Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Local Farm Economics: Are You Paid What You’re Worth?

PigsI have often said that I am blessed because I get paid to do something I love.  And I often put in more hours in my week than I get paid for in my pay check, but it is a balance.  I also for the most part set my own schedule.  Of course we have set office hours, and I have a desk and a chair I am supposed to be in during the work week.  But I also have meetings and consultations outside those office walls.  Because of my job, I have gotten to travel to places I probably wouldn’t have gone on my own.  Have seen and experienced places I would not have done if I hadn’t had the job I do.

At the end of the day, I am fairly certain that I am paid for the work I do and the contributions I have made to my organization and community I live and work in.  So it is rather distressing when many of the people I work with (yep I am talking about farmers) don’t feel they are paid or even that their customers could pay them what they are worth.  So they end up settling for what they feel customers can afford, or that customers expect to pay.  For someone who is trying to inspire farmers to raise good quality products for their customers that they as farmers can be proud of raising, growing or making, it is disheartening to hear the heavy sighs followed by such statements.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Local Meat and Community Freezer Space

k8062-3USDAARSMeat13004Shared community freezer space may prove to be a boon to farmers selling meat in bulk quantities and consumers seeking an economical way to purchase and store local meat.

The local food movement is still going strong here in the North Country. During the winter months we tend to be focused less on the fresh fruits and vegetables and more on the products we can access out of season: honey, maple, dairy, eggs, storage crops, value-added items like jams and mustards, and especially locally-raised meats.

We have many Northern New York farmers raising beef, poultry, pork, bison, lamb, goat, and rabbit, but buying meat from your farmer down the road can seem like a puzzling prospect. The cuts may not look exactly as you’re used to, the price may seem too high, and depending on the method by which they were raised (e.g. grass-fed vs. grain-fed), the cooking styles may need to be adjusted. This is a great example of why it’s to your advantage to get to know your farmer. The farmers I know are chock-full of information about how their animals are raised, the various cuts of meat and great recipes to help you turn that brisket into a melt-in-your-mouth meal.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dan Crane: The Edible Adirondacks

Adirondack wooded gardenSpending time in the Adirondack backcountry requires an entire menagerie of skills, including navigation, endurance and tolerance for being the object of affection for hordes of bloodthirsty flies. Often overlooked are those skills necessary to survive in the wilderness for an extended period without all the convenient gear and compact foods typically carried by most backcountry enthusiasts.

These skills include, but are certainly not limited to, building a shelter, starting a fire and finding something to eat. Although these skills are useful when impressing members of the opposite sex far from civilization, these skills just might mean the difference between life and death when forced to spend a few unexpected days in the remote backcountry.

One important survival skill is locating edible wild foods in the backcountry. Whether lost and in dire need of sustenance or just curious about sampling the local cuisine, knowing what to eat, when and how is crucial to avoid a mouthful of something disgusting, or worse. Although the dense Adirondack forest may appear devoid of anything remotely resembling nourishment, the backcountry is full of nourishing, if not delicious foods, with only the knowledge of where to look for them lacking.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Adirondack Brewery Graphics Will Honor Locals

Ron KonowitzAdirondack Brewery, the micro-brewery based in Lake George, will be honoring the Adirondacks by featuring local outdoor enthusiasts on their new 12-pack case graphics. Dubbed  “Adirondack Challengers,” the new Fall and Winter Mix collections feature sports enthusiasts dedicated to challenging the forces of nature in the Adirondacks.

“The Brewery has always wrapped its image with tales and stories about Adirondack history,” Creative Director Linda Wohlers said in a statement ot the press. “Now, we are fast-forwarding into the present to celebrate actual people who have a passion for getting out into the mountains and on the rivers to challenge mother-nature. Not for glory, but because it’s there and they are going to do it.”  » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cabin Life: The First Eggs

The First EggsYesterday morning, I let the chickens out into their run, just like I always do.  I sprinkled some food in there and gave them my customary “Hey Ladies!”  I’ve stopped trying to keep them in the run, as they seem to get out now whenever they feel like it.

Even so, I closed the plastic over the opening in the run, and went back inside to have some tea.  Whitey is far and away my most vocal chicken, and she was squawking up a storm.  I looked out to see her relentlessly attacking the plastic covering the opening, and as I watched, she escaped.  But to my surprise, she immediately hopped back into the coop. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

After I Pick the Fruit: The Lives of Migrant Women

UnknownA large percentage of the farm workers who harvest New York State’s apples, potatoes, onions, and other fruits and vegetables are immigrants working long hours with no overtime pay, few benefits, low salaries, often substandard housing, and no right to collective bargaining, as those rights fought for over fifty years ago in California by Cesar Chavez were excluded from being applied here.

Illegal immigrants comprise approximately five percent of this workforce. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eating Well from the Root Cellar

USDAScottBauerSweetPotatok9231-1(1)Late November is the time of year I generally like to write about two things: winter storage crops and eating locally for the holidays. This year is no exception because I love the root vegetables we’re able to grow and store here in the North Country. Hopefully you were able to visit the farmers’ markets and stock up before the markets closed. It’s not too late – some markets are open through the holiday season or even through the winter.

So, what’s available now for root vegetables? » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cabin Life: The Escapee Chickens

Whitey and MidgetThe chickens have become escape artists.  I don’t know how they figured out the elaborate trap of chicken wire and plastic that comprises the door to the run, but they’ve managed to get out for two days straight.

I don’t mind letting them roam around when I’m around.  But as the weather gets colder and the predators get more desperate for calories, I’m thinking that the door to the run may have to be reconfigured.  It’s sad to admit, but my half-assed door can’t even contain a bunch of literal bird brains.

It is nice to see them out and about in the yard though.  They have thoroughly picked over the spots where the run had been, and have even seem to have found some food left over in those spots.  I like seeing them come running up to the front door when I walk out, or see them flying for twenty or thirty feet.  They appear to be happy and content, and their tail feathers are sticking up higher than ever.  I’m not sure how much I should read into the angle of their feathers, but I heard somewhere that if their tail feathers are up, then they’re happy. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sportsman Education: A New Hunting Tradition

sepatwThis past year Mary Grose of Herkimer County become a certified Sportsman Education instructor through the Department of Environmental Conservation. The Almanack asked her to relate her experience for our readers.

Hunting symbolizes tradition, family, and a fair chase. Growing up in rural New York State, I was surrounded by the sport of hunting. Friends and family would share hunting stories throughout the years and I wanted to become part of that tradition. As a young girl I was privileged to have a father and brother who taught me about hunting. Now that I am older and an educated hunter I want to share my love of the outdoors with others. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sticks & Stones, Schroon Lake

Sticks&Stones_extSticks & Stones Bistro & Bar in Schroon Lake was just a twinkle in the eyes of owners Steve Holmes and Gary Tromblee when we were wrapping up the selection of our favorite bars in the Adirondack Park. The doors opened at the same time as our book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, hit the market. We recently visited Sticks & Stones and walked away knowing they were a “High Peak” in our book. A Happy Hour MacNaughton. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Amy Ivy: The Last of the Fall Chores


unnamedWe had such a long spell of nice weather this fall that I should have no excuse for not having gotten all my fall outdoor chores finished by now. But I suspect I’m not the only one with a few more to-do items on my list. Here are some tips and suggestions:

We are at the very end of the limit for getting spring flowering bulbs planted. Check your sheds and closets for any lingering bulbs that you bought earlier but still haven’t gotten in the ground. I have a little more garlic to plant as well. It’s late, but I’m optimistic the bulbs will have time to root in before winter. Dig up any tender bulbs that can’t survive the winter. This includes gladioulus, canna lilies and dahlias. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Farmer Pride: Support For Local Agriculture Alive and Well

ADKHarvestFarmAidMap725.5Autumn is, of course, the traditional time to celebrate the harvest.  This is evidenced by the numerous harvest festivals throughout the North Country during September and October.  As a farmer I always appreciate this time of year.  Sure, I love the foliage and crisp air as much as (if not more than) the visiting busloads of leaf-peepers.  But what I truly relish is the prospect of not growing anything for a few months.  I need rest, as does the soil, and winter is the perfect time to recharge.

As Adirondack Harvest coordinator, my autumn work involves lining up farm tours, promoting member events and participating in area festivals.  This year brought something new to the region: Farm Aid.  I had heard about Farm Aid for years – most of us know about the famous Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp-founded musical tour whose mission is to “keep family farmers on their land.”  It seemed a natural fit for Adirondack Harvest to participate this year since the whole gala was coming to Saratoga. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Giant Puffballs: Orbs of the Mushroom World

puff_ballWho left that soccer ball on the front lawn? Come on, you know it didn’t just grow there.

Pretending to confuse a giant puffball mushroom with a soccer ball (or vice versa) is a well-worn joke among mushroom foragers. For the rest of us, finding out that there exists a common mushroom in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire that frequently grows to soccer ball size sounds like more of a hidden-camera, the-joke’s-on-you kind of gag.

Not only do these giant mushrooms exist, says Ari Rockland Miller, a Vermont based mushroom foraging expert, they are edible, even delectable, early in their lifecycle, when their flesh is white and has the consistency of Styrofoam. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Training Planned

image003(1)Cornell Cooperative Extension in Warren County is now accepting applications for the new 2014 Master Gardener Training Program. Space is limited, so contact the office soon for more information and an application.

After enrolling in the course, the participants are provided with a binder of information that supplements the weekly presentations from Cornell University faculty, Cooperative Extension staff, and local experts on a wide range of horticultural topics. The topics include basic botany, entomology, soils, home lawn care, vegetable and fruit gardening, composting, organic gardening and other practical and interesting subject matter. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Community Gardens: How Did Your Garden Grow?

Gardeners diningHow did your garden grow? In Keene, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Paul Smiths, Minerva, Bolton Landing, and an increasing number of other Adirondack villages and hamlets residents are coming together to create community gardens. Keene has a very rugged landscape and many residents simply do not have relatively flat and sunny backyards for individual gardens, but the hamlet does own a large flat field where its airport, farmer’s market, and various community festivals are based.

Several years ago under the leadership of Jim Herman and Dave Mason, and with support of the town board, most especially Paul Martin, a plot of land was set aside near the community-owed Holt House, tilled, and laid out to form eight foot by eight foot plots that were made available for individuals to rent for a modest fee while being given the option of renting more than one on a space available basis. » Continue Reading.