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Farming for the Future

Staying true to roots while embracing change is nothing new to Steve and Jill Pennings of Pennings Farm Market, who’ve run the orchard and market there for more than 20 years. Steve says agricultural traditions are a staple of his family heritage, but he’s also combining those ideals with new technology—the Pennings are looking to add solar panels to their marketplace off Route 94.

“We’re keeping a difficult industry, agriculture, prominent, or at least with a face to it here in Warwick,” he says.  Especially in the fall, when hordes of visitors venture to Warwick for apple picking and Applefest (which draws upward of 30,000 people to the village on one day each autumn), the farms and orchards are the main attraction. From there, the tourism dollar trickles down to other businesses around town—retail shops, restaurants, bed and breakfasts.

Kristen Ciliberti, co-owner of the Tuscan Café, a coffeeshop favored by bohemian and young patrons for its off-the-main drag location and live music, says she often becomes an unofficial tour guide, fielding calls about village events, giving directions, and answering questions from curious city-dwelling folk. “I’ve literally had tourists on the street stop me and ask why it smells,” Ciliberti says, referencing Warwick’s active farms.

But Warwick’s smell may be endangered—when the Pennings discuss the new Price Chopper, they do so with a quiet resignation. The supermarket is poised to move in on their turf, offering local products almost literally across the street from their farm market. There’s no way to compete, Steve says, so that means they’ll have to adapt. They’ve already got plans to make their market a little less of a market, and more of a café experience, serving local hard ciders, a hearty meal, and a good helping of local music.

While they’re hoping that the new buildings will drive traffic into the village, many others are keeping their fingers crossed that it won’t be driving it away. “This village is special because it’s surrounded by farms,“ says the mayor. “The minute we start losing our grip on that we start losing our identity.”

RESOURCES
Albert Wisner Public Library www.albertwisnerlibrary.org
Bellvale Creamery www.bellvalefarms.com
Frazzleberries www.frazzleberries.com
Newhard’s The Home Source (845) 986-4544
Warwick Historical Society www.warwickhistoricalsociety.org
Tuscan Café www.tuscancafe.net
Pennings Farm Market www.penningsfarmmarket.com
Warwick Chamber of Commerce www.warwickcc.org
Yesterday’s www.yesterdaysnet.com
Village of Warwick www.villageofwarwick.org
Warwick Valley Winery www.wvwinery.com
The Eclectic Eye www.theeclecticeye.com

The 1810 Old School Baptist Meeting House at the corner of High and Church streets in Warwick - ROGER GAVAN
  • Roger Gavan
  • The 1810 Old School Baptist Meeting House at the corner of High and Church streets in Warwick
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