To go down on the farm, head for Midtown Tunnel

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New York may be the largest and most densely populated city in the U.S., but visitors can get away from it all in a rural setting without leaving the metropolis -- and we're not talking Central Park.

New York state's oldest continuously active farm, founded in 1697 in the borough of Queens, is now owned by the city's Parks Department. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and operates as the Queens Farm Museum. Who knew?

The 47-acre patch of land is still farmed (the pumpkins were ready at press time). On weekends visitors can, weather permitting, participate in hay rides as well as tours of the farmhouse.

By way of comparison, Central Park is 843 acres, about 18 times the size of the working farm. But the museum handily accommodates productive farming activities and 500,000 visitors each year.

The farm museum is open daily, and the grounds include a set of farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, planting fields, an orchard and an herb garden.

The facility, where visitors can feed the animals, is particularly attractive for families visiting either New York City or Long Island.

Entrance to the museum is free except on days when special events are scheduled. One of the farm's most popular events, the November Eighteenth-Century Tavern Nights, is coming up.

Authentic meals from the 1700s are prepared on an open hearth and served on period tableware. The 2007 edition will be available for booking in February and should be reserved early.

Other events before year's end include a Christmas holiday bazaar and, right after Christmas, a holiday open house. In April, there's an Easter egg hunt, followed a week later by a Children's Carnival.

Later events, including the annual Antique Auto Show in April and the annual Antique Motorcycle Show in September hold more appeal for adults.

The farm museum also is the setting, in July, for the annual Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Pow Wow, described as the city's oldest pow wow, where more than 40 Native American nations are represented.

The museum is accessible by public transportation, but out-of-towners may find it easier to take a cab or car service from their Manhattan hotel or from Little Neck station on the Long Island Rail Road's Port Washington line. More information is available at www.queensfarm.org.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].

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