NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - About six years ago, Laura Hollister was up early and driving past the intersection of Bloomer Road and Peach Lake Road (Route 121) when she realized the corner farm stand was on fire. There were two kittens inside. Hollister managed to save one of them.
When she then learned that the shop was for sale, she knew it was her karma. She bought it, christened it The Country Farmer, and soon transformed it into a local institution: a garden center and distributor of all sorts of local produce. You will find dairy products from the Hudson Valleys Ronnybrook Farm , fresh mozzarella from Vinnys in Pawling, Clean Ridge Soap from Pound Ridge, bug and tick spray from Honey Birch Farm in Brewster, and natural meat from North Salems Snow Hill Farm . There is jewelry, art and woodwork by local artisans and even locally made flip-flops by Hula Girl of Brewster.
When people drive by theyre always surprised to come in and see all the different things we have, said Hollister.
All this is in addition to locally grown produce and eggs from Hollisters own chickens. She has 23 hens and lives right down the road.
Hollister grew up in Ridgefield and took a year off from college to do the horse show circuit. The year is still going on, she said.
For a while I custom-designed needlepoint belts. You could put someones entire life on a belt. I shipped them all over the world. She has also been president of the North Salem Historical Society and handled finances for the Open Land Foundation .
These days The Country Farmer takes up most of her time. Its about nature and animals and color and helping people whether theyre looking for plants or something to trap evil spirits. We have the best customers. We try to keep it as a community, she said.
Did we mention that Hollister is also an ordained minister and specializes in energy work?
If you are wondering about those clever signs that appear on the fence, many of them are customers suggestions. The most popular? Give Peas a Chance Grateful Bread Peony Envy Nice Asters and currently, Plum Crazy.
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