Slow Road Episode 2 – Returning to our Roots

It has been a tremendous Fall and already the snow has began to coat the ground and trees as we head toward the Holiday Season. We couldn’t think of a better time to release our latest episode while families are gathered this holiday weekend, and as we may already be thinking about our relationships to each other and towards our favorite places during this special time of year. I was recently struck by the thought of so many using the “slow roads” to connect with the people and places that matter most to them – driving to mom and dad’s house for Thanksgiving Dinner, visiting other friends and relatives to gather,  and meeting up with people in our favorite local places in our hometowns.

Route 21S on the way to Naples, NY in our Mini.

Route 21S on the way to Naples, NY in our Mini.

Episode 2 is a look and study of what it means to be “slow” and why it is important to our lives. The word slow takes on many meanings and has even been used to describe pro-local movements that include terms like “slow fashion” and “slow money.” We felt strongly that our first episode branded the idea of the roads themselves as we took a summer day drive to a nostalgic and retro drive-in. You may watch that Episode here if you have not already.

Roots Cafe - Naples, NY

Roots Cafe – Naples, NY (Photo by Steve Carter)

Episode 2 is about learning why it matters to slow down and absorb that which is around you, and perhaps even more so than our first episode, discusses why it matters to connect with the people and places that matter the most, places that feel like our own sort of “home.” Our Episode features a beautiful drive via Route 31 East leaving the hustle and bustle of the City of Rochester on Monroe Ave to visit historic parks and main streets, and then finally a southern journey through the meandering hills and valleys along Route 21 South to Naples, NY.

We ended our day at the appropriately named “Roots Cafe” located on Main Street in Naples – a converted Victorian farm homestead it serves as a perfect representation of all things slow and homely. Roots Cafe features a farm to table menu that is rooted in its own local community’s agriculture and located in a former home itself.

Roots Cafe - Farm-to-table Menu

Roots Cafe – Farm-to-table Menu

We invite you along our journey and hope you enjoy our latest episode, please do share this with your family and friends if you do and we hope you will explore the places we may have introduced you to!

WATCH EPISODE 2:

To visit the Palmyra/Macedon Aqueduct Park continue along Route 31 just outside of the Village of Palmyra, NY – https://goo.gl/maps/Qd6nm
To visit the 4 corner churches https://goo.gl/maps/1nsXx
To visit the wonderful Roots Cafe travel to 197 Main Street (Route 21) in the Village of Naples, NY – https://plus.google.com/110147722809563958602/about?gl=us&hl=en

We encourage your continued support to help us continue to capture the spirt of place and people in an unprecedented way through Slow Road! To support our journey visit slowroadtravel.com/donate.

Advertisements

The Accessibility of Escape

As we enter into the New Year one of the themes I want to communicate and live towards involves the concept that the feeling of escape can be accomplished much more easily then we realize.

Often we are under the impression that a break from the stress of our daily lives or escape from monotony needs to come from an elaborate, expensive, or long duration vacation and so we travel far and wide to embody the concepts of freedom and to explore the unknown, in an effort to find a place that feels “less than familiar.” Do we ever stop to consider how accessible these feelings and experiences are?

As I write this I am sitting in one of many places where I have found the same feelings of freedom “mental transportation” that I have encountered on trips far and wide. Perhaps those feelings are not as intense as the mountain top experiences in the Swiss Alps, perhaps these feelings don’t feel as intense as the “unknown” when I was recently driving through the desert to Santa Fe, New Mexico, but they exist with me here and now. It is even possible that because this place represents somewhere largely unknown to me (and is a place where I am largely unknown) that a sense of freedom exists that is reminiscent to other experiences that I have had. The ability of this place to inspire such feelings creates a sense of belonging for me, and I find myself feeling favorable towards my surroundings.

Today this place is the quaint charming (and somewhat forgotten) historic village of Scottsville in the town of Wheatland, NY located only 15 miles from where I live in the City of Rochester. Often we ignore what is directly around us and I truly believe that we suffer because of it, we miss the ability to make our “escapes” accessible and so instead we feel frustrated that our desired freedoms feel so far and difficult to accomplish. Forgotten places suffer as well, because we fail to realize that our interest and engagement of them has dramatic effects. Will anyone remember me in Santa Fe? I highly doubt that, but I find myself believing in a place like this that I will be remembered.

This small ignored town has become very meaningful to me and because of that I desire to tell others that this is an experience worth having and a place worth visiting.

Travel to somewhere forgotten and you may just realize that you can find part of yourself in that process.

It’s never as far as you think or as difficult.

When you go:

Visit the Artisan Coffeehouse to feel the pulse of the community and to see if you too can find that sense of belonging.

Visit the Free Library to be inspired by the past while you can sit and write about your future.

Links:

Artisan Coffeehouse
http://www.artisancoffeehouse.com/

Scottsville Free Library
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottsville_Free_Library

The Village of Scottsville

http://www.scottsvilleny.org/

The Village of Scottsville on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Village-of-Scottsville-NY/337398322352

bringing community along

Very often in my quest for “place-making” I find myself taking on a lone-ranger identity as I meander the back roads across New York or elsewhere in search for those communities, history, and places that will become memorable. There are aspects to this approach that I genuinely like,  I slow down the pace of a very busy and often chaotic schedule with Graduate school and working outside of it. I enjoy having the time to really think and clear my head as the scenery transforms before me, and sometimes I just like the fact that I’m out there doing this on my own in the spirit of exploration and adventure.. I’m well aware at this point that this trend will continue because it’s something I’ve found that brings me a great deal of purpose and satisfaction and is something that is so signature to who I am.

I greatly enjoy getting to meet people along my journey’s as well, strangers who become somewhat known as they introduce their places to me. Recently however I’ve been really dwelling on how much I enjoy sharing new experiences with people and so recently I decided to plan out a road trip with me and six friends who interact with my life in very different and separate circles at times.


The destination was obvious for me, it was a place I hadn’t been in quite sometime but have always loved and I knew it was time to return. The city of Ithaca, NY is one of my favorites cities in the entire state of New York, and it often reminds me of my time spent out in the Pacific Northwest where I lived for a summer back in 2008.  The city is surrounded by serene natural beauty, gorges, waterfalls, and the Lake Cayuga waterfront with no major city nearby and reflects its cultural identity in this way as an island amongst the finger lakes, and in an area surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and farmland with communities that make up the Amish, Ithaca acts as a solid dose of counter-culture to all that surrounds it.

I have been a sort of travel ambassador to Ithaca over the years ever since I was captivated by the place from an early trip there with my best friend (which I believe was back in 2004). Since then I have encouraged many people to come visit with me to experience the natural beauty, great restaurants and pubs, and wealth of eclectic locally based shops that encompass everything from old books to music stores, to vintage clothing and more. Ithaca is a place I have grown to love and to encourage others to experience.

There is much that I can go on to talk about regarding the destination of Ithaca, but it is the spirit of moving away from purely destination based thinking when it comes to the travel that I want to discuss. So much of what made this trip memorable was about sharing the experience with others and the tremendous joy I find in introducing people to new and exciting things.

It’s this idea of “community travel” that I want to focus on and how unorthodox this concept really is when we begin to realize how linear we can become when we think about tourism and travel. At times we put an enormous amount of pressure on the idea that the place (destination) is what must “make” our trip, instead of considering that it is the journey itself, this notion of transformation, is what helps us to extend into new perspectives and added value. I believe that this “transformative value” can only be compounded when we realize that it can be shared.

It’s this concept of continual and perpetual added value that fascinates me, what becomes obvious with any given travel exploration is that we are seeking value in our lives in a way that is traditionally unfamiliar to our routines and is something that can somehow engage us in a way that becomes memorable (as observed in previous posts). At the end of the day do we plan accordingly to reach these ideals though? Is it even a conscious thought in our minds that we are looking to add value in our lives when we travel?  I want to suggest and hypothesize that perhaps we are not looking as much for “place” as we are for “belonging” and this ability to feel connected to each other and to community( even while traveling).

In introducing the Ithaca trip with six friends from Rochester I want to emphasize that what I believe made this trip valuable and rewarding was the fact that we were able to share the experience with one another, and we were able to find connection with one another. One other major point I would like to illustrate is my belief that something like travel, (especially when it is a first time shared experience) can emphasize these connections more than ever. Perhaps travel could even be one of the ideal vehicles to enable relationship and connection to one another. This could emphasize the importance or potential benefit of  “community travel.”

One of the beautiful things about the trip to Ithaca was that many of the people who came didn’t know each other well or at all before we embarked on this winter journey from Rochester, and yet a bond and connection was made over the simple concept that we were experiencing something together for the first time. It is those interactions, those discussions, those moments of light-hearted laughter, singing along to music in the car, and pointing out things on the horizon that we all believed we might find mutually valuable and engaging that made for the most memorable, satisfying, and entertaining experiences.

As beautiful as Ithaca was at the end of the day what I remember was the people and personality of those I traveled with that made it such an incredible trip and more importantly the ability to introduce friends into this world I knew existed, for the first time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Above: Playing around with some stop motion burst mode shots by dancing in Ithaca Commons (these are just a few entertaining shots taken from the bunch

All Photos by Paul Stanley Beinetti

I encourage you to explore the photos posted in this blog and look at them through the lens of connection and these ideas of “community travel” do they change how you perceive travel, do you feel that the ideology of “community travel” could be branded as an added value or relationship building experience?

long overdue

This really is just a brief blog post to illustrate how horribly overdue I am for posting one. I will be posting thoughts I have had, and (in some cases travels) over these past four months. I encourage all of you no matter how busy you get to always keep writing. It will be one of my great passions moving forward to keep my thoughts, ideas, and inspiration flowing throughout the course of this summer as many exciting opportunities, adventures, and experiences lie ahead.

I am entering the critical junction within my Masters degree program at RIT to begin my Capstone project (essentially my thesis). With my coursework now complete, I look forward to attaching my signature to the ideal relationships of public policy, tourism, and marketing concentrations I have employed in an attempt to comprehensively develop creative and innovative solutions, for urban and community development.

My passions for the arts, the slow food movement, and the dynamic form of truly “localized” expression have never been greater and I look forward to sharing my concepts, theories and ideas moving forward!

As always I welcome your feedback and the opportunity to learn from you as well!

Thank You,

~ Benjamin J. Woelk

Reaching Beyond our Farmers’ Markets-The Good Food Collective

As stated in my previous post, I wanted to devote my next entry to the conversation I had with Chris Hartman about the Good Food Collective and the idea of our region’s local rural farms looking for ways to get food into urban communities.

Chris was generous enough to take the time to talk with me in detail about the South Wedge Farmers’ Market and his desire to build off of the Farmers’ Markets to continue to find ways to bring healthy food into the communities of Rochester.

He was the founder or the South Wedge Farmers Market back in 2007. The market was started with a desire to infuse an urban neighborhood with producer-only vendors from  farms across central New York State. The Good Food Collective is a gathering of  local farms and is demonstrating a new model to bring local food into Rochester.

In my conversation with Chris, he highlighted the wonderful benefits of what something like a local farmers’ market means, and spoke of the same ideas of “place-making” and the idea that farmers’ markets are rich in social capital…the wealth and value that each person brings who attends that market (the Regulars per “Farmers Markets as Place-making”).

There are great positives to having farmers’ markets, but Chris also pointed out the issue with farmers’ markets being inefficient. Why is this the case? The access to fresh food is limited. Traditionally local markets only run once a week and for a few hours. They are seasonal and weather dependent, and farmers travel great distances (in this case up to 100 miles) to bring fresh food to market. Even the hours they spend at market may take away from other farming duties. With the belief that farmers markets should continue to exist, Chris also stated the need to create localized food systems that would benefit the community as a whole over the long-term.

Chris Hartman from the Good Food Collective explains his vision for a community food network

This is where the Good Food Collective excels. The Good Food Collective is a collaboration of Chris’ company, Head Water Foods Inc., and the partnership of nine other local farms. Those farms differ in their offerings but I have listed them below with a brief description and links so you may learn more about each of them.

The nine farms represented include:

Chicory Blue-featuring cut flowers, and pesticide/fertilizer-free vegetables

Clearview Farm-certified organic vegetables herbs and fruit, non-organic free range eggs

East Hill Organic Farm-organically grown vegetables, honey, apples, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, eggs, and hay

Fraser’s Garlic Farm– organic garlic, potatoes, leafy vegetables, root crops, edible pumpkins and certified organic eggs from free-range chickens.

Honeyhill Farm-certified organic, pasture-raised chickens & beef, vegetables and 20 tomato varieties.

Lighthouse Gardens-greenhouse grown annuals and perennials including herb and vegetable starts.

Mud Creek Farm-chemical/pesticide-free vegetables

Organic Matters Farm-Eggs from free-range hens, certified organic vegetables

Raindance Harvest-Sustainably grown transplants, mixed greens, and assorted vegetables.

Together these farms are assisting in the vision of a multi-farm CSA or Community Supported Agriculture model for the Good Food Collective. In a CSA, people buy into farms as shareholders an in return receive a share of the farms weekly harvest. This model enables the farms to receive support and money up fron,t and to benefit people with local and fresh produce (see the offerings of each farm above).

The commitment of Chris Hartman and Head Water Foods Inc. is to bring, “individual, social, economic, and ecological health to the Rochester community.”

I want to thank Chris for his commitment to bringing Rochester’s agricultural offerings to the surface, and to bringing attention to the incredible wealth that our local farms are injecting into our city. I ultimately believe that if we can continue to highlight the profound local and regional agriculture that exists around Rochester, we can become known as a world class agricultural destination.

The impact on our neighborhoods, our city, and our communities could be tremendous! Support our local farmers and support our city in becoming known for our agritourism.

On the Web:

The Good Food Collective

Edible Finger Lakes Article (Chris influence on the South Wedge Farmers Market)

The South Wedge Farmers Market

“The Food Less Traveled”-The South Wedge Farmers’ Market

I had the recent privilege of attending the South Wedge Farmers’ Market for the first time this season and found the market to be a wonderful place of dialogue and community. This market is a wonderful example of the organized efforts of the South Wedge Planning Committee (SWPC), and reflects the commitment of the organization to build community throughout the neighborhood. [The market meets every Thursday from 4-7 pm at 100 Alexander St. (Boulder Coffee Parking Lot.)]

The market is officially run by the SWPC which serves one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city of Rochester. I am proud to call this my new neighborhood and just moved here this past May (more on that in another post perhaps).

The South Wedge Farmers’ Market has been an inspiration to many other markets in the area because of  its strong focus on community, commitment to local produce, and neighborhood identity. The market is now entering it’s 4th year anniversary.

The market has a very strong focus on very local produce and goods, and boasts the fact that everything at the market comes from no more than 100 miles away. The official motto of the marketplace is “the food less traveled.”

My attraction to this market comes in the utilization of the market as a “third place” as stated in my previous blog post “Farmers Markets as Place-making.” The greatest attribute of this market is that conversation is the main activity. This is stated in no way to undermine the fact that the produce and goods are as fresh and local as you can imagine, but instead speaks to the ability the market has to educate and create dialougue around healthy food, healthy people and community well-being.

"Conversation is the Main Activity"

As stated on the SWPC website, the South Wedge Farmers’ Market “educates and encourages healthy eating for long term health.” The educational experience with this market is like nothing else I have experienced in the area up to this point. The day I attended the market, Jill Stackpole of Bloomfield Honey was speaking on how to be a beekeeper and demonstrating how we get our honey.

Bloomfield Honey Observation Hive and Hive Smoker

Everything about this market was engaging, whether I was learning about organic baking methods from Small World Bakery, learning about Bloomfield honey and beekeeping, or learning about incredible wine varietals from Jerod and his family-run Leonard Oaks Estate Winery.

I had an incredible conversation with Chris Hartman from the Good Food Collective, who is also the founder and manager of the South Wedge Farmers’ Market, about the desire to move “good food” into the communities of Rochester. I will devote my next article to discussing this topic and his efforts.

Leonard Oaks Estate Winery Wine Tastings

This market had the ability to engage and educate, and as I looked around I genuinely felt that people were not only getting to experience this market as a “third place” and a place of community, but also getting to learn about the food and the incredible people and processes that had brought healthy and local food to them.

As this market continues to flourish, my hope is that the model demonstrated through SWPC will continue to spread into neighborhoods associations and planning committees across Rochester area neighborhoods. These markets need to be seen as a way to bring cultural vibrancy and community well-being to the people of our city.

On the Web:

The South Wedge Planning Committee (SWPC)

The South Wedge Farmers Market

Facebook Page for The South Wedge Farmers Market

Small World Bakery

Leonard Oaks Estate Winery


Making the Asphalt Come Alive

In my continued engagement of our local farmers’ markets, I have began to realize just how much life these markets have the ability to bring to our different urban neighborhoods across the city of Rochester.

One such market has given me a very real picture of how much transformation these markets are capable of creating.

The Monroe Avenue Farmers’ Market is set in one of the busiest sections of downtown Rochester with very high traffic flow and an abundance of asphalt in the region.

A sea of asphalt around the market

Here, at the Blessed Sacrament Church, new life is being fed into this community by transforming a  parking lot into a public space. This parking lot assumes new character and new life during the hours of 4-7 pm every Wednesday, throughout the summer.

As the first vendors began setting up on this past Wednesday, I was struck with the idea that these markets really do, “make the asphalt come alive.” It’s not often that we can take something as utilitarian as a parking lot and add vibrancy, beauty, and community to it, but that’s exactly what has been occurring every week at this market.

Making the asphalt come "alive"

On this particular day, a variety of vendors fills the parking lot with sights, smells, and sounds and it appears to me that the market itself redefines where the center of Monroe Avenue is.

Pedestrians, dog-walkers, and passerby’s all take notice of the market and many begin to wander into the market to see what it has to offer.

There is a acoustic folk musician playing while the smells of fresh local flowers, brewed coffee, and grilled hot dogs and “carrot hots” waft across the market. The beautiful displays of produce and plants adds green and an assortment of fresh color to the black asphalt floor of the marketplace.

Today the market is featuring a local artist who has designed hanging chimes and jewelery made out of driftwood and recycled wine bottles and other glass. The sunlight beautifully reflects in the color of the artists work and brings yet another level to the experience and beauty of the marketplace.

Recycled Glass Art

It is the fact that this place becomes such an attraction to those in the area that intrigues me. This place becomes a new center of attraction for both the residents and passerbys on Monroe Ave on this hot summer day. What was simply a neglected parking lot just a few hours ago is now a source of experience and attention.

I can’t help but wonder how many places exist so similar to this place. How many parking lots do we have that sit unused that may have the ability to actually serve a purpose such as this one?

We need to bring life to these places.

Can you think of local areas that could be transformed in a similar manner in your own neighborhood or urban area? How much asphalt could we animate and create life around?

These are some areas I will contemplate as I continue my studies in how our farmers’ markets are creating places of life and community.

On the web: The facebook page for the Monroe Village Farmers Market