Many Hudson Valley towns reinvent themselves, fueled by dynamic Main Streets and infusions of newcomers, but that’s not the case in the tiny hamlet of Accord (pronounced “ACK-ord”), one of the largest of the Town of Rochester’s 23 communities, tucked away into a largely undisturbed swath of land at the center of Ulster County. Accord’s residents maintain deep ties to its centuries-old agrarian roots and revel in its superb natural setting, far removed from any hustle and bustle, and with few commercial disruptions—save from a smattering of pick-your-own farms and eateries. The main lure here are the far-reaching countryside and verdant farmland that skirts the Rondout Creek on its way to the Hudson River, and the spectacular views of the Shawangunk Mountains.
“It’s affordable, and you have access to a lot of outdoor things: cross-country skiing in the winter, hiking and swimming in the summer. You can be outside year round here,” says Terri Ritter, a retired schoolteacher who has lived in Accord for 17 years. “From my house, I can basically walk for miles and miles in the woods, which I love to do. It’s just a beautiful place.”
With its Colonial history dating back to a late-17th-century settlement built upon by waves of Dutch, French, and English farmers (the Town of Rochester was incorporated in 1703), Accord has since watched its economy ebb and flow. Remnants remain of the old D&H Canal, which ran along the Rondout Creek through Accord from 1828 to 1902, and the O&W Railroad (from 1902 to 1940), which stopped in Accord from 1902 to 1940, bringing a steady stream of New York City visitors each summer. But Accord has never strayed far from its farming heritage: Set at the heart of the rich Rondout Valley region, a floodplain wedged between the Catskills and Shawangunks, the hamlet remains fertile ground for agricultural ventures.
Two local farming associations are based in Accord: Stick to Local Farms, which markets open-to-the-public regional farms, and the industry-driven nonprofit Rondout Valley Growers Association, whose members include Saunderskill Farm Market, founded in 1680 and in family hands for 13 generations. The market overflows with fresh produce and baked goods, and includes a greenhouse stocked with plants and flowers. Nearby, the Italian-owned, certified-organic Westwind Orchard offers pick-your-own apple orchards; a farm stand turning out jams, maple syrup, and honey; and a wood-fired pizza pavilion—a new hard ciderhouse is set to open in spring. Next door is field-to-tap farm-brewery Arrowood Farms, opened in 2016, which serves organic small-batch craft brews sourced from hops and grains grown onsite; last year, Arrowood partnered with Graze Farm to Table to serve Hudson Valley-sourced fare, too. Come Christmastime, Bell’s Christmas Trees is a go-to destination for cut-your-own spruce and fir trees. Flying Change Farm is open year-round for horseback riding lessons for both kids and adults and even offers workshops in hobbyhorsing—children’s competitions involving the “riding” of toy horses created from stuffed horses’ heads on sticks, a craze begun in Finland.
Restaurants are scarce in Accord, but two standouts are the quaint Friends and Family II Hillside Restaurant, set within a rustic stone building and serving classic Continental cuisine, and casual newcomer Mama Boyz, which has been gaining rave reviews for its signature “stuffed burgers.” Or grab your own meat to go from the novel trio of self-service, 24-hour Applestone vending machines at Accord Plaza: The cuts here are stocked fresh daily from Josef Meiller Farm & Slaughterhouse in nearby Pine Plains.
The biggest show in town is the Accord Speedway, which brings loud-and-proud racecar action to its quarter-mile oval dirt track on Friday nights from April through September. Or, using your own wheels—and considerably less speed—take a drive along the Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway, a section of the 88-mile-long scenic route passes through Accord along Route 209. For cycling or hiking, hit the O&W Rail Trail (part of the D&H Canal Heritage Corridor), which runs adjacent to the Rondout Creek for 3.5 miles between Accord and the neighboring hamlet of Kerhonkson; plans are currently underway to expand the trail on a continuous run from Kingston to Ellenville.
Accord’s housing stock—renowned for boasting generous parcels of land—includes classic farmhouses, midcentury homes, cabins, and Colonial-era stone houses. A good portion of homes here are snatched up by weekenders. Locals like Ritter don’t seem to mind, though. “Those people have integrated nicely into the community,” she says. “I think they’re all here because they love what the area has to offer.” Accord’s median home value is $229,500; at press time, there were approximately 35 single-family homes listed, mostly in the $160,000-to-$399,000 range. Priced at $299,000 is a renovated, three-bedroom, 1,680-square-foot, 1920s farmhouse, within walking distance of Westwind Orchard and Arrowood Farms, featuring slate and mahogany floors, high vaulted ceilings, stainless-steel appliances, French doors, and a large deck overlooking 1.5 acres of “meadow-like” land.