21 October

A Food Revolution By The Young Lifts Up Our Town And The Food We Eat. “Where Are We, Really?”

by Jon Katz

When it was dinnertime, Maria and I drove two miles down the road and pulled into a parking lot behind a vegetable stand. Corey and Sarah, the creators of Shift Wood Fired Pizza,  had just pulled their cart up.

We ordered a small wood-fired pizza, a falafel sandwich, and a  fresh Ceaser salad. We waited about 15 minutes – there soon was a line – and went home to eat it.

This might seem like no big deal to your city people, but it was a miracle. This was top-quality healthy food, fresh, well prepared, and delicious – and the meal cost $32. This is an $80 meal in Brooklyn if you could get in.

We are living smack in the middle of a food revolution in our out-of-the-way village sparked by young economic refugees with food carts and new ideas who are discovering that our village is a lovely, inexpensive, and beautiful place to live.

And there are apparently lots of opportunities here. We are underserved in many ways.

Before the pandemic struck,  it was the custom of many of the brightest kids on the farms and in our town to move to cities like Albany, Burlington, Vermont, Boston, or New York.

The conventional wisdom was that there were no opportunities here. Kids went off to college and never returned. They had their own dreams.

Until now.

The children who had taken over the farms here for centuries increasingly decided this wasn’t the life they wanted and left. Nobody expected them to move back.

Then the pandemic came, and everything changed. Many of those kids lost their jobs or couldn’t afford the cities. Many moved back here to live with their parent’s farms, to take up the craft and specialty work they loved, and rent much cheaper apartments. Like the old farmers, they answered the call to a calling, not just a job.

Many city people bought houses here with cash and moved, transforming the feel and structure of the community.

When the pandemic ended, a lot of kids decided to stay. Some had no choice.

One became a gifted and successful wood maker in town; another took up very modern plumbing; a third is a successful handyman. But the idea of bringing a new foot of a city that only had every successful but traditional diner seemed to take off.

Young people don’t want diner food, I think, they want fresh food with a lot of vegetables. And we know all of these kids, have welcomed them back, and are grateful for their presence.

Others – Ashley and Gordon –  came back from Burlington and showed up at the farmer’s market selling baked goods that instantly sold out.

Corey and Sarey restored an old food cart. They opened Shift Wood Fired Pizza), which offers delicious wood-fired pizza, sandwiches, and salads (tonight, I ordered the small Margherita with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and a Cesar Salad.

Maria got a falafel sandwich with hummus, romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, cabbage, and lemon tahini dressing.) They sell my new favorite salad, the Harvest Grain Bowl with farro, kale, roasted sweet potatoes, sweetened cranberries, crumbled goat cheese with a shallot vinaigrette.

When I saw the menu, I turned to Maria and asked, “where are we, really?”

Pretty sweet for a small village in upstate New York.

Ashley and Gordon announced this week that they’ve taken over a former coffee lounge nearby Greenwich and will serve fresh egg sandwiches, coffee, and pastries for breakfast and sandwiches and desserts for dinner.

Maria and I love to eat out – we work at home all day – and suddenly, there are excellent choices for us, an embarrassment of riches.

Older people are changing too.

Aladdin and Natalya, Farmer Market regulars (the Army Of Good helped their family get to America from Ukraine), are moving to Brooklyn to open a cafe there,  and Bob and Bonnie Warren opened up A Little Paris in Greenwich, offering freshly made crepes three days a week.

A new Laotian restaurant opened 20 minutes from here in Schuylerville, Maria and I are going there on Sunday to try it out.

The younger entrepreneurs generally look for low rents – they are wary of brick and mortar –  or refurbished food carts and few or no employees to keep their costs down. They are innovative, flexible, and agile.

They make great food and have a lot of new ideas about making and selling it and keeping their costs low.

The food cart idea is brilliant and catching on – no mortgage, rent, overhead, or employees.

Until a year or so, we had to drive a long way – Saratoga Springs, Bennington, Williamstown  – for good food. Now we go  down the road a few miles.

The movement of young people back into the community has been a significant boost culturally and economically. They bring a unique energy and creativity to sleepy and sometimes stagnant rural communities that have often calcified.

I think many people are happy that their kids are coming back, even if it’s not to work the farm. The rest of us are happy for the great food they are bringing us.

They have formed their own community in many ways; the new food entrepreneurs are friends and support one another, trading ideas and experiences.

I hope every one of them succeeds. I believe they will. The young shall inherit the earth and almost certainly make it better than we did.


  1. very nice to read…… not only does this speak volumes for the younger generation returning and working hard to establish themselves again….but it speaks volumes for the community in which you live……. it is the support from them that will enable these new entrepreneurs to thrive! I also wish them success!
    Susan M

  2. I left the farm for the big city too, learned the skills it offered and I always felt bad that the rural people, so good at heart and helpful with their neighbors, hard working knowing the value of labor, became the object of derision because they hadn’t become part of the elite. So called elite. Part of it wasn’t really true but just a perception. but I think both the pandemic AND the Four Years of Hate urged by _rump et al. made us re-look at what’s important:
    connected families, nature’s richness and beauty and we also just got sick of the hate and noise of those years. Young people do have to learn a lot of skills their parents didn’t, but the pandemic taught us how to do it.

    I’m sure sociologist scholars will be very interested in your observations around this. You’re one of their spies. Observers.

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