Picture a vegetable garden full of bright flowers and variable foliage. Instead of a giant garden with straight rows of vegetables, you have many smaller beds, each a jumble of vegetables, herbs and flowers. A waste of space? Not at all! It turns out that vegetable gardens that exult in variety are inclined to be the most productive. Companion planting, folks – that’s the name of the game. A classic book in the lexicon of gardeners is Carrots Love Tomatoes. Since this book came out, however, many others have joined the bookshelf, and one of my favorites is Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham. This book has almost become my garden bible because it is not only chocked full of great gardening advice, but it is immensely readable!
The key to a successful garden really is variety. You want to avoid the monoculture. When you plant expanses of just one type of plant (be it trees, flowers, or vegetables), you increase the odds that some disease or insect pest will find it and destroy it. If, on the other hand, you mix things up, garden survival rates soar!
But you don’t just want to chuck plants/seeds haphazardly into your garden; you need to follow a plan, you need to mix and match appropriately. For example, carrots and onions/chives are great companions. Carrots can be susceptible to carrot rust flies and onions/chives deter them. Onions are great for companions for many plants, actually, because of their pest-repellent qualities. Carrots also like caraway/coriander, calendulas and chamomile.
Beans and potatoes – these are a classic combo because the beans will help deter Colorado potato beetles. Here’s my two cents worth on this: bush beans yes, pole beans no. Make sure you use the right beans! Beets and onions are another good pair – alternate these root vegetables in your garden plots (I’ll discuss garden plots vs garden rows in another post). Your cabbage family plants (like broccoli) do well with aster family plants (like zinnias, dill and marigolds). Growing corn? Then you might want to try the traditional corn-beans-squash trio that many of our native people used (and still use). Plant your greens among your garlic, or under your cucumbers, or under broccoli and cauliflower, where the leaves will shade the tender greens from the harsh summer sun. Tomatoes do well with basil and peppers – all your pizza ingredients in one bed!
Nasturtiums, cosmos, calendulas and marigolds all feature prominantly in my veg garden – they provide wonderful spots of color, but also attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. Buckwheat is another great attractant for pollinators, and it’s also a great green manure when turned into the soil.
So break away from the boring vegetable garden. Turn it instead into a riot of color and textures. Mix and match your herbs and flowers and vegetables, and then see if your produce doesn’t do better for the effort.
Laurie Davis, Adirondack Harvest Coordinator, has announced a new opportunity to market local farm and forest products. Dave and Cynthia Johnston, owners of DaCy Meadow Farm on Route 9N in Westport, are opening a farm stand exclusively featuring Adirondack Harvest products. For a small fee ($5 for 2009) they are willing to sell your products at their stand with no markup and no profit to themselves; participants will receive full retail price for their product. According to Davis “their goal is to support Adirondack Harvest and our members while providing a beautiful farm stand for local folks and tourists.” The stand also includes an agricultural art gallery and hosts special events. They are situated along Route 9N – a very busy road near Lake Champlain. For more information contact Dave Johnston at 518-962-2350 or email via at [email protected] While we’re at it, check out the new website developed by the North Country Regional Foods Initiative – www.nnyregionallocalfoods.org – which provides information on how to find regional foods and resources to help communities support and expand local food marketplaces.
The new website includes links to online tools designed to connect producers and consumers, research-based publications about North Country local foods, a calendar of local food events, and links to ongoing local foods work in the North Country.
The forecast says the low temperature tonight in Saranac Lake will be 22 degrees. The apple tree we share with a neighbor decided to bloom yesterday. What to do?
Since the tree has thrived at an elevation of about 2,000 feet for longer than anyone living in this neighborhood can remember, it must be a pretty cold-hardy variety. But a deep freeze at blossom time really threatens to thin the crop. So we called Bob Rulf, who owns Rulf’s Orchards, in Peru. He said it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to light charcoal in a couple of grills beneath the tree (this is a pretty big tree) and keep the smoke rising. Between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. is the coldest part of the night, Rulf said. The temperature is only supposed to get down to about 29 degrees in Peru, the more-temperate apple basket of the Adirondacks. Cornell Cooperative Extension advises that when an apple blossom is tight and in the pink it can stand 30 degrees F for an hour; when it’s wide-open white it can stand 28 degrees for an hour, which seems counterintuitive, Rulf said.
His orchard is not equipped with wind machines or any large-scale equipment for dealing with frosts, so he’ll take his chances with the apples. However Rulf does plan to tow a furnace around the strawberry patch tonight with helpers riding along to blow hot air on that crop.
Believe it or not, some of your vegetables will benefit from the application of an innoculant. We’re not talking vine flu here, or spinach pox, but the addition of a few beneficial bacteria to give your veg an extra boost. And not just any veg: legumes.
Legumes are those vegetables that have nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots, which enable them to access naturally occurring nitrogen much more readily than plants that don’t have them. Your basic legumes are peas, beans, peanuts, and fava beans. And with the probable exception of the peanuts, all can be grown here in the North Country. The bacteria in question is Rhizobia. It is a naturally occurring bacterium, but apparently it isn’t terribly active. In order for it to be of tremendous benefit to your plants, you need lots of it! This is where the innoculant comes in. Innoculant can be ordered from almost any seed catalogue. It does have an expiration date, so you should check to be sure that what you purchase is good for the year you want to use it. I bought some last year but never used it. I found it in a drawer of my fridge this spring and decided to see if it was still viable. I’ll let you know.
So, you get this little packet of Rhizobia (millions and millions of them in one tiny packet). How you apply it is up to you. You can shake it onto your seeds after you plant them, you can shake your seeds in a bag with it, or you can mix it up as a slurry and soak your seeds in it. I did the latter: 4.5 oz water and the bacteria. It was like mixing up mushroom spoors in water: a very fine black powder. If you go the water route, you must be sure to not let it dry out – use within 24 hours. Don’t let the wind dry your seeds, either. If the innoculant dries, the bacteria are dead.
The only real downside that I discovered in doing the slurry method is that my fingers and hand ended up coated with the black slurry of bacteria as well. Hm – I wonder if I’ll absorb more nitrogen this summer as well.
Do you have to use innoculant? Of course not. I never have before now, my parents never did, and I doubt my grandparents did either. But sources claim that you can have up to 77% more peas/beans/peanuts if you do use it! Hm. I picked an awful lot of peas last year. I planted even more this year, and I used the innoculant. I may be overrun with peas. Wouldn’t that be a shame?
At MFO training, agro-forestry expert Bob Beyfuss talked about income opportunities for forest owners that don’t include logging. Here are a few things folks can do according to Bob:
Recreation: hunting leases, cabins, and cottages for various seasons. Take a look at www.aplacetohunt.net and www.woodlandowners.org. Silvapasture is leasing for grazing or browsing. Although now somewhat limited for elk and deer due to Chronic Wasting Disease and it’s not for sheep or cattle (they cause too much forest damage), there are opportunities for goats. Goats love burdock, beech, and especially poison ivy. They still may need to be fed if they are grazing in strictly forested lands.
Maple syrup production – I’ve already covered that here.
Ginseng, goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh, ramp/wild leeks, and fiddleheads are just a few of the botanicals that can be managed on forest lands for profit. Contrary to popular belief, while nothing can be taken from state land, only ginseng and goldenseal are regulated on private land. Old ginseng can sell for $1,700 a pound. Other opportunities include native ornamental plants like foam flower, maidenhead fern, and a lot more. In 1900, there were 5,000 ginseng farms in New York State and New York was the leading producer.
Mushrooms: chanterelles and morelles can be gathered, but oysters and shitakes can be grown at home (shitakes can bring $16 a pound).
This spring has many of us North Country gardeners in a quandary: do I put in my peas yet or not? The rule of thumb here in Newcomb is not to plant before Memorial Day Weekend, but this year the weather has been so balmy so early that we are itching to get those early veggies started. Seed packets come with instructions like “Plant after all danger of frost has passed,” or “Plant as soon as the ground can be worked.” The latter applies to peas. And with the scorching weather at the end of April, it was really really hard NOT to plant – I had to keep telling myself, “It’s still April.” And even though peas and spinach are cool weather plants, killer frosts and even snow are not out of the question.
I ran into a neighbor that last weekend in April and we immediately started talking peas. He said that if he could get his tiller going that day, he’d plant his; I heard the tiller rumbling the rest of the morning. And I hear that the doctor over in Long Lake put his peas in, too. I decided to spend the day prepping my veg beds instead, getting ALL of them ready for planting a little later in the season.
Last Sunday, as the weeding continued, I uncovered a whole bowlful of leftover potatoes in one of the beds! Mmmm – fresh potatoes in May! I even have undug onions and last year’s leeks resprouting! We’ll see if they grow into edible bulbs.
Meanwhile, every day the tomatoes are getting a bit taller in the kitchen, and the squashes I started are, eh, doing so-so (I was a bit over-anxious and started them a wee bit too soon). The flower seeds I started a week or so ago are sprouting now, too.
So, we wait and practice patience. Still, there is something appealing in being able to plant the garden BEFORE the blackflies come out!
Nearly everyone who endures long Adirondack winters understands how important flowering houseplants and a bit of green can be to lift the spirits. An African violet on the window sill or a simple spider plant in the hall can make a difference!
Adirondack housekeepers felt the same need for “green” in a winter landscape a century ago. However, the practical challenges of indoor gardening would have been daunting. Before central heating and modern insulation — water sometimes froze at night, while overcast skies and the expense of window glass made houses perpetually dim inside. Adirondack Museum Curator Hallie Bond will present “Mountain Greenery” on March 22, 2009 at the Museum, a program on the joys and challenges of keeping houseplants at the turn of the last century. Diaries, historic photographs, and regional literature document how Adirondack women once added cheer and beauty to a long, dreary season.
Houseplants were also treasured because they provided connections to others in the community. Adirondack women cut blooms for winter weddings or funerals and shared cuttings with special friends. “Mountain Greenery” will provide an interesting footnote to the history of nineteenth century rural life and offer tips about hardy heritage houseplants for today’s indoor gardeners.
Hallie E. Bond has been Curator at the Adirondack Museum since 1987. She has written extensively on regional history and material culture including Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks, published by Syracuse University Press in 1995 and ‘A Paradise for Boys and Girls‘ Children’s Camps in the Adirondacks, Syracuse University Press, 2005.
The program is part of the museum’s popular Cabin Fever Sunday series. Held in the Auditorium, the presentation will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m. Cabin Fever Sundays are offered at no charge to museum members and children of elementary school age or younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00. Refreshments will be served. For additional information, please call the Education Department at (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit the museum’s web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.
The farmer-led Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has added resources for meat and dairy goat producers to its website at www.nnyagdev.org. The website includes fact sheets prompted by the Empire State Meat Goat Producers’ Association (ESMGPA) and prepared by Cornell University’s Animal Science Department on feeding, breeding, pasture management, health care and the Kidding with Confidence mentoring handbook sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension and ESMGPA on the site. A January 31st meeting set for 1-3 pm to provide resources and information for those raising or interested in raising meat, dairy and pet goats will be held at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County Learning Farm in Canton and telecast to the Extension offices in Watertown and Westport. The meeting will cover general goat management and care and marketing. The meetings are free, however, pre-registration is requested – call Cornell Cooperative Extension at 315-379-9192 x234 for St. Lawrence County, at 315-788-8450 for Jefferson County, and 518-962-4810 for Essex County (pre-registration required).
According to meeting organizer and Livestock Educator Betsy Hodge with Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, there is an interest in meat goats in the North Country and a need to provide resources that relate to farms in New York. The Cornell fact sheets now available on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website apply to goat farming in the Northeast and are especially good for people interested in starting a goat enterprise to read before purchasing goats.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County Executive Director Anita Deming has noted that a diverse mix of people are raising goats in the North Country. “We have one producer selling meat goats as breeding stock and a new dairy goat farm that has recently begun selling goat cheese”, she said “Information on good animal husbandry and on business planning for those who would like to operate a farm business with goats is always useful.”
According to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County Dairy & Livestock Educator Ron Kuck, Jefferson County has farmers raising goats for meat, for milk and for value-added product sales, such as goat’s milk soap. They are always interested in the latest information that will help them enhance their production and marketing practices.
Meat goat producer Karen Stumpf of Thousand Islands Goat Farm in Cape Vincent, NY, is Region 2 Director for the Empire State Meat Goat Producers Association. Stumpf thinks goat farming has great potential to add to the agriculturally-based economy of Northern New York. She says they are beginning to establish new herds and develop the networking that will support marketing, processing and sales opportunities for all producers.
Dr. Tatiana Luisa Stanton, a goat specialist with Cornell University’s Animal Science Department is currently developing the kidding season mentoring program for 2009. The program pairs experienced, knowledgeable goat farmers with new producers as they experience their first kidding season.
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program provided funding for the on-farm evaluations. Those interested in the mentoring program may contact Dr. Stanton at Cornell University at 607-254-6024, [email protected], or call your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office.
The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program provides on-farm research, education and outreach to the diverse agricultural sectors in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Learn more at www.nnyagdev.org.
The Wild Center and Cornell Cooperative Extension have partnered on a beginner gardening series at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Aspiring gardeners can join the crew from Cornell Cooperative Extension and The Wild Center for a series of presentations focusing on gardening skills for people who want to start or expand their gardens. Getting a successful garden going can be tough, especially in the North County, and this series is designed to help people get past the first few hurdles that stop too many area gardens before they get going. Participants will find out what to plant, where to plant it, and how to keep plants alive. The series includes practical ways to start growing vegetables, berries and/or herbs in your own backyard. The beginners gardening workshops will be interactive and packed with information you can take home and put to use. Veteran gardeners are welcome to join in and share their knowledge. 1/17 – Let’s get started! 1 pm in the Flammer Theatre Do you have a great garden in mind but aren’t sure where to begin? One of the first steps is to plan your gardening space and decide if you should plant in open soil, containers, or in raised beds. Join Anne Lenox Barlow, from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County, to learn what gardening layouts are most appropriate for your yard, lifestyle and needs. Proper planning prior to the start of the planting season will put you on track to have a bountiful harvest this summer and fall. Following a detailed presentation, Anne will facilitate small group conversations and allow time for you to talk with an Adirondack gardening expert.
2/7 – How to pick what to plant? 1pm in the Flammer Theatre Do you dream of fresh tomatoes? Lettuce galore? Luscious berries? Join Amy Ivy, from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County, as she explores your gardening selection possibilities and makes suggestions for easy-to-grow plants for beginners. Following a detailed presentation, Amy will facilitate small group conversations and allow time for you to talk with an Adirondack gardening expert.
3/7 – How Can I extend my gardens growing season? 1 pm in the Flammer Theatre Potential gardeners shouldn’t be scared away by the short growing season in the Adirondacks. Join Richard Gast, from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, to discuss some techniques for extending the growing season that have been successful in the North Country. There are devices that can add a few weeks to the front end of your growing season and again in the fall as well as ways to make the most of our short growing season. Following the detailed presentation, Richard will facilitate small group conversation and allow time for you to talk with an Adirondack gardening expert. 3/28 – Trouble Shooting and Trouble Prevention 1pm in the Flammer Theatre Are you worried about battling beetles, deer or groundhogs in your garden? Are you wondering how veteran gardeners manage their insect, disease, or weed problems? These gardeners have learned ways to help their plants thrive while protecting the environment. Emily Selleck from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County, will share her knowledge of tips and ideas to make your garden healthy and productive. Following a detailed presentation, Emily will facilitate small group conversations and allow time for you to talk with an Adirondack gardening expert.
This program is free for members or with paid admission. No pre-registration is required. For more information on The Wild Center and its programs, visit www.wildcenter.org or call (518) 359-7800.
More and more consumers are looking for local foods. Community leaders are increasingly supportive of developing farmers markets and other venues for regional farmers to sell their products locally. A new website developed by the North Country Regional Foods Initiative – www.nnyregionallocalfoods.org – provides information on how to find regional foods and resources to help communities support and expand local food marketplaces.
The new website includes links to online tools designed to connect producers and consumers, research-based publications about North Country local foods, a calendar of local food events, and links to ongoing local foods work in the North Country. Publications on the new website range from how to find money to strengthen local food systems and guides to increase the consumption of local farm products to cookbooks, advice on how to serve local foods at events, and economic analysis of farmers’ markets and other community-based food systems.
The site also includes the North Country Regional Foods Initiative’s series of research briefs, fact sheets and recommendations intended for other farmers, food business owners/operators, consumers, policymakers and community & economic developers working to enhance and sustain agriculture in Northern New York.
The report includes social and economic impact data generated by local/regional foods operations and the Northern New York-based organizations that support them and a summary of the spring 2008 conference on the role of Adirondack North Country foods in community and economic development.
The initiative was developed through a partnership of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties and the Economic Development Administration University Center at CaRDI and designed to document how local food businesses and activities benefit the northern New York region and identify strategies for enhancing those benefits.
According to CaRDI’s Ag Economic Development Specialist, Duncan Hilchey, consumer surveys, in particular the Empire State Poll conducted by the Cornell University Survey Research Institute in 2007, show that 78.5% of the New York State residents age 18 and older buy local foods and 37.4% of that group said they go out of their way to buy local food.
Partnerships between producers, consumers, community and economic developers and local officials can serve as a model for bringing community members together to support other regional development efforts. Those interested in learning about and supporting local food activities in the North Country may now join a regional electronic network.
To activate entry into the [email protected] listserv, send an email to [email protected] with “Add me to the NNY Local/Regional Foods List” in the Subject line. More information on local and regional food initiatives is available from members of the Northern New York Regional Agriculture Program Direct Marketing/Local Foods team and the Community and Rural Development Institute (CaRDI):
Franklin County: Bernadette Logozar, (518) 483-7403, bel7[AT]cornell.edu
Clinton County: Anne Barlow-Lennox, (518) 561-7450, alb326[AT]cornell.edu
Adirondack Harvest – a community organization focused on expanding markets for local farm products so consumers have more choices of fresh farm products and on assisting farmers to increase sustainable production to meet the expanding markets; www.adirondackharvest.com
Adirondack North Country Association – a 14-county association committed to economic improvement. Since incorporation in 1954, ANCA has worked to create a greater sense of regional identity and pride through advocacy and promotion; www.adirondack.org/
Community and Rural Development Institute (CARDI) – Since 1990, the Institute at Cornell University has responded to current and emerging needs in community and rural development; works with Cornell faculty and staff, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and other state and regional institutions; http://devsoc.cals.cornell.edu/outreach/cardi/
Cornell Farm to School Program – provides resource development, educational programs, and evaluation to support efforts to increase the amount of locally produced food served in NY’s schools, colleges, universities & other institutions; http://farmtoschool.cce.cornell.edu/
Farmers’ Market Federation of New York – a grassroots membership organization of farmers’ market managers, market sponsors, farmers and market supporters, offering services to increase the number and capacity of farmers’ markets in NY, develop the scope of professionalism in farmers’ market management and improve the ability of markets to serve their farmers, their consumers and their host communities; www.nyfarmersmarket.com/
FoodRoutes – a project of FoodRoutes Network, a national nonprofit organization that provides communications tools, technical support, networking and information resources to organizations nationwide that are working to rebuild local, community-based food systems; www.foodroutes.org
GardenShare – a non-profit organization working to end hunger in northern NY; focuses on local foods; harvest sharing; farm-to-school; food security; home gardening; and public policy; publishes free quarterly newsletter and St. Lawrence County Local Food Guide; and operates the EBT terminal for Food Stamp Program participants at the Canton Farmers Market; www.gardenshare.org
MarketMaker – interactive mapping system locates businesses and markets of agricultural products in NY, providing an important link between producers and consumers; http://nymarketmaker.cornell.edu/
Pride of NY Member Search – The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Pride of NY Program promotes and supports the sale of agricultural products grown and food products processed within New York State; http://www.prideofny.com/
USDA Community Food Systems – A Nutrition Assistance Program through USDA, contains general resources and information from farm to table and links to specific topics such as eating in a community food system; food entrepreneurship; and, community food systems research; http://fnicsearch.nal.usda.gov/fnicsearch.
Rivermede Farm owner-manager Robert “Rob” Hastings of Keene Valley, NY, was selected from more than 60 nominees from more than 20 states for the sixth annual Glynwood Harvest Farmer Award. The awards recognize leaders in the farm community who practice sustainable production and have developed cutting edge approaches to production, processing or marketing. The Glynwood Center of Cold Spring, NY, is a not-for-profit organization that helps communities sustain local agriculture and preserve farmland through economically-productive and environmentally-sensitive practices. The Glynwood Harvest Awards Selection Committee includes representatives of farming, conservation, culinary and community food security interests from across the U.S. The awards were presented at Beacon Restaurant in New York City.
Hastings is recognized as an exceptional innovator and community leader for New York’s Adirondack Mountain region. He has pioneered advances in season extension and pesticide-free production of vegetables, fruits, maple, cut flowers and holiday greens.
Hastings uses a photovoltaic system to meet the farm’s electrical needs and plans to install a geothermal or solar heating system to heat his greenhouses. He says that he hopes to be ninety percent free of oil dependency in the next three years.
Hastings is a founding member of Adirondack Harvest, the community-based farms and foods program. He serves on Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) Horticulture Sub-Committee, helping to guide the regional research, education and outreach program that funds projects to enhance the productivity and profitability of farms in New York’s six northernmost counties.
Adirondack Harvest Chairman Thomas F. Both helped make the nomination of Hastings for the Glynwood Award.
Hastings participates in NNYADP on-farm research and regularly hosts workshops for other growers interested in learning more about his use of high tunnels for extending the growing season for horticultural crop production. He shares his experiences with the pros and cons of the various types of tunnels, construction, glazing, and cropping patterns. He says his goal is to develop production practices that will allow me to grow multiple crops 12 months a year in the challenging Adirondack climate.
Rivermede Farm Market at 1925 NYS Route 73, Keene Valley, NY, is open May through December daily 9am to 6 pm. That’s Rob Hastings of Rivermede Farm in the center of the photo receiving the 2008 Glynwood Harvest Farmer Award from Glynwood Center President Judith LaBelle and Chairman of the Board Chip Allemann.
An Adirondack hotel that has gone all out to go green and educate guests, a Capital Region college that has taken big steps to reduce its ecological footprint, and a Hudson Valley school district effort to protect the water supply, reduce waste and run an organic garden are among the winners of the 2008 Environmental Excellence Awards announced today by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis. The fifth annual New York State Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony took place in Albany today to acknowledge the winners and their projects. There were more than 40 applicants, with submissions coming from industry, local governments, advocacy groups, educational institutions, and the hospitality sector. A committee of 20 representatives from the public and private sectors selected the winning submissions.
“The projects selected are outstanding examples of how we can solve environmental challenges by using innovative and environmentally sustainable practices or creative partnerships.” Grannis said. “By recognizing New York’s environmental and conservation leaders, we hope to inspire stewardship so that others can make significant positive impacts and protect New York’s natural resources.”
Energy efficiency. Water conservation. Recycling. Green grounds. Environmental education. The Golden Arrow Resort has instituted green programs on a variety of fronts to reduce the environmental impact not only of the hotel, but also of the traveler. It features a “green roof” – a rooftop expanse of native plants that provides wildlife habitat, reduces water runoff and helps keep the inn warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A limestone beach reduces the impacts of acid rain. In-room recycling, insulated windows, energy-efficient lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures are also part of the mix. The hotel offers incentives for guests that travel by foot, ski, bike or hybrid car. The Golden Arrow also assists others in the hospitality industry find ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
Brewster School District, Putnam County
Through its multi-faceted “Environmental Education/Sustainable Practices Project,” the Brewster Central School District has demonstrated leadership in protecting the environment and in promoting environmental education. This project includes significant capital improvements and managerial processes to save energy and to protect the region’s water supply by preventing excessive plant growth, loss of oxygen and fish kills in the receiving waters. The project also includes educational activities that have developed students’ awareness of environmental issues and have empowered them with opportunities to participate in meaningful, innovative, hands-on activities that have measurable environmental impacts. Accomplishments have already included a 50 percent district-wide reduction in solid waste production, a student-run organic garden, and a technologically advanced wastewater treatment facility built in 2007. Improvements have resulted in more than 17 percent in annual energy savings, 1,724,388 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions prevented, and 250,000 cubic feet each of paper and plastic waste diverted from landfills.
Union College has instituted the U-Sustain initiative – an innovative, campus-wide program that involves faculty, staff, students and administrators with the goals of reducing the ecological footprint of the college, increasing environmental awareness on campus and in the community, and making the college more sustainable. Accomplishments thus far include the renovation of student apartments to be an eco-friendly house, energy reduction strategies, dining options that include student volunteers working with dining services to provide fresh, local and organic meals, initiatives to offset energy consumption, and increased recycling/waste reduction opportunities.
These public agencies worked together to develop an innovative guide, “Stream Processes: A Guide to Living in Harmony with Streams,” that describes how streams work and why functioning floodplains are integral parts of the stream system. The guide contains dramatic photographs that help promote the need for sound management practices. The lessons learned can be applied to stream channels, floodplains, stream corridors, and watershed activities that do not trigger regulatory actions. The guide has already begun having a positive effect on decisions made by Chemung County landowners and local highway departments and its reach is expanding as a result of more than 30,000 guides being distributed to a variety of audiences throughout New York State.
The City of Kingston partnered the Aslan Group to develop a new and innovative system – the first of its kind in the world – for managing wastewater treatment plant residuals in an economical and environmentally sound manner. Waste “biogas” is captured from the plant’s digesters and utilized as the only required fuel to turn 10 wet-tons-per-day of municipal wastewater sludge into one ton-per-day of an EPA-recognized pelletized usable “biosolid.” The biosolid is distributed free of charge for use as a lawn fertilizer or furnace fuel, which costs less than the previous practice of landfill disposal. Also, methane gas is efficiently utilized within the process as a fuel and since very little methane is flared, oxides of nitrogen and other pollutant emissions have been reduced.
New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, Albany County
The committee’s Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) – Farming New York Cleaner and Greener program serves as a national model of how a voluntary, incentive-based approach to agricultural management can successfully protect and enhance soil and water resources, while preserving the economic viability of a diverse agricultural community. AEM assists farmers in making practical, cost-effective decisions that result in the sustainable use of New York’s natural resources. Recently the program has expanded efforts to assist vineyards. Currently 52 growers have completed a new self-assessment workbook, which has resulted in the development of 16 action plans that implemented an average of nine improved farming practices at each location. While AEM supports voluntary environmental stewardship, it is also a vehicle by which changes in environmental regulations have been effectively implemented at over 600 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Plans have been successfully developed for all 147 large CAFOs and 92 percent of the state’s 472 medium sized CAFOs. More than 10,000 New York farm families participate and receive information, education and technical assistance so that farmers are able to operate cleaner and greener while competing in today’s global market.
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:
The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape (1994)
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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