by Jay Blotcher
New Paltz’s Wallkill View Farm Market combines the traditional values of a three-generation farming family with a modern savvy for innovation.
Founded in June 1960 by Peter and Carol Ferrante, Wallkill began as a farm. The couple’s five teenage sons were their work force, planting, harvesting, and selling vegetables at farmer’s markets. They switched gears and began selling produce from a covered wagon on the property. This gambit proved so successful that a formal market was constructed on the site in 1976.
In the ensuing years, additions were built, including two greenhouses and a building to showcase seasonal items like flowers, pumpkins, gourds, and Christmas trees. A bakery now offers pies, muffins, scones, cinnamon buns, cookies, breads, and the well-known Wallkill View Farm apple cider donuts, all baked fresh daily.
The entire operation is now co-managed by Danica Ferrante, the eldest of Peter and Carol Ferrante’s ten grandchildren, and her uncle Sande. Danica can usually be found in the bakery, her main responsibility. However, her tasks include seeding crops and flowers in the greenhouses. “I have worked at Wallkill View Farm Market for over 20 years,” Danica said. “One might say, my whole life. I started working in the store itself about 20 years ago, but even earlier than that I would work with my father in our greenhouses transplanting flowers or making Christmas Wreaths with my grandmother.”
Patriarch Peter Ferrante remains involved in the business five decades later, plowing fields. His annual ritual is planting myriad rows of sunflowers along the farmland on Route 299 all the way to Libertyville Road.
Wallkill View Farm Market remains a family affair: it is co-owned by the son of Peter (also named Peter) and his brothers, Rob, Sande, and Tim. Other family members pitch in on all operations, from greenhouse management to accounting to crafting the Christmas wreaths.
That strong sense of family is extended to patrons who are invited to linger during visits. There is a small, seating area for visitors by the fireplace for nippy weather, as well as an outdoor patio with a walk-up window for ice cream in the summer. In the autumn, children (and children at heart) are invited to frolic in the hay tunnel on the property, pick-their-own pumpkins, or get lost in the corn maze. Hayrides appeal to all ages.
“We have always tried to foster a warm, country, family atmosphere in our farm market,” Danica said, “and nothing pleases me more than to hear that our customers feel like part of our family when they visit us.”
Change and expansion are crucial to the business; Wallkill View must compete with supermarkets in the area, and their offerings continue to grow. The garden center offers annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, soils, fertilizers, and pottery. They have recently added topsoil, stone, and mulch by the yard. Summertime brings homegrown produce, including local fruits and berries, that taste far better than supermarket fare that is picked unripe and travels long distances.
The bakery now includes locally made ice cream, gourmet foods, maple syrup, honey, and even artisan-made greeting cards.
“We love to support local businesses and try to offer as many local products as possible,” Danica said.
Keeping Wallkill View within the family also means a greater control over quality goods. “Every item we sell in our store is hand-selected by a member of our family,” Danica said. For the future, Danica may add soups, salads, and sandwiches to the bakery menu when she expands the square footage.
Customers respond strongly to the sense of tradition at Wallkill, Danica said. Longtime patrons bring children and grandchildren to the market. “Whether it is a weekly visit for fresh fruits and vegetables, an ice cream cone at our bakery, or an annual visit for pick-your-own pumpkins or choosing the family Christmas tree, we love that trips to our Farm Market have created so many traditions and special memories for many families.”
Wallkill View Farm Market
15 Route 299, New Paltz, NY 12561