A Weekend at Gatherwild Ranch in Germantown, NY

Spread out on 75 acres of rolling hills, Gatherwild Ranch provides unique shelters that inspire grassy picnics, evening bonfires, and star gazing in the Hudson Valley.

We drove on a quiet country road up to the farmhouse, a quaint white house with an inviting front porch surrounded by beautiful, tall maple and pine trees. A plowed and seeeded plot of land to the left has promise of fresh herbs and vegetables come summer. For now they are seedlings exploring their new place in the ground.

We entered the house and were warmly welcomed by Laura Sink, the owner of Gatherwild Ranch who purchased the property last year and has been working tirelessly to transform it into a beautiful place for rest and exploration.

Inside, a small, but comfortable yoga studio sits to the left, while a cozy, inviting sitting room lures people further inside. Although the house is not usually part of retreat rentals, we were encouraged to make ourselves comfortable if we needed to. The weekend was expected to be chilly, especially in the mornings.

Gatherwild offers glamping, also known as "glamorous camping," and is frequently booked through Airbnb for small, private retreats. The large white yurts, which are clean, inviting, and comfortable, are spread out generously on the back property.

On my first morning, I took advantage of the yoga studio and did morning stretches inside, as the weather was still too cool. We enjoyed breakfast in the kitchen, a room which clearly reflected the charm of an old house - a candelabra adorning the wooden dining table, a door that lead to a secret stairwell, and a side walk-in pantry.

We spent the afternoon exploring the property - the rows of apple trees, an abutting farm with sheep grazing the land, and a nearby watering hole for a dip during the warm afternoon sun. The property was once a working apple farm, but became defunct when the property owners passed away.

There are outdoor toilets, which are clean and self-composting. The intention of Gatherwild is to be an eco-friendly, sustainable, and self-sustaining retreat center. When the garden starts producing food, the vegetables will be incorporated into freshly prepared meals for a true farm-to-table experience.

Half of the garden plot is managed by Apis Apotheca, an organic herbal company founded by Aviva Skye, an herbalist studying at ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism in New York City. Aviva grows herbs to create specially-crafted medicinal herbal products and to sell fresh and dried herbs to companies that create their own products. I had the opportunity to plant a row of calendula, an herb commonly used in beauty products.

I felt lucky to be spending a weekend on such a beautiful property; waking up to the sound of birds singing, getting my hands into the rich soil, and enjoying a campfire under the night sky was a true getaway from the city life.

Thank you Laura for creating this lovely place to rest and retreat and to Aviva for growing nourishing and healing herbs, both of which reminded me of nature's beauty and bounty.

- Maria Christodoulou, Founder