Monday, April 7, 2014

Community Gardens Gaining Ground in Northern New York

communitygardenphotodigThis is a revival of a column I wrote a few years ago about community gardens. I couldn’t resist digging it out of the mothballs because, like other local food and gardening efforts it’s gaining momentum with wide interest.

When I last encouraged folks to look into community gardens there were just a handful in the North Country.  Last summer, when Adirondack Harvest published its annual local food guide, we listed 21 community and school gardens, just in Essex County!

My introduction to community gardens took place 25 years ago when my husband and I, devout gardeners and homesteaders, abruptly moved from the rural green of Vermont to Minneapolis and St. Paul (yes, we started out in one city and a year later moved to the other one).

While we adored the Twin Cities, there were no backyard gardens for us. And so there entered a new concept in my life: community gardens.  We discovered that plots of land had been cordoned off in, among other places, parks and vacant lots.  Each area was divided into many 20’ by 20’ plots with water access.  For a small fee, we were able to secure a space, tilled for us at the beginning of the season. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Science of Maple Syrup

syrupIn maple country, it seems like everyone has a favorite syrup grade. Mine is U.S. Grade A dark amber. But soon, I’ll have to figure out how my favorite grade of the past jibes with a new system that several Northeastern states plan to adopt in the next few years, and that other states – as well as Canada – are also considering.

It turns out that, at least in New York, Vermont, and Maine, my favorite amber will soon be called either Grade A Amber, Rich Taste or Grade A Dark, Robust Taste, depending on which end of the amber spectrum I prefer. Lighter syrups tend to have more delicate flavors, while darker ones are more intense – a relationship on which the old maple syrup labels, that described color only, relied.

So why doesn’t all syrup taste the same? Sugars in maple sap undergo a series of changes during collection and processing that influence both color and flavor. “The most important determinant of what flavor develops in syrup are the reactions that occur when heat is applied as we process sap into syrup in the evaporator,” explained Abby van den Berg, a researcher at the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Adirondacks Celebrating Maple Weekend

sugarhouseAdirondack maple producers and businesses are celebrating spring’s sweetest product with special events, tours and tastings during Maple Weekend, March 29-30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day which coincides with Thurman Maple Weekend.

Every March since the mid-1990’s, the New York State Maple Producers Association has presented Maple Weekends, during which maple producers from throughout the state host open houses to showcase how maple products are produced, from tree to table, and provide a chance to taste and purchase products.  This year, the Tri-Lakes / High Peaks region of the Adirondacks will also host a series of special “sweet” events this weekend.  » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Raising Local Food: Ward Lumber’s Poultry Day

2014 poultry dayI’ve considered raising chickens for many reasons, and not just because of the recent popularity of the backyard chicken movement. Raising my own chickens would be more than the bucolic setting where my children skip (they must skip) out the backdoor to the chicken coop to collect eggs. (If the scene is to be complete, my daughter is most likely wearing gingham and some sort of bonnet.)

The reality is less picturesque. The fewer miles my food needs to travel, the better off my family is.  With constant food recalls and salmonella poisoning as just a few reasons to be wary, finding a local source for eggs, dairy and meat is one step, in my opinion, toward good health. So for those that haven’t jumped on the chicken-raising bandwagon, attending a seminar is the perfect opportunity to find out if this is the way to bring your own food source closer to home. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hops Growing Talk Planned in Warrensburg

Franklin County hop-pickers c 1900With the ever increasing interest in locally produced foods and homesteading skills, the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District is presenting a series of informational talks in Warrensburg on agricultural topics.  The presentations are free and open to anyone with an interest.  For reservations contact Nick Rowell at (518)623-3119 or nrowell123@nycap.rr.com, as seating is limited.

The next two talks, on hops growing and soil health, will be Friday, March 28th from 6 pm to 8 pm at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Warrensburg Office at 232 Golf Course Road. Future talks are planned for May.

Hops was once a staple crop of New York farmers, but production ended about 50 years ago and the last beer made with all New York hops was produced in the 1950s.  That is until 2004 when the first new beer was brewed with all New York hops. Today a small amount of hops are being grown in Washington and Warren counties for use in the Adirondack and Paradox breweries. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Day of Spring: Starting Seeds Indoors

starting-seeds-indoorsEven while we remain snowbound, the days are growing longer and the sun is getting higher; robins are singing, and there’s a good chance spring will come sometime in 2014. For those who still believe in spring, late March is the time to start planting vegetable and flower seeds indoors.

Raising your own plants gives you the option to pick unusual varieties not available commercially in the spring, and it’s a lot cheaper than buying transplants. For kids it can be a fun activity, and for the rest of us it’s at least in part about seeds of change; a sign we believe growth and change are possible despite a bleak forecast. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

$5 Million Lake George Redevelopment Announced

Adirondack Brewery DistilleryAdirondack Pub and Brewery owner John Carr has announced that he is purchasing the four-acre lot on Route 9 owned by the Off-Track Betting Corporation for $1.25 million.  Carr’s immediate plans for the property include expanding Adirondack’s brewing and bottling operations and building the first whiskey distillery in Lake George.   OTB will continue to operate a betting parlor at the site until it secures a new location, according to Carr.

With the construction of a new plant on the property, Carr expects his brewing and bottling capacities to triple. “We look forward to seeing our Adirondack beers being sold in every county of the state,” he said.  Once the expansion is complete, Adirondack Brewery is expected to produce 35,000 barrels of beer a year.   Carr said the project will take five years to complete and cost approximately $5 million. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

5th Annual Glens Falls Benefit Brewfest April 5

Glens Falls Brew FestA celebration of good beer and charitable giving combine for the 5th Annual Glens Falls Brewfest. Over 60 breweries are expected on Saturday, April 5 at the Queensbury Hotel (88 Ridge St).

The following breweries are confirmed participants in this year’s Glens Falls Brewfest with more expoected to sign-up: Adirondack Pub & Brewery, Ace Cider, City Steam, Coopers Cave Ale Company, Davidson Brothers Brewing Company , Ft. Collins, Goose Island, Kona, McKenzie’s, Paradox, Peak, Redhook, Sea Dog, Shipyard, Shocktop, Southampton, Stella Cidre, Uinta, and Widmer Brothers. Organizers will post the latest additions on the Glens Falls Brewfest Facebook page and GlensFallsBrewfest.org. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Avoiding Vegetable Garden Problems

MarketVegsWith temperatures remaining below normal during the first week of March, the spring planting season is still a long ways off. Gardeners are itching to get busy but have to wait while March and April drag by, teasing us with spring-like spells that are inevitably followed by cold snaps.

To put some of that pent-up energy to good use, gardeners would be wise to spend a good chunk of time now planning out their gardens. Perennial flower gardeners can creatively rearrange their plants and search for particular colors or bloom times to fill in gaps. Planning ahead can also help reduce some disease problems for vegetable gardeners. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Plattsburgh’s Food from the Farm Day

 Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 3.41.03 PMLike most Adirondack gardeners, my family is just starting to think about starting seeds and planning our summer garden. At Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), they want to make sure that we are all aware that local farmers are not just thinking about what to plant, but have actually never stop growing and making local food available for our tables.

The annual  Food from the Farm event, in cooperation with Adirondack Harvest and CCE Clinton County, is just one way local farmers are making themselves available to let us meet the people that grow our food. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Food From Local Farms: Even in Winter

adirondack harvest logoIt’s still feels like deep winter, spring is a ways off and the soil in the gardens is pretty well frozen solid. Are you dreaming of fresh, local food in abundance? What is to be found in the North Country on the backside of the farming calendar? Locavores can rise to this challenge once again with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Food from the Farm event.

This is the fourth year we’ve turned to our list of regional farmers and processors, hired a chef dedicated to cooking with local ingredients and organized a display area to educate and excite the community. It’s been such a huge hit, we vowed to make this an annual event – yet there is always room for improvement. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Learn About Maple Sugaring at Wild Center This Weekend

Maple BucketThis last weekend of midwinter school break merits a stop at Tupper Lake’s Wild Center. Along with its natural playground, animal encounters and naturalist-led excursions, there is a wide range of organized events to fill the days.

February 22 is all about animal tracking. We have gone on many of these guided trips and are always excited to learn more about the telltale signs of Adirondack animals. Even though my children may have a better grasp than most children their age regarding animal signs, there is always something they learn from a visit to the Wild Center.

On February 23, the Wild Center, in cooperation with the Adirondack Museum, will be demonstrating regional maple sugaring artifacts.  For local residents there is a free pancake breakfast and sugaring workshop that will focus on the Northern NY Maple Project. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

School Fundraising: Why Not Sell Local Foods?

ShipmanFamilyFarmStandCJenkins5We’re big supporters of our sons’ school, and I enjoy helping out and participating in most school events, probably more than my kids would actually like. But there’s one thing that has never been particularly appealing to me (and other parents, judging from the courtside conversations) and that’s class fundraisers in the form of products for sale.

Sure, some of them are fine and I do enjoy my Christmas wreath. But many of the other items seem cheaply made and sometimes totally useless. I’ve been known to skip the tchotchkes entirely and just send in money. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ordering Seed? Consider Growing Potatoes

A small pile of potatoes freshly dug from the ground.In spite of how miserable the weather has been lately, I still think it’s a good thing we have winter. It gives us gardeners a chance to spend some time indoors, reading up on our favorite plants, learning about new varieties, crops, or methods we might want to try out this year, and planning this summer’s gardens.

One vegetable crop that is not often grown in home gardens is potatoes. I’ve been growing them for a couple of years now and I really enjoy it. The plants are good-sized and robust without too much fussing and are well suited to our climate. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Ed Kanze: A Brush With Nightshade

ed_kanze_nightshadeDone anything stupid lately? As much as it pains me to admit it, I have. I’ve eaten wild foods all my life and never made a mistake identifying them. Until now.

Listen and hear the cautionary tale of a naturalist biting the wrong fruit and nearly biting the dust in the process on this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze. » Continue Reading.


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