Almanack Contributor Community News Reports

Community News

Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Adirondack Harvest Fall Events Announced

Adirondack Harvest, the community-based farm and food development and promotion program, has provided funds to groups throughout the region for celebrations of the bountiful fall season farm harvest. The effort is made possible by a $50,000 grant to Adirondack Harvest from the Spaulding-Paolozzi Foundation, which supports agricultural development and ecological preservation.

According to Adirondack Harvest Coordinator Laurie Davis, “This season-long Adirondack Harvest celebration provides consumers with opportunities to meet farmers, visit farms, taste products and become Adirondack Harvest members. Members receive special mailings, dinner invitations, and various premiums from an Adirondack Harvest apron to our Three Farms DVD, gift baskets and the Adirondack Harvest Cookbook with lots of great ideas for serving local foods.”

Adirondack Harvest Activities Set for NNY Region:

Clinton County
Sunday, September 14, 1pm – Adirondack Harvest Farms Tour and Dinner – Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County has organized a farms tour that includes Campbell’s Greenhouse in Saranac (1pm), Everett’s Orchard Store in Plattsburgh (2pm), Black Sheep Barn and Garden in West Chazy (3pm) and Conroy’s Organics in West Chazy (4pm tour and dinner). Call 518-561-7450 for transportation and dinner reservations or drive-it-yourself for tours.

September 6-14 – New I Love Local Food reusable shopping bags for sale – Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County will have the new I Love Local Food reusable shopping bag for sale at cost at the Extension office at 6064 State Route 22 in Plattsburgh and at September 13 Adirondack Harvest Farms Tour sites. Info: 518-561-7450

Essex County
Saturday, September 6-Sunday, September 14 – Adirondack Agricultural exhibits at Adirondack Historical Society Museum, Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm, Sundays 1-5pm. Mention Adirondack Harvest to get 2 admissions for price of 1; Court Street, Elizabethtown. Info: 518-873-6466.

Thursday, September 11, 5-9:00pm – Oil paintings & monumental sculpture exhibits, Crooked Brook Studios Art Farm, early 20th century farm with “bio-organic eruptions” of art appearing across farm landscape, RD2 Box 2364, Wadhams-Whallonsburg Rd., Westport (aka Sayre Rd./Cty. Rte. 55). Info: 518-962-4386.

Thursday, September 11, 11:30am to evening – Turtle Island Café Trail Farm-to-Restaurant Tour For each farm you visit your name will be entered into drawing for $30 gift certificate to Turtle Island Café. Make reservations by September 8 with 518-962-4810×404.

Friday, September 12, 9:00am to 1:00pm, Elizabethtown Farmers’ Market – Free samples of seasonal fruits & vegetables and dip for dunking at one of the oldest Essex County markets. Peruse selections of vegetables, flowers, baked goods, crafts, Elizabethtown. Info: 518-293-7877

Friday, September 12, 10-11:30am Cornell E.V.Baker Research Farm Tour – Farm connects Cornell University faculty with important agricultural issues facing Northern NY farmers, including best management practices for perennial forages, tillage and soil health interactions, wine grape variety evaluations, small grain variety trials and season extension using high tunnels… 38 Farrell Road, Willsboro. Info: 518-963-7492.

Saturday, September 13, 11:30am to evening, Deers Head Inn Trail Farm-to-Restaurant Tour – For each farm you visit your name will be entered into drawing for $30 gift certificate to The Deers Head Inn. Make reservations by September 10 with 518-962-4810×404. Tour schedule is as follows:

Sunday, September 14, 9:30am-2pm, Keene Farmers’ Market – 6th Annual Pie Baking Contest benefits Keene Food Pantry, open to pie donations, contest pies should arrive no later than 9am. Awards in three categories, donate to food pantry to receive a slices of the pies; Marcy Field in Keene Valley. Info: 518-561-7167.

Franklin County
Saturday-Sunday, September 6-7, 1-3 pm – Adirondack Alps Cooking Classes at Hohmeyers’ Lodge on Lake Clear, 6319 State Route 30, Lake Clear, NY. Info: www.lodgeonlakeclear.com , 518-891-1489.

Wednesday-Sunday, September 10-14 – 6-6:30 pm free harvest cooking demonstrations prior to dinner service at Hohmeyers’ Lodge on Lake Clear, 6319 State Route 30, Lake Clear, NY – Chef Cathy Hohmeyer will serve a special Old World Style Harvest Dinner Menu complete with local beef, pork, and lamb; potatoes; salads, and strudel with organic apples and peaches – a whole, 100-mile menu of local products. Everything from stroganoff and soups to sauerbraten will be prepared with organic and local foods. Info: 518-891-1489, www.lodgeonlakeclear.com

Hamilton County
August 28, 3-6pm, Long Lake Farmers’ Market, Long Lake Pavilion, Long Lake, NY – display of Adirondack Harvest materials with photos of local members such as Neil McGovern of the Inn at Speculator, maple producer Dave McComb, and Ann Miller of Indian Lake Restaurant. Info: 518-548-6191

September 9, 8:30am, Indian Lake, NY – Roll out for Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce will provide an explanation of Adirondack Harvest and what it has the potential to do for the local tourist-based economy. Info: 518-548-6191

September 9, 6pm, Speculator, NY – Roll out for Speculator Region Chamber of Commerce will provide an explanation of Adirondack Harvest and what it has the potential to do for the local tourist-based economy. Info: 518-548-6191

September 11, 3-6pm, Speculator Farmers’ Market, Speculator Farmers’ Market, Speculator Pavilion, Speculator, NY – display of Adirondack Harvest materials with photos of local members, such as Neil McGovern of the Inn at Speculator, maple producer Dave McComb, and Ann Miller of Indian Lake Restaurant. Info: 518-548-6191

October 4, 10am-4pm Fall Fest, Speculator Pavilion, Speculator, NY Adirondack Harvest display booth and solicitation of members. Info: 518-548-6191

Jefferson County
Monday, September 15, 3:30pm, Monday Neighborhood Farmers’ Market, 203 N. Hamilton Street, Watertown – Celebrity chef Lori Wells of Café Mira in Adams will offer a cooking demonstration using the freshest fall produce and with the assistance of her 10-year-old daughter Madison Wells. Info: 315-788-8450

Lewis County
September Mondays, 2-6pm; Saturdays, 8:30am-2pm; October Saturdays, 9am-1pm – Lowville Farmers Market – Mondays are Mini-Market days; the first Saturday of the month is Customer Appreciation Day with free beverages and door prizes donated by vendors with produce, meats, maple, baked goods…The market accepts WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program food coupons; Lewis County Fairgrounds Forest Park Pavilion, Lowville. Info: 315-376-5270

September 20, 4th Annual Cream Cheese Festival, Lowville downtown – World’s largest cheesecake, contests, entertainment, artists, Children’s Discovery Park, raffles…benefits local churches’ food pantries. Kraft Foods in Lowville is the largest cream cheese manufacturing plan in the world. Info: 315-376-8688

September 29-October 5 – NY Harvest for NY Kids Week activities at county schools Info: 315-376-5270

October 4, 11am-4pm, Lowville Dairy Producers Cooperative, 7396 Utica Blvd. (Route 12), Lowville, next to the giant cow! This stop is part of the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce Fall Foliage Tour and you know at the farmer-owned and operated Lowville Dairy Producers retail store they’ve “got good cheese” and cheese curd made with local milk, maple products, Croghan bologna, and many locally made goodies. Watch for details on a local restaurant serving a meal with local products. Info: 315-376-5270, 376-3921

St. Lawrence County
Saturday, September 27, 10:30am-5pm – Harvest Festival, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County Learning Farm, Canton – Farmers’ market, foods, activities, pet the farm animals: sheep, goats, pig, beef calve; tractor safety, hay rides, sorghum sudangrass maze, pick & paint pumpkins, dog agility class, NY State Police Child Safe, fire safety house, Dairy Princess and Maple Queen. Info: 315-379-9192

Warren County
Saturday-Sunday-Monday, October 11-13 – 1st Annual Thurman Farm Tour and Harvest Dinner at The Grist Mill on Schroon Lake – On Saturday and Sunday learn about local agriculture at farms throughout the Town of Thurman. On Monday, enjoy dinner a event organized by Cornell Cooperative Extension and the local Adirondack Harvest Committee at The Grist Mill on The Schroon, 100 River Street, Warrensburg. The mill dates to 1824; the dinner at this landmark restaurant will feature freshly harvested produce and other farm products from Warren County farms. Info: 518-623-3291, 518-668-4881


Friday, August 29, 2008

This Weeks Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Great Adirondack Rutabaga Festival

The First Annual Great Adirondack Rutabaga Festival, sponsored by Adirondack Harvest and the Adirondack Farmers Market Cooperative, will be held at Marcy Field in Keene from 10 AM until 2 PM on Sunday, August 31st, 2008.

The rutabaga comes to us from Sweden where the climate is comparable to the Adirondacks. This hardy, tasty and adaptable vegetable thrives in our sometimes harsh climate. Part turnip, part cabbage, this versatile vegetable can be served in salads, as an ingredient in desserts and breads, as rutabaga chips or fries, mashed alone or with a variety of potatoes or as a component in entrees. With culinary imagination, the results are endless.

On August 31st several chefs will prepare their favorite rutabaga dish which will be sampled by attendees. Other rutabaga delicacies will be available for sampling. There will be prizes for the largest, best decorated and most unique rutabaga grown in the Adirondack Park. In addition, there will be music, games and other festivities including the coronation of the Rutabaga King and Queen. During the week prior to and after the Great Adirondack Festival look for restaurants featuring rutabaga specialties.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Green Path, Green Builder Event at The Wild Center

The Wild Center is the only LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified museum in New York State. LEED is a green building rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to provide standards for environmentally sustainable construction. The certification is considered the international benchmark for green building design. The Wild Center is going farther then just the certification, however, and will host a special day in October for builders and regional leaders to learn about the newest techniques and technologies of green building. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Adirondack Scenic Railroad Needs Volunteers

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is looking for volunteers to be a part of the Thendara railroad experience, especially as car host volunteers who can work shifts between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on any days between Wednesday and Sunday.

Volunteer car hosts typically act as assistants to the conductor during train rides out of the Thendara station, talking with passengers, answering questions and managing passenger experiences. The Adirodnack Express has all the details.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Adirondack Museum Launches WiFi

FYI, a recent press release from the Adirondack Museum:

The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York knows that its visitors like to “stay connected” when away from home. Checking email or keeping up with business is part of contemporary travel. The museum is pleased to announce that limited high-speed wireless Internet service is now available on the scenic campus in several locations.

A cost-sharing partnership with Frontier Communications has made WiFi possible at the Adirondack Museum. Frontier engineers and technicians spent several weeks this spring on the museum grounds installing access points and other necessary equipment. The museum has realized an in-kind donation of $2,700 from Frontier Communication.

“We’re pleased to partner with Adirondack Museum and help improve communications at its facility. Wireless broadband access is an increasingly critical need for both business and residential Internet users,” said Todd Rulison, Frontier’s general manager. “The addition of wireless data capability will increase coverage and capacity, allowing craft vendors at the Museum or visitors in the Café to access the Internet via a laptop and data card to conduct business and keep in touch with their
office, family and friends.”

WiFi is available at no cost to Museum Members and to those who have paid the regular admission charge. Wireless service can be accessed in the Visitor Center, in the area surrounding the Marion River Carry Pavilion, and in the Lake View Café. The museum is providing a computer station in the Marion River Carry Pavilion for visitors who would like to check email, but are not traveling with a personal laptop.


Friday, August 22, 2008

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

  • » Adirondack Cell Towers Approval Details
  • » NCCC Could Lose $160k
  • » Local Univ. Presidents Drinking Age: 18
  • » Utica’s 29th Arson This Year
  • » Foliage Season Comes Early
  • » Lewis County Suing DEC
  • » Algae Blooms In Lake Champlain
  • » Lake George Debates Parking Plan
  • » Road-Salt Prices to Rise 50-80 Percent
  • » Essex County Considers Higher Sales Tax

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

How To Beat Carnival Games

Make A Sprinkler Stand out of a Torchiere Lamp

Backcountry Bread Recipes

Create An Online Timeline With Dipity

18 Things Everyone Should Bring to College

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at our Adirondack Hacks archive here.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Adirondack Cell Towers Approval Details

Local news is reporting that construction has begun on four new new cell towers: Warrensburg, North Hudson, Schroon Falls and Lewis. They are expected to be working by the end of the year.

The following list is from a document called “Adirondack Park Agency Status Update on Cellular Projects in the Adirondack Park.” It includes the status of cellular carrier projects approved, currently under review, or projects submitted but deemed incomplete. It does not include other related tower projects such as TV, radio, or emergency services systems. It does however include a historic look at towers and concludes the surprising fact that 59 new cellular carrier permits have been issued since 1973 – missing of course is any indication of permits denied, which I suspect is none or close to none.

Here are the details:

The Agency Board approved the Independent Towers LLC/RCC Atlantic Inc application (Town of Lewis, Essex County). This project was the first cell tower application submitted specifically designed to accommodate multiple cellular carriers. AT&T was a co-applicant and will provide service from this site. There is room for three additional carriers. The tower will provide Northway coverage south and north of exit 32.

The Agency Board will consider approval for Verizon’s proposed tower in the Town of Chesterfield, Essex County at its September 11-12 meeting. This project is located near Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain between exits 32 and 33.

Staff is reviewing the fabrication designs for the Schroon Falls (Town of Schroon, north of exit 28) Verizon tower. This tower will be a simulated Pine tree.

Staff is seeking additional information for a second Verizon tower submitted in the Town of Lewis, Essex County.

Agency staff monitored visual analysis for the Verizon cellular application proposed for the Town of Keene, Essex County. Visual analysis was also conducted for a site in Keene Valley. Staff is awaiting submission of the visual analysis for the Keene site and an application for the Keene Valley site.

Verizon’s application submitted in the Town of Wells, Hamilton County remains incomplete.

Staff is reviewing a permit amendment to upgrade an antenna on a preexisting tower in the Town of Moriah, Essex County.

The Agency approved a general permit application from T Mobile (AT&T) to co-locate cellular panel antennas on a 145-foot tall existing tower. The project is located in the Town of Fine, St. Lawrence County.

Cellular carrier activity since January 1, 2008:

4 cellular carrier permits approved for new towers

2 cellular carrier general permits approved for co-location

3 cellular carrier application for new towers incomplete

1 cellular carrier application for upgrades to an existing tower remains incomplete

1 cellular carrier application currently being reviewed for Board consideration

1 cellular carrier permit amendment being reviewed

0 cellular carrier applications submitted for temporary towers for I-87

Cellular carrier activity May 1973 through present:

59 new cellular carrier permits approved authorizing 65 activities:

11 new free standing towers

13 tower and/or antenna replacements

21 co-locations on free standing existing towers

6 co-locations on existing buildings

6 co-locations on water tanks

3 co-locations on existing fire towers

2 co-locations on Olympic ski jump

2 co-location on smokestack

1 temporary tower and a second renewal (Town of Mayfield, Fulton County)

20 cellular carrier permit amendments issued authorizing 21 activities:

10 tower and/or antenna replacements

7 co-locations on free standing existing towers 2 co-location on fire tower

1 co-location on existing building

1 co-location on Olympic ski jump


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wild Center’s New Film An Apparent Success

Mammoths roam the valleys, giant sloths clamber up trees and whales swim in from Lake Champlain. It’s all part of the Wild Center‘s new movie that is earning rave reviews for its new take on a rarely seen story.

The Wild Center was designed with a showpiece theater. The screen is so wide it requires three projectors working together to create the panoramic effect. This summer the Center raised the curtain on its first full-motion movie, filmed expressly for the special wide-screen theater. The movie, called A Matter of Degrees, was filmed on location in Greenland and the Adirondacks over the course of two years by the award-winning film company Chedd-Angier-Lewis.

“It’s amazing to see that the glacier that wiped this place out is basically still around, and still making news up in Greenland,” said Susan Arnold, the Museum’s membership manager who has seen the movie numerous times with all kinds of audiences. “People are really responding to the movie, everything from tears to waiting in line to see it again.”

The movie has writing credits from former Adirondack Life publisher Howard Fish, features music by sometime Saranac Lake resident Martin Sexton and is narrated by Sigourney Weaver, another of the long list of participants with strong Adirondack ties.

A Matter of Degrees takes viewers back to an Adirondacks that was home to mammoths, California condors, ground sloths, ice and floods. “We wanted to look at what made the Adirondacks,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center and one of the film’s producers. “It was fascinating to know how much has happened in this one place, and that it’s never been explored on film before.” Ratcliffe was on the team that flew to inspect Greenland as a location. “It really felt like time travel. There were places in Greenland that looked similar to the Adirondacks, without the forest cover. We stood at the edge of a glacier, and it did feel as if we were standing on an Adirondack peak 12,000 years ago.”

Rick Godin, who led the local camera crew, flew over the Adirondacks with a state-of-the-art camera that could zoom down on details from a mile above the tree tops. “It was the same technology used in filming Planet Earth for the BBC. It was great to be up there, knowing that we were making a real movie about the Adirondacks and telling what we think is a really important story.”

The movie is 24 minutes long, and received rave reviews when it was screened for preview audiences at The Wild Center’s national climate conference in June.


Friday, August 15, 2008

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, August 14, 2008

American Mountain Men at the Adirondack Museum

Press release forwarded for your information:

The Adirondack Museum will host an encampment of American Mountain Men interpreters on August 15 and 16, 2008. The [event is open to the public, but the encampment is by invitation only.

Participants in the museum encampment are from the Brothers of the New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts segment of the national American Mountain Men organization.

While at the Adirondack Museum the group will interpret the lives and times of traditional mountain men with colorful demonstrations and displays of shooting, tomahawk, and knife throwing, furs, fire starting and cooking, clothing of both eastern and western mountain styles, period firearms, and more. This year’s encampment will include blacksmithing and a beaver skinning demonstration.

Mountain men are powerful symbols of America’s wild frontier. Legends about the mountain man continue to fascinate because many of the tales are true: the life of the mountain man was rough, and despite an amazing ability to survive in the wilderness, it brought him face to face with death on a regular basis.

All of the American Mountain Men activities and demonstrations are included in the price of regular museum admission.

The American Mountain Men group was founded in 1968. The association researches and studies the history, traditions, tools, and mode of living of the trappers, explorers, and traders known as the mountain men. Members continuously work for mastery of the primitive skills of both the original mountain men and Native Americans. The group prides itself on the accuracy and authenticity of its interpretation and shares the knowledge they have gained with all who are interested.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Peak Oil and A Murder-Suicide3 Years Ago At Adirondack Almanack

Three years ago at Adirondack Almanack we were convinced that Peak Oil had finally arrived and wondering when local media in our region would start reporting on it; we also reported on James Kunstler’s visit to Rockhill Bakehouse in Glens Falls.

And… we wondered if the crash of a small plane near Ticonderoga was really a murder- suicide.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Grannis To Speak At Nature Conservancy Event

Via Press Release:

The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust are holding their Annual Membership Meeting and Field Day on August 16, 2008, at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid, New York. The event, featuring keynote speakers Pete Grannis, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, and Charles D. Canham, Ph.D., Forest Ecologist, is open to the public. Preregistration is required.

Prior to becoming DEC Commissioner, Grannis was a NY State Assemblyman for 30 years. During that time, he was an active member of the Environmental Conservation Committee and received recognition from a variety of environmental organizations for his role in enacting laws addressing such issues as acid rain, clean air and water.

Now, under Grannis’s leadership DEC is making history in the Adirondacks with his Smart Growth initiatives and the integral part it is playing in protecting the ecologically and economically significant Finch lands.

Dr. Canham, Senior Scientist with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, earned his doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University (1984). Widely recognized as a leader in his field, Dr. Canham’s research papers have appeared in numerous scientific journals. His most recent, Neighborhood Models of the Effects of Invasive Tree Species on Ecosystems Processes (2008), can be found in Ecological Monographs, a publication of the Ecological Society of America.

Dr. Canham’s Adirondack research has taken him deep into the forests of the Five Ponds Wilderness and to hundreds of remote lakes and ponds. He is also a board member of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust and chairs the groups’ Conservation Committee.

Pre-registration is required for this event, which will run from 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Cost per adult is $20, children under 12 are free. Heaven Hill Farm, not ordinarily not open to the public, is just west of the village of Lake Placid, with a magnificent view of the high peaks. To register, or obtain more information, contact Jeff Walton at (518) 576-2082 ext 166 or jwalton[AT]tnc[DOT ORG]

The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, non-profit organization working to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Since 1971, the Adirondack Chapter has been working with a variety of partners in the Adirondacks to achieve a broad range of conservation results. The Chapter is a founding partner of the High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, dedicated to the protection of alpine habitat, as well as the award-winning Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, which works regionally to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native invasive plants.

The Adirondack Land Trust, established in 1984, protects open space, working farms and forests, undeveloped shoreline, scenic vistas, and other lands contributing to the quality of life of Adirondack residents. The Land Trust holds 45 conservation easements on 11,174 acres of privately-owned lands throughout the Adirondack Park, including 15 working farms in the Champlain Valley.

Together, these partners in Adirondack conservation have protected 556,572 acres, one out of every six protected acres park-wide.

Adirondack Almanack periodically forwards press releases like this one to our readers.


Monday, August 11, 2008

OPINION: Going Local in The Adirondacks

There was an interesting story in Sunday’s Press Republican about Gordon Oil in AuSable Forks. The company was founded by Clifford Gordon in 1921 and is now in it’s third generation. Part of the story was a tiny detail at the end that says a lot about our current economic environment:

“Starting out as Standard Oil of New York — or SOCONY, as the sign on top of the display [at Gordon’s main office] states — in the 1920s it became Mobiloil and then, in 1931, Socony-Vacuum.

Following 1955, every decade or so the parent company underwent business transformations, which included Socony Mobil Oil Co., Mobil Oil Corp., Mobil Corp. and, in 1999, ExxonMobil…

Lewis [Gordon, who operated the business with his brother Waxy for 50 years) recalled the big tanks they used to have, which were cut down for steel during World War II.

“There used to be storage in Plattsburgh,” he said. “Big barges would come through Whitehall and unload up there, and we would go get it.

“Now it all has to be trucked in. All the big companies had their tanks there in Plattsburgh. It’s kind of too bad.”

When the company switched to electrically operated pumps years ago it gave it’s older pumps to a local farmer who used them for many years. That’s the kind of localism we’ve lost and it’s to our detriment.

Localism – involvement in local politics, local economies, an understanding of local culture and the environment, underlies much of the Green movement. It’s not just politics and the environment, it’s about supportive communities of neighbors working together to protect each other from the sometimes ravenous capitalist economy (seen most recently in energy and food costs). It’s what was happening when Gordon Oil gave over those pumps to that farmer. It’s what was destroyed when those tanks were taken down and not replaced.

Localism is also the future we face. I was recently talking with a local hardware store owner, part of the True Value chain. He sells lumber, paint, the usual goods (plus his simply built furniture). He was telling me that he needed a special piece of lumber that he didn’t stock. He took his truck to pick it up at the Home Depot in Queensbury; they were out of stock, so he went to the Lowe’s and found what he was looking for. The piece of lumber cost him an additional $30 in gas for the truck, plus about two hours of time away from his shop. That piece of lumber could have been boughten for a fraction of the price not a quarter-mile away – albeit at a competing lumber store.

The story of the fuel oil storage facilities and the local hardware store owner are revealing for local businesses. They once stocked nearly everything a household needed. As corporations took over our world, local supplies (seen on store shelfs and those Plattsburgh tanks) have had to pared down their stocks as consumers have opted to drive long miles to shop at big box stores (or shippers have turned to trucking and on-demand wharehousing).

That is something that we’re going to see come to an end, although it make take a while for our neighbors to break their old habits. Even if the price of oil goes down before the election (as we argued it would), the damage has been done, and Adirondackers have started turning local out of necessity. That necessity is something local greens have been vociferously saying was bound to happen since the late 1980s, even as they argued for serious political efforts toward locally sustained communities.

The trend toward localism has already begun in a number of segments of Adirondack society – especially among small farmers and local wood products producers – but now we are going to see a much more general trend. Already Chestertown, North Creek, Schroon Lake, and surrounding areas have taxis – that’s right, cabs, right here in the North Country above Warrensburg. Not just a single car either, several companies that range widely through the mountains. You don’t need a taxi unless you are going someplace local.

James Kunstler (recently interviewed locally here) has been the most public area voice for localism. His books are a must-read for people interested in what future local economies could look like:

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape (1994)

Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century (1998)

The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century (2006)

One thing Kunstler makes clear, is that it’s not just about energy – food is as important, and there are several ways to get informed about going local.

NCPR recently celebrated 10 years of the Warrensburg Riverfront Farmers’ Market, and new markets have been established around the region in recent years. Local Harvest does a good job online showing where you can find local farmers and farmers markets in our region, but eating local means more than local farmer’s markets. It means connecting with a local CSA (Community Supporter Agriculture) farm, it means growing your own food (alone and in cooperation with your neighbors), and it means shopping locally for locally produced goods.

Speaking of growing your own, Cornell Cooperative Extension has a program for beginning framers that has recently expanded on the web. According to NCPR who recently reported the news, the new site:

…guides new farmers, and farmers changing crops or marketing strategy, step by step through starting a farm business: from setting goals and writing a business plan, to evaluating land, to taxes and permits. There’s a frequently asked questions section, worksheets to download, and an ongoing forum. The website is the latest offering from the New York Beginning Farmers Resource Center. The center is based at Cornell, but its roots are in the North Country.

We need to get to know our local farmers. The Wild Center is holding two more “Farmer Market Days 2008” on September 11th, and October 2nd “in celebration and promotion of the wonderful local food producers in the Adirondack Region.” Naturally we can’t live on the mostly fancy foods the Wild Center’s program seems to focus on, but their effort is a good start to introducing local farm operations to the Adirodnack community at large.

Adirondack Harvest is a buy local food group that was started 7 years ago. They recently received a $50,000 grant to expand their program, which they describe on their site:

Since its inception in 2001, Adirondack Harvest has grown to encompass Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, and Warren counties in northeastern New York. These counties contain major sections of the Adirondack Park and the Champlain Valley. Our focus has been on expanding markets for local farm products so that consumers have more choice of fresh farm products and on assisting farmers to increase sustainable production to meet the expanding markets.

A more direct path to lessening food costs and supporting local farms comes from Adirondack Pork, aka Yellow House Farm and a member of Adirondack Harvest, where you can buy a whole or half locally raised pig (or go in on one with another family). A whole pig serves a family of four for about 6-9 months, depending on your eating habits. They raise a pig for you until it weighs about 200-225 pounds. Your pork is prepared for you by a local butcher – you tell them any special cuts, wrapping, etc., you want. Your meat comes to you wrapped, labeled and frozen. It takes a lot less freezer space then you would imagine, and its cheaper.

The bottom line is the economy is changing and the sooner we accept that it true and end our reliance on the big box stores filled with products from half a world away and their corporate partners. They have a stranglehold on our local economy and it’s time we fought back.



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