Interview with Rail Trail Café owners: Tara Johannessen & Brian Farmer

Rail Trail Cafe

Perhaps the last thing you’d expect to find while hiking or biking on a wilderness trail is an adorable organic microgreens-growing cafe. But take a trip down the Wallkill Valley rail trail and that’s exactly what you’ll find. We’re thrilled to talk with Tara Johannessen & Brian Farmer, the owners of the renowned Rail Trail Café, to hear all about this hidden gem. And don’t forget to join us on September 24th when our monthly Weekend Wander series takes to the wheels with a group ride from Kingston to the Rail Trail Café and back (We’re gonna earn that slice)!!!

What made you decide to open the Rail Trail Café?
We wanted to be able to work from home. There seemed to be a need when foot and bike traffic increased with the new extended trail via the trestle bridge. We wanted to create a greater sense of community by creating a local economy. And last, but not least we wanted to sell our organic food and produce.

What was your initial vision when you designed the menu?
Simple nutritious, organic, vegetarian. Something for everyone. A place where kids could come from around the neighborhood and be able to buy a goodie for cheap.

Do you grow much of the food yourselves?
We grow maybe 30 or 40% of the produce. All the kale, tomatoes, herbs, microgreens. And we have sourced some of the micro-greens from Big Little Farm as well.

What are your best sellers at the café?
Rosewater lemonade, salads, and pizza.

What are some of the challenges of serving food in the great outdoors?
The greatest challenges are the rain and severe heat.

Do you do special events?
We’ve had weddings, fundraisers and there’s music every weekend.

What’s your favorite trail in Ulster County?
We really love the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail because its flat, shady and crosses both the Rondout and the Wallkill rivers.

What part of the Kingston Greenline are you most excited about?
All of it.

Fave Color: The whole spectrum of colors is magnificent!!
Fave Movie: Magnolia
Fave Song: Chenrezig Mantra Song
Fave Food: Micro-greens
Fave Book: “The Red Book” by Carl Jung

For more info on the Rail Trail Cafe, visit their site and like them on Facebook.

Tara and Brian serving up deliciousness

Tara and Brian serving up deliciousness

Live music plays every weekend.

Live music plays every weekend.

The pizzas... ARE NOT TO BE MISSED!


The Rail Trail Cafe in it's element.

The Rail Trail Café in it’s element.





















Smorgasburg Upstate in review

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On breezy and sunny days in the warmer months, everyone aches to be outside. They look out their office windows or homes and then gather in sculpture parks or have picnics. Visit swimming holes or dine in a friend’s backyard. In the Hudson Valley, we are lucky enough to have endless outdoor options any given day. But now Saturdays are a special day for Kingston. Saturdays mean the Farmer’s Market, and right now, Saturdays mean Smorgasburg: UPSTATE.

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I came in to the food industry by way of the fashion industry, where I traveled almost constantly around the world, shopping and designing for a living, and eating some of the most amazing food on the planet. There was nothing better than a good market. ESPECIALLY if it was open air. You’re tired, and you want to maximize your day. Whenever I hit a market, I have a routine. This is my Smorgasburg routine

  • Get at least 3 other people to meet me there. Preferably more, that way each person can get in a different food line and procure something hot and yummy, the more unique the better.
  • Set up shop at a picnic table, marvel in the sun, and get comfy discussing the previous evening and future events.
  • Settle in for the food! Photograph, take a bite and pass it on, so you can try a little bit of everything and decide on your favorites.

Hillbilly Banh Mi from PAKT in midtown, Scrapple and Country Ham!

Raclette and goat cheese sourdough pizza from ITSA Mobile Pizza Oven












  • Full and happy, its time to grab a beer and hit the flea market section. I like to pick up unique versions of things that I need or procure gifts for future birthdays and holidays that I will admittedly forget about and then be glad I already shopped for them. Plus you get to meet people from various different industries and connect for future projects.
  • Now back to the food. But packaged food this time. You have a full week ahead of you and you want to be ready. Maybe some pastries and coffee for the morning, or hot sauces to keep the fridge stocked.

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At the end of the day, you’re outside. You’re supporting your community. You are voting with your money, the most influential vote there is. You are so lucky. WE are so lucky!

“Vendor, Customer” Photo by Elke Wong

“Vendor, Customer” Photo by Elke Wong

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Eryn Stutts, Mouth of Madness, Filler of Bellies and Dream Wrangler at PAKT Kingston, an eclectic southern restaurant. She is also known for her alter ego, SweaterMeat, and

GARDEN WORDS: South Pine Street City Farm

Trish and Joel in front of the stand with yellow crookneck and white pattypan squash.

Trish and Joel in front of the stand with yellow crookneck and white pattypan squash.

A little friendly reminder… The South Pine Street City Farm Stand has been selling fresh, naturally grown herbs and vegetables (using organic soil and seeds with no pesticides) to Kingston residents and visitors for the past 5 years. Located at 27 S. Pine St in Kingston (map it), the stand’s hours are 3PM – 7PM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (now through Thanksgiving)

Farmers Trish Hawkins and Joel Zenie would like to share with you this heartfelt poem, titled Garden Words by Anne Lamott:

“The garden is one of two great metaphors for humanity. The garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things. The garden is about feeding your children and providing food for the tribe. It’s part of an urgent territorial drive that we can probably trace back to animals storing food. It’s a competing display mechanism, like having a prize bull, this greed for the best tomatoes and English tea roses. It’s about winning. About providing society with superior things, and about proving that you have taste and good values and you work hard. And what a wonderful relief every so often to know who the enemy is – because in the garden the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time. And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth and growth and beauty and danger and triumph – and then everything dies anyway, right? But you just keep doing it.”

Now, enjoy this mini photo tour of what’s growing at the South Pine Street City Farm!

Farmer Trish and the Cosmos

farmer Trish enjoys strolling in the Cosmos and Queen Anne’s Lace.

Did you know cucumbers are the 4th most widely cultivated "vegetable" in the world

Did you know cucumbers are the 4th most widely cultivated “vegetable” in the world

Tomatoes... An extra table holds the overflow.

An extra table holds the overflow of tomatoes.


Garlic... Say no more!!!

Garlic… Say no more!!!
















Joel and Barbara Stempke with turnips and kale.

Joel and Barbara Stempke with turnips and kale.









Trish Hawkins and Joel Zenie are close companions. Trish is a former actress and longtime member of the Circle Rep Theater company in NYC. Joel used to work at the Kingston Library. He volunteered at South Pine Street City Farm three years ago when Kaycee Wimbish was the farmer. Then he spent a summer learning from and working for Oleh Maczaj at Rusty Plough Farm near Ellenville. Two years ago, Trish noticed that the South Pine Street City Farm looked a bit abandoned, so she called Jess Clark, who had founded the farm, to inquire. Jess contacted the Kingston Land Trust and it so happened  there was an opening for farmers! Trish and Joel met with Diane Davenport, who most kindly donates both the land and the water. Diane agreed to Trish and Joel becoming the farmers. This is Trish and Joel’s second year at South Pine. They are very grateful and feel blessed to be able to grow vegetables for the community and keep learning about the art of farming.

Crown Street Planter Readopted

KLT planter

After sitting unclaimed for nearly two years, the Crown Street planter has been readopted by the Kingston Land Trust; and to think it only took one person an hour and a hundred dollars to get it back in action! When it was brought to the Kingston Land Trust’s attention that this KUBA (Kingston Uptown Business Association) planter had not been matched with another organization since we cared for it in 2014, I volunteered to take it back on.

I wanted to demonstrate that it does not have to be a huge commitment to spruce up a small public space. Having studied landscape architecture, I followed the basic plant selection criteria for low maintenance public plantings that I absorbed at the New York City Parks Department: perennial and minimal watering needs.

Sedum fit the bill and I knew they would be available and affordable at Adams, so I headed out to see how many plants I could get with the allocated money. Staying in the succulent palette, I chose a range of forms: upright, spreading and cascading, to fill in around base of the lonely tree. With the plants in tow, plus three bags of organic potting soil (to supplement the existing soil) and my hand shovel and fork, I headed to Crown Street.

Planting was a breeze and I felt proud as people walked by, knowing that I was supporting their experience of this city as pedestrians, especially in this spot that could use a little beautification, since it is in front of a lackluster parking lot.

I am now considering how I can further embellish the planter without further expense. I intend to collect river stones and ask for transplants from friends’ gardens. In fact, with enough creativity and dedication, anyone in our community could do a public planting without cost. I would welcome the opportunity to work with others on stewarding additional installations around Kingston, especially on land that is neglected, as well as planting something more impactful, like edibles that could be harvested by passersby, or native plants to support pollinators.

Julia has been a Kingston resident for less than three years, but she’s decided to put down roots. She is looking forward to applying her background in urban design to the enhancement of a public and green spaces by serving on the board of the Kingston Land Trust.

Weekend Wander: Sept (BIKE) Edition

Join us for the 5th edition of this season’s Weekend Wander series… WITH YOUR BIKE! In this Wander, we’ll be riding bikes along the northern end of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail to the Rosendale Rail Trail Café and back. #KLTWander #WeekendWander

WHO: Kingston Land Trust
WHAT: Weekend Wander – August (BIKE) Edition
WHEN: Saturday, September 24, 9:30AM – 12:30PM
WHY: Easy Ride with epic views, lakes and caves.

A leisurely, 16 mile bike ride along the northern section of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. We’ll take a break at Williams Lake then off to the Rail Trail Café and back. Keep checking our site for more details on future hikes. #KLTWander #WeekendWander

Weekend Wander: Sept Bike Edition Route (Wallkill Valley Rail Trail)

Sustainable Saturday Parking Lot Party

and8acvqqsjj_s_ra1n50vvp4dd6jgfkyru-ogwm9iry8sccecznbhmr7tu4tukijiavycde-zs4ahledgk_dq7i4z6brs_7c6rspmwlylwtwb-j6wzd_cwuyygy6iliwpfxwoix874ypm2ymzzjpsukfvgcxscx4ld1lris0-d-e1-ftUlster County, New Yorkers for Clean Power, City of Kingston, Sustainable Hudson Valley, the Kingston Climate Smart Committee, Solarize Hudson Valley, Sierra Club and RUPCO are sponsoring a “parking lot party” at the Ulster County Office Building parking lot to highlight electric vehicles and sustainability initiatives in Ulster County.

WHO: See the list of organizations above…
WHAT: Sustainable Saturday Parking Lot Party
WHEN: Saturday, September 17, 11AM – 3PM
WHERE: Ulster County Office Building Parking Lot:
244 Fair Street, Kingston, NY 12401
WHY: Sustainability equals Survival

Come listen to live music, learn about sustainability initiatives in our area, check out the electric vehicle auto show and test drive an Electric Vehicle.

Kingston Night Market: Sept Edition / Finale

kingston-night_The Kingston Night Market’s 2016 Season Finale! Join us at this pop-up street festival in the Rondout neighborhood of Kingston. Lower Broadway is transformed via lighting, live music, food and vendor booths. The market features local artists, makers, businesses, non-profits bringing people from all over the Hudson Valley together.

WHO: Kingston Night Market
WHAT: Kingston Night Market: Sept Edition/Finale
WHEN: Friday, September 16, 6PM – 10PM
WHERE: Lower Broadway in the Rondout:
Kingston, New York 12401
WHY: It’s a great way to celebrate Kingston, its waterfront and all the amazingly creative merchants that live and work in the area.

Click here for more info on the Kingston Night Market.

Ride Like You Mean It: Adult Bicycle Education Program

3qzyqrayhnrfxyq4yo_dvxtnqqhlcabiolfz8zi2kkh0mu6niygjk5mq99czp2ceulbe6vdrjraqgug5t33lw-ykdokuwsymffyf7lesyfkhnsclugwlnri1vp3mdwuxjza6w1nlqs-n6vugamohiaxwt2oi1e6oc-75p68s0-d-e1-ftAn Ulster County education program geared to the needs of adults! For adults who already know how to ride a bike, but are interested in learning more and gaining more confidence when they ride. Class will feature interactive classroom discussion and on-bike instruction and practice. $50.00 Registration. Scholarships available!

WHO: YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County
WHAT: Ride Like You Mean It
Adult Bicycle Education Program
WHEN: Thursdays, Sept 15, 22, 29, 5PM – 8PM
WHERE: YMCA of Kingston:
507 Broadway, Kingston, NY 12401
WHY: It’s NEVER to late to learn!

Enrollment limited to 12 students. Bike and helmet required; participants may bring their own or use the Y’s. For more info, call instructor Tom Polk at 845-338-3810, x102 or email

Smorgasburg Upstate: September

smorgSmorgasburg: Upstate is here! Brooklyn’s finest market now has an outpost in Kingston! This weekly market will feature some of the Hudson Valley and upstate region’s most exciting chefs, food purveyors, and craft brewers alongside a curated selection of handmade design, vintage clothing and antiques.

WHO: Smorgasburg
WHAT: Smorgasburg: Upstate!
WHEN: Saturdays, Now – Oct, 11AM – 6PM
WHERE: Hutton Brickyards:
200 North St, Kingston, NY 12401
WHY: Get ready to EAT, SHOP & EXPLORE with some of the Hudson Valley’s best chefs, restaurants, designers and shop keepers.

Open Saturdays through October in the historic Hutton Brickyards overlooking the Hudson River.

Bike It! Kids Cycling Program

bike-itBike It! is open to kids aged 10-15 and consists of eight sessions held on Saturdays, Saturdays, Sept 10  – Nov 5, from 9am to 12pm. Each session includes instruction and a bike ride. All participants receive a T-shirt, water bottle, patch kit and bike multi-tool. Bikes and helmets are provided, or bring your own. Registration: $35 YMCA Members, $50 Non-members. Scholarships are available.

WHO: YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County
WHAT: Bike It! Kids Cycling Program
WHEN: Saturdays, 9/10 – 11/05, 9AM – 12PM
WHERE: YMCA of Kingston:
507 Broadway, Kingston, NY 12401
WHY: Kids are Bikers too!

For more information, call Tom Polk at 845-338-3810, extn 102 or email