The Women of the Hudson Valley

Last Updated June 03, 2017
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Rose Viggiano of Chatham Hill Honey slowly removes honey from a hive.
Photo by Damon Jacoby

"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass."

--Maya Angelou


Take your pick. Any one of these women are products of the blood, sweat, and tears that got them where they are today. Listen to each one's story and discover who really runs the Hudson Valley.

The Warm Spirit: Sharon Burns-Leader, Co-owner of Bread Alone Bakery

Sharon Burns-Leader gets ready to put some loaves in the oven.
The first thing Sharon Burns-Leader ever baked was a pretzel. She was 9 years old. “My mother didn’t know what to do with me—I was always...

The Artist: Rose Viggiano, Proprietor of Chatham Hill Honey.

Honey being harvested at Chatham Hill Honey in the Hudson Valley.
Some say TV rots your brain, but in Rose Viggiano’s case it enlightened hers. While watching a “Nova” special about honeybees, she was...

The Omnivore: Barbara Fisher, Proprietor of Barb’s Butchery

Owner of Barb's Butchery hard at work in the meat cooler.
Playing with meat might seem like an odd career choice for a former vegetarian, but Barb Fisher says it was the food industry, not meat,...

The Lady Farmer: Ruby Duke, Charcutier & Co-owner of Raven & Boar Farm

Owner of Raven and Boar Farm in East Chatham prepare charcuterie.
Ruby Duke describes herself as “persistent,” but that’s only one of many traits essential to being a farmer, charcutier, designer, mother...

The Alchemist: Jori Jayne Emde, Producer at Lady Jayne’s Alchemy

Owner of Lady Jayne's Alchemy stands amongst her vinegar and condiment creations.
There is a long and storied folk tradition of women—witches, healers, midwives—who use time-honored practices and ancient herbal remedies...

The Mistress of Ceremonies: Nini Ordoubadi, Proprietor and Tea Server at Tay Tea

Nini Ordoubadi, of Tay Tea, raises a glass of her tea, made with local Hudson Valley ingredients.
Tea flows through Nini Ordoubadi’s veins. It is deeply ingrained in the Persian culture of her birth and an enduring part of her family’s...

The Prophet: Sojourner Truth, Abolitionist & Women’s Rights Activist

Illustration of Sojourner Truth by Libby VanderPloeg.
Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in the late 1790s as Isabella, a slave of the Hardenbergh family in Swartekill, now Rifton, Ulster...

The Third Generation: Laura DeMaria, Farmer, Owner & Shopkeeper of Hemlock Hill Farm

Owner of Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortland stands among whole cows ready to be butchered.
The story of Hemlock Hill is long and, at times, tragic. The 120 acres in Cortlandt Manor has been in the DeMaria family since 1939, when...

The Advocates: Glynwood's Kathleen Finlay & Sara Grady

President and Vice President of Programs at Glynwood in Cold Spring take on farm and food issues in the Hudson Valley.
KATHLEEN FINLAY President, Glynwood She made her way to her current job as president of Hudson Valley’s Glynwood through “a respect and...

The Influencer: Colu Henry, Cookbook Author & Tastemaker

Back Pocket Pasta author, Colu Henry, sips a cocktail.
Colu Henry’s Back Pocket Pasta does what used to seem daunting: It helps me cook dinner on the fly, with whatever’s in my pantry. We are...

The Kitchen Beast: Sajin Renae Perino, Culinary Research & Development, & Chef at The Cookery

Chef at The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry tames the flames in the kitchen.
Chef. Mom. Vegetarian. Workout fiend. Sajin Perino manages the delicate balance of work, family and self-care with style. It’s an admirable...

The Brewmaster: Nikki Cavanaugh, Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Rushing Duck Brewing Company

Owner of Rushing Duck Brewing Company in Chester enjoys a beer.
Nikki Cavanaugh wouldn’t let poverty keep her from a good time; she learned to how to brew in college because she couldn’t scrounge...

The Mover & Shaker: Donna Watson Haynes, MTA Metro-North Railroad

Promotional Partnerships with MTA Metro-North Railroad are better than ever thanks to Donna Haynes.
MTA Metro-North Railroad regional tourism contenders like Dia:Beacon, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, The Culinary Institute of...

The Matriarch: Joan Dye Gussow, Food Policy Expert

Food policy expert, Joan Dye Gussow, has been educating eaters in the Hudson Valley for years.
For nearly half a century Joan Dye Gussow has been an outspoken critic and analyst of our industrial food system. Known as the matriarch of...

The Culinarian: Agnes Deveraux, Proprietor of The Village Tea Room

Owner of The Village Tea Room in New Paltz celebrates cooking with local ingredients.
“Originally I was going to open a little bakeshop. Baking is really my passion. But we changed our business plan and decided to open a...

The Voice: Ruth Reichl, Cook, Critic, Editor, Author, Memoirist, Novelist, Television Producer & Twitter Superstar

Ruth Reichl feels at home in the Hudson Valley.
There is no writer on Earth who has mastered as many media as Ruth Reichl. Not only did she start her career cooking alongside Alice Waters...

The Empire Builder: Bonnie Saran, Westchester Chef & Restaurateur

Chef & Owner of Little Kabab Station, Little Crepe Street, Little Spice Bazaar, Little Mumbai Market, & Little Drunken Chef
The restaurant industry welcomes many paths inward, but, still—Saran’s path to owning five Westchester restaurants is strange. Raised in a...

The Naturalist, Laura Silverman, Founder of The Outside Institute

Founder of The Outside Institute, Laura Silverman, foraging in Sullivan County.
Enter the home of writer, forager and cook Laura Silverman and you will not leave feeling unnourished, unnoticed or, frankly, unloved....

The Medicine Woman: Dana Eudy, Co-Founder of Field Apothecary

Owner of Field Apothecary, Dana Eudy, organizes her stock.
With the birth of her children, Dana Eudy rediscovered her interest in spiritual healing. Raised in Texas, she was introduced early by her...

The Visionary: Laureen Barber, Design Director/Co-Owner at Blue Hill & Blue Hill Stone Barns

Design Direct and Co-Owner at Blue Hill & Blue Hill Stone Barns, Laureen Barber.
It would be enough to design a world-famous restaurant, especially if that restaurant went on to receive countless awards. But what if that...

The Daredevil: Abi Mesick, Tree Worker, Truck Driver, Farmer

Abi Mesick of Collins Farm in Chatham trimming tress.
To hear her youthful voice, you’d never guess Abi Mesick has 35 years of experience as a gardener, tree worker and farmer. As a child Abi...
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