Years ago, you simply didn’t see wild turkeys unless you were lucky. The birds were abundant in New York forest in colonial times but by the early 1800s had been all but hunted out. According to SUNY-ESF:
Reports indicate that wild turkeys were abundant in New York State during the 1600’s. However, the combination of uncontrolled hunting and the intensive clearing of forests resulted in the demise of native populations. In 1844, the last recorded observation of native wild turkeys came from extreme southwestern New York State.
For over a century, the wild turkey continued to be absent from the New York landscape. However, in the late 1940’s, wild turkeys had moved northward from Pennsylvania and were reported again in southwestern New York. Wild turkeys were re-established in New York by 1957, but occupied only the extreme southwest portion of the state. During the same year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation began relocating birds to areas of the state that were capable of sustaining wild turkey populations.
The return of the wild turkey to New York State is truly a success story in the field of wildlife conservation. Wild turkey populations in New York have increased dramatically from an estimated 2,000 in 1959 to over 65,000 in 1990.
Today, it seems turkeys are everywhere. A recent National Wildlife Federation report pointed to the influx of turkeys into suburban areas from Boston to Schenectady County (along with fishers and bears). The population boom means that now is the time to shift toward eating local birds rather then having artificially raised commercial turkeys shipped across the country to your Thanksgiving table. Not enough meat you say? Nonsense. A mature gobbler can stand weigh in at 24 pounds (and stand 4 feet with a 5-foot wing span). The National Wild Turkey federation has a variety of recipe ideas on their website.
If you are not into hunting and don’t know a turkey hunter, try out a local farm-raised bird. At Harvest Hill Farm in Willsboro – (518) 963-1127 – Michael and Laurie Davis sell all-natural pasture raised turkeys (reserve early). At Windswept Meadows Farm in Watertown – (315) 788-1933 – Thomas & Delta Keeney are 3rd generation farmers who plants food crops specifically for turkeys.
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
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.
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:
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.
One of the sites we keep tabs on here at the Adirondack Almanack is Dave Hurteau’s blog Field Notes. He’s often got his huntin’ and fishin’ blinders on, but Hurteau (an editor at Field & Stream) lives in Upstate New York and many of his posts are about our region – last month he looked at the fish stocking controversy over at the Battenkill in Washington County.
Vermont Fish and Wildlife announced a plan to stock the Battenkill with non-native rainbow trout, the Orvis Company threatened to take back a promised $100,000 grant for the stream’s habitat restoration. Guess who won that battle.
Why you’re there, check out these two recent posts:
According to the latest study, 43 percent of the fish consumed by humans now come from aquaculture, compared to just 9 percent in 1980. That’s 45.5 million tons of farmed fish, worth $63 billion, eaten each year, according to this press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. [Link]
Malden Nesheim, a professor emeritus of nutrition at Cornell University and chairman of the Institute of Medicine committee, said the panel actually found slim evidence for many claims about the health benefits of fish as well as the dangers. “We were surprised at the lack of reliable data on the distribution of contaminants in our seafood supply or on how the benefits might counteract the risks,” he told reporters. [Link]
Clare and Carl’s, Gus’ Red Hots and McSweeney’s Red Hots are featured in the October issue of Gourmet magazine, which has a story on michigans. The North Country hot dog and meat sauce combo has made the big time.
The Glens Falls Post Star is reporting that there will be a “bumper pot crop” in Washington County thanks to hot and humid weather this summer. “We’re hearing it’s a great crop,” said Saratoga County Undersheriff Michael Woodcock, “It was jungle-like weather, and it is a tropical plant.”
The PS reports: “With its prodigious farmland, Washington County has long been one of the biggest producers of marijuana in the Northeast, though the advent of indoor growing operations has led to a drop in seizures over the past decade or so. In the early 1990s, 10,000 to 15,000 plants were pulled up annually in the county.The agricultural areas of Saratoga County have also been significant pot-producers over the years. This summer, local police will be able to employ a new, old weapon in the search for illicit pot patches.”
It seems that the Iraq War has taken qualified helicopter pilots out of the local pot-busting action, but starting this year the old helicopters will be back thanks to the newly established Northern Branch of the Capital District Drug Task Force which covers Saratoga, Washington and Warren counties.
“We’re hearing it’s going to be a pretty good year,” said Cambridge-Greenwich Police Chief George Bell. Cambridge was the site of the biggest seizure so far this summer, when State Police pulled up 103 plants last month in the hamlet of Center Cambridge.
The question is – when will they start prosecuting all those poppy growers in our region? As Jim Hogshire pointed out a few years ago in an article in The Atlantic Monthly, poppies grown by millions of home gardeners are fully capable of producing opium. Here’s an excerpt from his book Opium for the Masses:
Very potent, low cost opium is available in virtually every town in the country. It is entirely possible that it is carried by your local grocer. It’s even possible that you could walk into a grocery store and come out with all the ingredients you need to make your own morphine and perhaps even heroin if you’re clever.
A while back (a long while back) William Dowd’s Hops To It post got us thinking about doing a nice piece on the history of hops in New York and the Adirondacks; Especially now that the Beer Hawkers have returned to the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Hops, once a leading specialty crop in New York state, suffered from plant disease and insect pests. Prohibition in the 1930s also helped spell the crop’s demise, and 50 years ago, production ceased.
The last beer made entirely from New York-grown hops was brewed in the 1950s.
In the Adirondacks hops were an important supplemental crop for many farmers and hop picking provided income to many women and children as well. In Merrilsville George Lamson hired local women to pick his hops every year – Mrs. Henry Fadden wrote a poem about her hop-picking experience:
I went picking hops and though I worked with a will, I had to go back with my box half filled.
To find my house in disorder, my dishes unwashed. The children were sleepy, my husband was cross;
And because I didn’t get the supper before I swept the floor, He kicked the poor dog and slammed the back door.
And said that if I would leaving picking hops alone, He would give me a job of picking stone.
His advice was unheeded, I refused with disdain, And resolved the next day to try it again.
Convinced if only I would do my best, I could pick hops as fast as the rest.
But the weather was cold and I almost froze. My fingers were numb and cold were my toes.
Thus for five long days I labored and toiled, My work was neglected, my temper was spoiled.
And though you may think my experience funny, I am resolved in the future to let the men earn the money.
The last reference I could find regarding the growing of hops in the Adirondack region was a 1949 notice of the arrival of “400 pounds of Bavarian beer hop roots” in Malone where “local growers hope to revive a once-flourishing New York industry.” Unfortunately, the importers were not mentioned by name, and how the experiement went was never revealed.
NYCO offers the latest on this winter’s chances for a big, big, big, snow and Baloghblog is taking steps toward that end. And now “AccuWeather.com meteorologist Ken Reeves is predicts “a very cold winter” for New York – after average winter temperatures last year – contributing to an estimated 50% increase in winter heating oil charges.” Storm Digest has some not so friendly things to say about our coming weather situation. The Post Star, as usual, waffles.
We ordered a new exterior door, are closing up our drafts, and buying some extra socks.
Friends of Rural New York have been following closely the recent Lewis County spill, larger that the Exxon Valdez, of cow sewage into the Black River. Big fines may be on the way, but the real crime is that the DEC and local officials permitted a 3 million gallon toxic dump so close to the river. The Adirondack Almanack supports local farms and agrees that its time we made a clear distinction between factory farms:
That is a giant factory where thousands of animals are permanently kept, never feeling the sun on their backs or munching a blade of grass. A CAFO (Contained Animal feeding Operation) can generate thousands of pounds of manure a day, suck up hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, and throw in various chemicals to “sanitize,” promote decay and boost milk production. What do they do with all that poop? Well, after it’s settled in nasty lagoons around the neighborhood, where it decays and festers for a while, they suck it up into these huge tankers and spew the putrid mix wherever they can, the closer to the CAFO the better, because it’s quite expensive to haul all that fetid effluent way. En route, the neighbors are blasted by the stench, the noise and the dust for days on end.
And local family operated traditional farms. To those ends – a list of local farmers markets from the USDA, and a regional map from the Farmers Market Federation of NY. Finally, we need to take responsibility for our own food choices – two of our favorite choices are the Honest Weight Food Co-op (when we get down to Albany) and a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) projects. HANNYS [pdf] (Hunger Action Network of New York State) has recently released two reports. The first “gives detailed stories of nine New York CSA’s that have reached out to include low-income members” and the second “is a report based on the results of Hunger Action’s statewide survey of CSA farmers. Findings include the fact that CSA’s keep $2.6 million in our state’s economy every year and protect over 1,100 acres of farmland” [pdf].
Take note Minutemen! The Top Five Terrestrial Invasive Plants for the Lake George Watershed as identified by the Lake George Land Conservancy “because of their ability to be especially detrimental to the health of our public lands roadsides waterways and backyards.” As reported in Adirondack Journal (August 20, 2005) (pdf):
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