Each year, I like to support local organizations by hosting benefits at my farm in Bedford, New York. Last fall, I worked with the board of the Bedford Audubon Society to celebrate its 100th anniversary. On a spectacularly beautiful afternoon, an avid group of bird lovers gathered to honor this venerable institution and support its mission to protect and preserve wildlife and habitats in and around our region.
I have 45 bird feeders on the farm, and I am a longtime admirer of all kinds of birds -- from majestic bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and elusive owls to the diminutive ruby-throated hummingbirds searching for nectar all over my gardens. Hosting such a party was a natural and lovely opportunity to say thank you to the society. This chapter does so much good work both for the environment and the community. (To find your local chapter, visit audubon.org.)
My daughter, Alexis, and her two children and many of our friends attended the celebration. We were happy to look on as the society acknowledged donors, researchers, and honorees including Laura O’Donohue, an organic farmer in North Salem, New York, for the bird-friendly practices at her Snow Hill Farm, as well as Albert Caccese, for his years of work for Audubon New York and for securing a critical land easement for natural bird habitats.
The day was pristine -- cool and clear -- and the farm looked its absolute best. I gathered colorful squash and pumpkins to use as decorations, and master carvers from Historic Hudson Valley embellished additional pumpkins with wonderfully intricate bird renderings. I picked herbs and vegetables to use in the preparation of hors d’oeuvres, and designed fabric banners, using Audubon art as inspiration, for wall and window hangings and table coverings. An “early bird” offering for special donors included a tour of the garden, with me as their guide.
The stable’s cobblestone-paved courtyard was the ideal spot for the food and drinks, and because the party was late in the afternoon, the hors d’oeuvres were substantial and plentiful. My horses stayed in their stalls and offered a bit of humorous interjection throughout the event -- during the speeches and acknowledgments, they kicked the walls of their stalls in spirited agreement!
Ground beef, snowhillorganicfarm.com
Desserts, sherryb.com; macaroncafe.com
Printed napkins, foryourparty.com
Pumpkins and gourds, jonesfamilyfarms.com
Pumpkin carving, hudsonvalley.org