, but they’re not retired.” While Ridgeway’s been running the market for the past seven years, this is the first year her parents are officially stepping back from running the orchards, where the produce for the market is grown and customers can pick their own apples and other seasonal fruits.
Following the Tantillos’ official retirement, the farm has undergone some organizational changes. Ridgeway’s brother, Frank Tantillo, now runs the orchards under the business Tantillo Farm, LLC. Visitors can still pick apples from 9am-4:30pm, Friday through Sunday, but there will no longer be tractor-pulled wagon rides. And the market, which is now its own separate business, will only sell produce that’s already been picked. “That’s a little bit of a change for the customers to come,” says Ridgeway. “They’re still seeing the same faces here, but it’s a different business now.”
Tucked away behind crates of produce and shelves of canned goods, Ridgeway and a small but mighty crew prepare the baked goods that the farm stand is renowned for. Her parents are still involved in the market, sitting in the small kitchen with her as she finishes making the pies for the day. Fruit jams, apple pies with towering domed tops stretched over three pounds of apples, and blueberry pies ready for customers to take home and bake are just a few of the things that come out of the kitchen in the fall, along with the farm’s famous apple cider doughnuts, of course.
Voted best in the Hudson Valley, the Tantillo’s cider donuts are made with a family recipe that originates on the farm. “My grandmother used to make all the doughnuts. We literally started doing them on this table with my mother’s grandmother,” Ridgeway says. These days, the production line has changed slightly to meet increased customer demands, but Ridgeway still has the now-vintage metal cutters they used to use to punch out each doughnut. “That’s how we made our doughnuts for years,” Ridgeway recalls fondly. “Then we got these doughnut robots.”
On weekends, Tantillo’s farm market is bustling with visitors. Ridgeway’s husband Jamie runs two doughnut machines nonstop to keep up with the demand. Customers can shop for multiple varieties of apples picked fresh on the farm, along with other seasonal produce including heirloom tomatoes, Swiss chard, kale, peaches, eggplants, pumpkins, gourds, and purple string beans. “Our varieties are different,” Ridgeway says. “My goal is for people that come to the farm market to find something that they can’t get at Hannaford's, because that way, they want to come here.”
The market also sells produce and artisanal products from local farms and makers. Potatoes and corn are brought in, along with tubs of pickles from Montgomery-based Corey’s Pickles and flavored goat cheeses from Lynnhaven, a Pine Bush dairy farm. “I try to keep to the environment here,” Ridgeway explains. Since 1989, the market’s been selling soft serve and hard ice cream from Gardiner’s Gillette Creamery out of an adjacent stand. They make sundaes, including a hot crisp apple specialty made with apple filling and oat crisp topping baked in the kitchen.
Beyond the eateries, Ridgeway believes that people come to Tantillo’s because of its homegrown and family-oriented, non-commercial feel. Perched outside the farm stand, you’ll find Adirondack chairs overlooking the Catskills. There are lawn games and kids can play on the playground while parents do a grocery shop. In an era of agritourism, when every farm seems to be trying to outdo the next with attractions and activities, Tantillo’s purview is refreshingly simple. “We don’t have the petting zoo and the cow rides and the potato shoot,” Ridgeway says. “We’re a working farm. When you come here you’re going to see everyone pitching in and working on it.”
Tantillo’s Farm Market is open 10am-6pm, seven days a week through October. The ice cream stand is open from 2-8pm.
Tantillo’s Farm Market
730 NY-208, Gardiner