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Sometimes girlfriends just have to runaway for a day. This happened to my friend and I over this past Columbus Day weekend. We needed some me time filled with beautiful scenery, yummy food, interesting people, and a good dose of adventure. We decided to escape from Danbury and head to the Hudson Valley.

I had heard about several festivals in both Poughkeepsie and Kingston, so our first stop was

Feeding the Hudson Valley, a food rescue and collecting network, which seeks to provide food to the hungry while reducing the environmental impact of food waste. The venue was the parking lot at the Walkway Over the Hudson where local organizations fed hundreds of people with produce that was set to be discarded. "There is no one in this valley that should not have enough food to eat," said Rich Schiafo, event organizer and senior planner for the Hudson Valley Regional Council. Ugly produce may not often get selected at the farm stand or grocery store, but it can be used to make a great meal. Holding up a bumpy, misshapen carrot, Schiafo added: "I think it's beautiful."

The Hudson Valley Regional Council, Dutchess Outreach, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, UlsterCorps, Orange County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Long Table Harvest and other regional and community organizations have been working together to promote solutions to reducing food waste. For Feeding the Hudson Valley, organizations visited local farms, collected thousands of pounds of produce that was going to be discarded and "made a big meal out of it," Schiafo said. One in 10 people across four mid-Hudson Valley counties receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps, according to Feeding the Hudson Valley.

My friend and I sampled the most scrumptious ratatouille stew filled with rescued tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, squash and topped off with big chunks of pheasant. When I asked the volunteers for the secret to the stew, they listed all of the ingredients including a hearty dose of love and sweat.

It was then time to hit the road and head for the Field + Supply, A Modern Makers Craft Fair at the Hutton Brickyards on the banks of the Hudson River in Kingston. This extraordinary venue showcased the finest and most creative modern crafts along with workshops in calligraphy, hat making, rock painting and essential oil alchemy.

We nabbed some Adirondack chairs positioned to overlook the river as we enjoyed the live music and sampled the delicious smoked salmon from the Hook Line Fish Company.

Our final adventure was a quick trip around the O+ (Positive) Festival. We admired the murals, checked out the pop-up clinic and bought commemorative t-shirts. We left the Hudson Valley more relaxed, happier and with very full tummies!

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