The amazing pastel-laying chickens of Violet Hill

NEW YORK – Our new GPS, Alpha, took us on a bizarre detour on Saturday that meandered through the posh Saddle River community in New Jersey, the houses of which put most Westmount homes to shame.

“Tupac lives here,” I assured my captive audience. They were skeptical. They might have laughed at me. But they could not disprove it.

It should have been a five-minute detour, but it took us about 20 as I drove real slow to gawk at homes in the borough that has the second-highest per-capita income in the state.

However, the real world beckoned, and we were headed to the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan, specifically, the Violet Hill stall.

Violet Hill is an organic farm in Herkimer County, northwest of Albany. “Organic farm.” Whatever. The word organic is thrown around so much, I think we forget what it means. It’s just something we say so the other moms will understand we’re not feeding our kids red dye and steroid-pumped cattle every chance we get.

But talk to Mary of Violet Hill a while and you’ll start to understand what this whole movement is all about. (Full disclosure: Mary is a friend, but not the reason I’m gushing over her food here.) She and her family love their land and respect their animals. Their livestock produce some of the finest meats I’ve had in a while. I mean, hell, their chickens are so happy, they lay pastel eggs. Really.

While we chatted behind the stall, several people approached to buy eggs, but all went away disappointed. Mary pointed to the care package she’d put together for us to share with friends and said conspiratorially, “You’ve got eggs in there. You want to sell them on the black market right now, you could make a killing.”

We left with plenty goodies that didn’t come from Violet Hill, as well, like goat cheese and fresh vegetables, Chateau Renaissance Basset Blush table wine, and apple cider donuts from Breezy Hill orchard. We ate well all weekend. We ate a lot all weekend.

The Union Square Greenmarket is on the north and west sides of Union Square Park on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Stop by the Violet Hill stall on Saturdays to check out fossils the family finds on their land, plus foraged fresh and dried culinary and medicinal mushrooms, and I Love My Farmer stickers for the kids. Even though business is non-stop, there’s always time for a chat and a warm smile.



  1. UMM. I’m pretty sure Tupac died awhile ago! What kid of chicken’s lay pastel eggs…I want .. no… I need to know!!


  2. Happy chickens! Imagine the business they do at Easter, though …
    And Tupac’s death is just one more reason they can’t prove he wasn’t there …
    And it’ s possible I need a lot more sleep.


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