The Catskills: A Natural Dream Park
I moved to Delhi, NY from Philadelphia, 23 years ago with my husband and baby daughter. We were young artists, eager to escape the constraints of the city and start a new adventure in a quaint country setting. The adjustment was difficult and at times, (Read It Takes A Village Idiot: A Memoir of Life After the City) to catch my drift. I honestly wondered if we had made the right decision. Reflecting now, Delhi and the Catskills, for that matter, have changed in many ways over the last 2 decades, yet remain a natural dream park. After 911 there was a mass exodus from NYC. Buying old farm houses, farms and land, building new and renovating, new comers added an element that was slipping away, which I define as a passion for the natural beauty found in the Catskills Mountains. There seems to be a new enthusiasm for the area, somewhat of a re-discovery and I include myself in this movement.
The seeds of prosperity have finally sprouted and it seems many "Main Streets" in Delaware County's small towns (Andes, Bovina, Delhi, Hamden and Bloomville) are enjoying the benefits of success due to new shops, eateries and an influx of fresh residents. Kabinett & Kammer in Andes offers a curated mix of vintage items. With a sophisticated country vibe, Stewart's Department Store in Delhi, sells home decor, clothing and boasts an old fashioned sewing section. Just outside the villages, farms, such as the Lucky Dog Farm in Hamden, are growing and selling specialty produce available locally as well as in NYC through a food hub. Dairy Farms in the area are making a come back. Creameries like Betty Acres Farm and Bovina Valley Farm, craft various cheeses, milk, yogurt and cream. Working with local farms, restaurants, such as Table on Ten in Bloomville and Brushlands Eating House in Bovina, utilize the "farm to table" mantra offering the freshest ingredients the land has to offer.
A witness to the transition, the rolling foothills of the Catskills luckily remain unchanged. Development and land restrictions implemented by the Watershed Agricultural Council and huge land purchases by the NYCDEP have stitched the area into a natural dream park. Home to many hiking trails, a 26 mile Rails to Trails bike path as well as rivers, lakes and reservoirs the outdoor enthusiast is never at a loss for activity.
In the early 90's when we arrived in the area, the lack of culture and an appreciation for the arts was disheartening. It was somewhat surprising given the fact that many artists were living and working in the Catskills. But venues like the West Kortright Center and the Roxbury Arts Group have consistently promoted local visual and preforming artists. They offer workshops and draw nationally and internationally acclaimed artists. Today, a delightful mix of locals and new residents make up the community. I travel often for business and when asked, "Where is Delhi? ", I respond "it's inconveniently located, and I like it that way." The Catskills are a little slice of green heaven that I am lucky to call home.