By Brian P.J. Cronin
What’s going on at Pennings Farm Market? What isn’t?
Steve Pennings never thought he’d be a cafe owner. Or a pub owner. Or a doughnut maker or cider maker or someone who books bands to come play long into the cold winter Warwick nights. “Some days [my wife and I] just step back and ask ourselves, ‘What the hell have we created?’” he says with a laugh. “[W]e’re very proud of what we’ve done here. Although I’m very devoted to just being a farmer.”
Photos: Courtesy of Greg Rhein
Steve’s still a farmer, like his father before him, who traveled from Holland in the 1930s to start a dairy farm in Warwick. Steve and his nine siblings grew up on the dairy farm before Steve’s brother Jack bought another local farm in the early 1980s to begin an apple orchard. The 100-acre orchard and farm are still being run by the family, but around the turn of the millennium, Steve and his wife Jill started to concentrate on the farm’s market on Route 94. The boom in weekly farmers’ markets in the Hudson Valley and supermarkets’ increased willingness to look local for produce were a boon for the Valley’s farmers but made it tough for a business like Pennings Farm Market to stand out. Suddenly, what they were offering wasn’t unique anymore. “We were very challenged for a number of years,” says Steve. “Which is why we started thinking out of the box.”
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