An Introduction to New York’s Farm Distillery Law

By Devin Morgan | December 2nd, 2012

Editor’s Note: We’re very pleased to welcome back Devin Morgan to the Farmshed CNY blog. In this second installment of his series on small business law for farmers and food producers in Central New York and the Finger Lakes, Devin explains New York State’s recently passed Farm Distillery Bill, which loosens the legal restrictions regarding value-added production of distilled spirits using New York State agricultural products. Salute!

An Introduction to New York’s Farm Distillery Law

Have you been thinking about making whiskey from your organic corn, applejack from this year’s apple harvest, or pear vodka using your pears and the potatoes from other NY farms?  Distilled spirits can be a fun and appealing value added product for farmers in New York State.  On October 3, 2012, Governor Cuomo signed a new Farm Distillery Bill that makes this opportunity even more appealing.  The big change is opening up more options for direct sale of farm distilled spirits.  Distilled spirits are still more tightly controlled than beer, cider, or wine, but now you can offer tastings and sell them at Farmers’ Markets and State and County Fairs.  Given the growth and popularity of Farmers’ Markets, this is a great new opportunity.

New York State law has enabled the operation of small batch distilleries through a fairly simple and inexpensive licensing procedure since 2002.  The major requirements were a single identified location and use of “primarily farm and food products” from NYS.  That generally means sourcing most of your ingredients from New York State.  You would want to use at least 75% NYS farm ingredients for meeting New York labeling requirements.  It is a little different from the Farm Winery license, in that a Farm Distillery can be on a farm, but it doesn’t have to be.  The new Farm Brewery licensees have the same option.  But for farmers, growers, and other folks interested in making whiskey, fruit brandies, vodkas, and other spirits on a small scale, it still had some pretty significant limitations on distribution.  You could make it, but you could only sell it where it was made (your farm or separate farm distillery operation).  Or, you needed to find a licensed wholesaler or retailer willing to sell it for you just like large scale operations.  Many times it is difficult to get a retailer or wholesaler to take a chance on a new, small batch product without some sort of track record.  And it takes money to find and woo these people.  It is one of the reasons that so many specialty foods get their starts with Farmers’ Markets and craft shows–the ability to prove your product and fund your search for distribution partners with direct sales from the markets and shows.

Under the new law, Farm Distilleries can get a permit to offer tastings and sell their hooch at Farmers’ Markets, as well as the New York State Fair and recognized County Fairs.  Clearly, the use of the many successful Farmers’ Markets across the state for direct-to-consumer sales of spirits is the big opportunity.  But I have already heard talk of distillers planning to make a splash at next year’s New York State Fair.  It might be worth going just for all of the new and not-so-new Farm Distilleries that can now showcase their products.  And I’m sure that up and coming retailers and distributors interested in local craft spirits will be attending the State Fair and other events with this in mind.

Another very cool aspect of Farm Distilleries enabled by recent changes (including the Farm Brewery law passed this summer) is the opportunity to offer tastings and sell New York beer, cider, and wine from other licensed brewers, farm breweries, wineries, farm wineries, and cider producers.  That’s right, you can sell the full line up of alcoholic products on your farm, as long as they are all made with New York stuff.  That’s something that no liquor or grocery store can do.

You still can’t sell spirits direct to consumer using mail order, common carriers, or the internet, but the combination of what you can do on-site and the ability to go to your customers using Farmers’ Markets represents a great opportunity for farmers interested in mastering the art of craft distilling (or partnering with someone who already has the moonshining know-how).

Do you have a legal question related to your farm, food, or beverage business that you would like to see answered in a future Farmshed CNY blog post?  Submit your question to Devin using the Eat. Drink. Law. Contact Us page here.

About the Author
Devin Morgan is an author, speaker, and attorney with Knull Group (www.eatdrinklaw.com), a firm for food-obsessed business and intellectual property lawyers in Cooperstown, NY.  He is focused on the growth of the craft food and beverage industry in New York State and is the primary author of the Eat. Drink. Law. blog.  Click here to receive a free report from Devin on growing a distinctive food or beverage business.  Knull Group is a big supporter of Farmshed CNY’s quest to map the local food scene across Central New York.  This post is for general information only and is not legal advice.  Attorney Advertising.

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Farmshed CNY’s Spring 2012 IndieGoGo Crowdfunding Campaign is Live!

By Neil B. Miller | March 12th, 2012

Farmshed CNY’s Spring 2012 IndieGoGo Crowdfunding Campaign is live! (Click on the link, and contribute!)

We hope to raise at least $6,000.00 over the next two months, primarily to undertake a summer farmers market tour to promote the Farmshed 2.0 mobile web and web applications (the web app will be released on April 15th). If God is willing and the Subaru keeps running (it hit 283K over the weekend), that’s two farmers markets each week for 25 weeks, from mid May to Mid-November.

We’ve got a lot of great rewards lined up for contributors. Everyone who contributes $10.00 or more will receive a small sample of soil from one of the top organic farms in Central New York: Alambria Springs Farm and Frosty Morning Farm have already donated soil, and Greyrock Farm CSA and Quarry Brook Farm have offered more soil if we need it.

Above that, we’ve got biodynamic, open-pollinated flower and vegetable seeds from Turtle Tree Seed Company; organic oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies mixes from Organically Hip; fruit salsas from our friends at Old Goat Foods; dried Shiitake mushroom powder from Fruit of the Fungi, roasted coffee beans from Cafe Kubal, and that’s just for starters. We’ll be offering more rewards from other local producers as the campaign progresses.

The success of the fundraising campaign depends largely on friends helping to spread the word by sharing the campaign on their social networks. We need your friends to be our friends. So please, give generously, give often, tell your friends, wake the kids, scare the neighbors, dance with the animals, do whatever it takes to get out the word about our IndieGoGo fundraising campaign, and help make this campaign a success. And thanks! We’re deeply, deeply thankful for your contributions!

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Hydrofracking & Agriculture: The Promise and the Reality. A Farm Forum, March 15, Penn Yan, NY

By Neil B. Miller | March 3rd, 2011

Here’s another important announcement about farming and hydrofracking in upstate New York.

Click on the image to enlarge. The PDF of the announcement is available here: flxfarmforum

We seem to be reaching a critical mass of anti-fracking awareness and activism in upstate New York, which is a good thing. My concern is whether this awareness and activism can be focused into a united front capable of generating and sustaining a mass response and resistance to hydrofracking in the region. The gas companies and their lobbyists in Albany and Washington have pooled their financial and human resources, which are considerable, and will make a concerted effort to get hydrofracking authorized with little or no regulation or oversight. Unless all the concerned citizens and local organizations in NYS form a collective, unified opposition to hydrofracking, I’m not sure our voices will provide a sufficient counterweight to the money and influence of the corporate lobbyists.

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2011 CSA Programs in Central New York & the Finger Lakes, Part 1.

By Neil B. Miller | January 23rd, 2011

It’s difficult to imagine in mid-January that Spring is just around the corner, but the days are in fact getting longer, the sun already feels a bit brighter, and farmers have ordered their seeds for 2011 and are thinking about seedlings and tunnels and the season’s first plantings. Supporters of local farming in Central New York, in turn, should to be thinking about whether they are going to participate in a CSA program in 2011, and if so which CSA they are going to join.

To assist everyone in their decisions, Farmshed CNY is publishing a series of articles over the next month or so that will provide up-to-date information on 2011 CSA programs in Central New York and the Finger Lakes, as we obtain information from different farms and update our records. All of the CSA listings in the Farmshed directory (i.e., the iPhone app), will also be updated with this information.

Diane Eggert of Cobblestone Creek Farm, standing in front of a 2010 weekly "Harvest Share" pick-up.

One of most noteworthy aspects of CSA programs in Central New York is the range and diversity of plans and options available to consumers. Some CSAs are small and extremely personal, developing a close relationship between a small grower working a few acres of land and a dozen or so shareholders who pick-up their weekly shares at the farm, and may even need to U-pick or work at the farm. Other CSAs have many 100s of members and deliver throughout the state, even down to New York City.

This diversity shows up as well in what each farm grows, how they grow it, how long their CSA runs, and what they charge for their shares. Certified and non-certified organic, and IPM (Integrated Pest Management) farms; vegetable, fruit and meat producers all offer CSAs, with some programs running just a few weeks, and others running the entire year.

Given this diversity, it pays to do a bit of research, and to find a CSA that best suits your needs and budget. And keep in mind, many CSA members renew their shares year-after-year, so that the most popular CSAs – even the largest ones – may already be full before the season begins, or may only be able to take on a few new members.

When it comes to selecting a CSA, the sooner you decide which program is right for you, the sooner both you and the farmer benefit: you gain the satisfaction of knowing that you are getting the product you want, grown the way you want, from a farmer you know and trust, while the farmer gains the security of knowing that much of his or her produce is bought and paid for before they even plant the first seedling. Folks who wait until March or April to select a CSA program will almost certainly find that many, perhaps most of the CSAs they were considering are sold out for the season. And if  you think Spring feels a long way off, imagine being put on a waiting list till 2012. You snooze, you lose out on some great locally grown produce.

I hope everyone will consider joining a CSA in 2011. The benefits to you, your family, local farmers and the local economy are well documented, and the risks are minimal. CSAs bring us closer to the people who grow our food, to the land itself, and to each other.

I also hope this list of 2011 CSA programs is helpful in deciding which program is right for you and your family. And remember, if you have questions, contact the farmer! They should be glad to hear from you and answer your questions.

1. AJ Greenleaf
208 Genesee St, Cayuga, NY 13034

Certified Organic and Non-Treated Vegetables
Abbott Greenleaf
Website: http://www.localharvest.org/aj-greenleaf-M33869
Tel. 315-253-7512

AJ Greenleaf is offering 20 CSA shares in 2011. Their CSA program runs 20 weeks beginning the 4th week of May and costs $340. They also offer an Extended Harvest share that runs 24 weeks and costs $360.00, which must be purchased before March 1; and a Camp Special share from Memorial Day to Labor Day that costs $260.00. No work is required at the farm. Weekly pickup is at the farm.

2. Alambria Springs Farm
834 Musician Rd, Earlville, NY 13332

Organic and Biodynamically Grown Vegetables and Herbs
NOFA-NY Farmers Pledge Farm
Amy Yahna & Brian Musician
Website: http://www.alambriafarm.com/blog/
Tel: 315-837-4769
Email: womandance@frontiernet.net

Alambria Springs Farm is offering 80 CSA shares in 2011. Their CSA program runs approximately 24 weeks, from the first weekend of June through November. They offer a number of different CSA share and pickup/delivery options:

Full Family Share: A full bushel basket of produce weekly – $640.00
Split Share: A full bushel basket split with your partner – $320.00 each
Couples Share: Three quarters of a bushel of produce weekly – $515.00

Pick-up and Delivery Options:
Mix & Match Pick-up at the Farm, Saturday or Tuesday

Pre-packed Box Delivery in Hamilton, Tuesday afternoon/evening; The Copper Turret in Morrisville, Thursday 3-7pm; Norwich, Saturday 5-8:30pm.  Delivery charges may apply. For details and additional information please visit their website.

3. Ambrosia Farms
Box 463, Bridgewater, NY 13313

Naturally grown vegetables and greens
Nina and Gene DeBar
Website: http://www.natlnutrients.blogspot.com/
Tel: 800-221-9755
Email: ambrosiafarmsny@yahoo.com

Ambrosia Farms Multi-Farm CSA offers 20 weeks of fresh vegetables for $195.00. Shareholders select or “UPick” their own weekly share of fresh vegetables and fruit as they are seasonally available. Poultry, ducks, eggs, baked goods and products from neighboring farms are also available for additional purchase.

4. Bella Farms
Lafayette, NY 13084

Organic vegetables
Cameron Terzini
Website: http://www.bellafarmsny.com
Tel: 315-552-4650
Email: cameron@bellafarmsny.com

Bella Farms is a new farm, and is offering 40 CSA shares in 2011. Their CSA program runs for 20 weeks and costs $495.00, which is payable in three installments of $165.00 each. Weekly shares can be picked up at the farm, at the Syracuse Regional Market, or home delivery can be arranged. Shareholders register on-line on the Bella Farms website.

5. CSA CNY/Grindstone Farm
780 County Route 28, Tinker Tavern Road, Pulaski, NY 13142

Certified Organic Fruits and Vegetables
Website: http://www.grindstonefarm.com/Go.aspx/CSA
Tel: 315-298 4139
Email: customerservice@grindstonefarm.com

Grindstone Farm, one of Central New York’s flagship organic farms, offers one of the largest and most diverse CSA programs in the region, with a broad range of share options for different needs and budgets:

Early Bird Spring Share: $165 (5 weeks, May 12-June 9)
Full Season Share: $565 (20 weeks, June 14-Oct 27, 5% discount if ordered by April 18)
Academic Share: $250 (8 weeks, Sept 6-Oct 27)
Winter Season Share: $250 (8 weeks, Nov 3-Dec 22)
Working Share: $565, ($415 after reimbursement; 20 weeks, June 15-Oct 28)

Additional Specialty Shares:
Egg Share: $60 (20 weeks, June 14-Oct 27)
Flower Share: $80 (10 weeks, Aug 11-Oct 13)

For more information on share options, terms and delivery location, please visit their website.

6. Cobblestone Creek Farm
7350 Collamer Rd., E. Syracuse, NY 13057

Vegetables
Steve & Diane Eggert
Website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/E-Syracuse-NY/Cobblestone-Creek-Farm/433783315105
Email: cobblestonecreekfarm@gmail.com

Cobblestone Creek Farm offers a 24-week CSA “Harvest Share” program that begins June 14 and continues to Thanksgiving. A Full Share feeds a family of four and costs $600; a Half Share feeds two adults and costs $300.  Shares are picked up at the farm Tuesday afternoons, and additional produce is available for purchase at pick-up.

7. Common Thread Community Farm
3424 Lake Moraine Rd, Madison, NY 13402

Organic Vegetables
NOFA-NY Farmers Pledge Farm
Chris Babis & Amy Brown
Website: http://www.commonthreadcsa.com
Tel: 315-893-7767
Email: info@commonthreadcsa.com

Common Thread Community Farm offers CSA shares from June to mid-November, with two delivery options: a Local Share for $495.00, which members pick up on the farm, and mix-and-match from each week’s seasonal produce; and a Delivered Box Share for $525.00. Deliveries are made to Syracuse, Fayetteville, Manlius, Cazenovia and Clinton. The farm shop also offers for sale locally produced food and personal care products.

8. Daring Drake Farm
7726 Rock River Rd, Interlaken, NY 14847

Organic Fruit
NOFA-NY Farmers Pledge Farm
John Reynolds and Shannon O’Connor
Website: http://www.daringdrake.com/
Tel: 607-532-4956
daringdrake@zoom-dsl.com

UPDATE 1/24: Daring Drake Farm’s 2011 Fruit CSA is already sold out for the season. They are taking names for their 2012 waiting list.

Daring Drake Farm operates a 30–share fruit CSA in the Ithaca/Finger Lakes region, which typically sells out every year. As of right now, they still have shares available for 2011. Their CSA program runs 20 weeks, from mid-to-late June to early November.  The cost is $270.00 with a $50.00 non-refundable deposit required to secure a share. Weekly pickups are Friday at the farm, and Tuesday and Saturday at the Ithaca Farmers Market. Duck eggs, jams and jellies, and other farm products, including their new Blackduck hard cider are also available for purchase.

9. Early Morning Farm
9658 State Route 90, Genoa, NY, 13071

Organic Vegetables
NOFA-NY Certified Organic Farm
Anton Burkett
Website: http://www.earlymorningfarm.com
Tel: 315-364-6941
Email: info@earlymorningfarm.com

Early Morning Farm offers a 23-week CSA share program, beginning the first week of June and ending the first week of November. Shares are priced by the number of adults in the household: Two Adults, $506; One Adult is $391, and each additional adult is $115.  There is a 2% discount for full payment.

The farm offers a “free choice” style pick-up at the Ithaca Farmers Market and at the Montessori School of the Finger Lakes located between Auburn and Skaneateles.  Each week a few items are limited, but other than the limits members choose what they need for their household for the week.  They also offer a pre-boxed share delivered to pick-up locations in Aurora, Lansing, Ithaca and the farm.  Sign-up for a CSA on their website.

10. Ever Green Farm.
5942 Old Lake Rd, Rock Stream, NY 14878

Organic Vegetables
NOFA-NY Certified Organic Farm
Joe & Joely Zerbey
Website: http://www.evergreenfarmonline.com
Tel: 607-243-3613
Email: info@evergreenfarmonline.com

Ever Green Farm’s CSA Program runs 21 weeks from June to October. 30 Full Shares of organic vegetables are available for $425.00; Half Shares for $225.00; and a Fall Student Share (September & October) for $160.00. They also offer an Egg Share for $73.00, which adds one dozen eggs to an existing share, and a Chicken Share of 12 chickens per season for $220.00.

Pickups are at the farm on Sunday and Monday; the Geneva Farmers Market on Thursday, and the Ithaca Farmers Market on Sunday. There is no work requirement. For more information or to download a membership application, please visit their website.

11. Greyrock Farm CSA
6100 East Lake Rd., Cazenovia, NY 13035

Organic vegetables, raw milk, eggs and pasture-raised beef, pork, lamb and chicken

Matt Volz
Website: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/pages/Greyrock-Farm-CSA/159941280717659
Tel: 484-888-6254
Email: mcvolz10@gmail.com

Greyrock Farm CSA is a new year-round, 52-week CSA that will begin in June 2011. In addition to offering seasonal, organically farmed vegetables and winter/storage crops, the farm will provide organic-feed eggs, raw milk, and grass fed, pastured beef, lamb, pork and chicken. For 2011, Greyrock Farm CSA will offer 30 adult shares, and an unspecified number of children’s shares.

2011 CSA share prices are as follows:
Individual: $3,000.00 for the year, or roughly $58.00 per week.
Couples: $5,800.00 for the year ($2,900 per individual), or roughly $110.00 per week.
Families: $2,800 per adult. Children under 3 years old are free. Children age 4 are $100.00 per child; ages 5 and above are an additional $100.00 per child for each year over age 4 (age 5 is $200.00; age 6 is $300.00, etc.)

The payment schedule for the 2011 CSA program is as follows:
$500.00 due at the time of sign-up
March, 2011: 40% due on outstanding balance
June, 2011: 20% payment due
September, 2011: 20% payment due
December, 2011: 20% payment due

Members pick up their shares every Friday at the farm. A share is not a specific size or choice between certain products. Instead, each member’s share is the amount of food that member thinks he or she can eat in a week. Each member chooses what to take and what not to take. Everything produced on the farm that week is made available to the members

12. High Point Farms
9448 State Route 96, Trumansburg, NY  14886

Natural Beef, Pork & Chicken
Tina and Robert MacCheyne
Website: http://www.highpointfarms.net
Tel: 607-387-4950
Email: tina@highpointfarms.net

High Point Farms is a year-round meat CSA. CSA shares include grass-feed beef, pastured pork, and free-range chicken. High Point Farms offers two six-month CSA seasons: December to May, and June to November.  A Family Share costs $540.00 and consists of 12-13 pounds of meat, a dozen eggs and a half-pound of local cheese once a month; a Basic Share costs $330.00 and consists of 6-7 pounds of meat, one dozen eggs and 1 (8oz) pack of cheese once a month.

Pick-ups are monthly at the farm, and in Ithaca, Rochester and the New York City area.. For additional information on share sizes, and general information about a meat CSA, please visit their website.

13. Ithaca Organics
85 Simms Hill Rd., Dryden, NY 13053

Organic Vegetables
Trever and Monica Sherman
Website: http://www.ithacaorganics.com
Tel: 607-844-3435
Email: IthacaOrganics@aol.com

Ithaca Organics’ CSA program runs from June to November. They offer a Large Share for $500.00 that provides enough fresh produce for a family or household of four; and a Small Share for $375.00 for a two-person household. Pickup is at the farm on Thursday or the Ithaca Farmers Market on Sunday. Home delivery is also available for a $7.00 fee.

14. Karin’s Organic Produce
2466 Bernice Blvd., Binghamton, NY 13903

Organic Vegetables.
Karin Fuehrer
Website: http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M29400
Tel: 607-772-0976

Karin’s Organic Produce CSA offers Full and Half Shares from May through September. A Full Share costs $25.00/week, and a Half Share costs $15.00/week. There is a 10-week minimum. Weekly shares are picked up on Friday at the farm or can be delivered. No work is required.

15. Kestrel Perch Berries
220 Rachel Carson Way, Ithaca, NY 14850

U-Pick Fruit
Katie Creeger
Website: http://www.ithacaberries.com
Tel: 607-275-0272
Email: ithacaberries@gmail.com

Kestrel Perch Berries’ 2011 CSA includes strawberries, summer red raspberries, black raspberries, black and red currants and (possibly) gooseberries. The program runs from June through July.  200 CSA shares are available costing $100.00 a share for non-working members. A 3 hour-per-season work commitment is strongly encouraged and receives a $25.00 member discount.  Members pick their own fruit at the farm on Tuesday/Wednesday or Friday/Saturday. Call or email Katie Creeger for additional information.

16. Lamb’s Quarters Organic Farm
213 Pierce Rd, Plymouth, NY 13832

Organic vegetables
NOFA-NY Farmers Pledge Farm
Drew Piaschyk & Sandy Pierce
Website: http://lambsquartersorganicfarm.com
Tel: 607-334-3481
Email: lambsqfarm@frontiernet.net

Lamb’s Quarters Organic Farm does not offer a standard CSA program. Instead, shares are tailored to the needs of individual customers. They grow certain vegetables under contract to individual shareholders. Pricing depends on what produce is desired, in what quantity, and on the level of involvement shareholders wish to have in the process. The farm offers free delivery between Plymouth and Norwich.

17. Linda’s Crispy Fresh Garden CSA
47 Hamilton Road, Brooktondale, NY 14817

Vegetables
Linda Crispell
Website: http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M27501
Tel: 607-539-6646

Linda’s Crispy Fresh Garden CSA is offering 25 shares for their 2011 CSA program. The CSA runs approximately 20 weeks from mid-June through October. A Full Share costs $500.00 and provides enough produce for a family of four; a Half Share costs $275.00. Members may pick and choose from seasonally available produce. Pickups are at the farm on Tuesday and Friday. Members are welcome to volunteer at the farm, but no work is required.

18. Norwich Meadows Farm
105 Old Stone Road, Norwich, NY 13815

Organic Vegetables
NOFA-NY Certified Organic
Zaid Kurdieh
Website: http://www.norwichmeadowsfarm.com
Tel: 607-336-7598
Email: norwichmeadowsfarm@Yahyoo.com

Norwich Meadows Farm runs CSA programs in Norwich and the greater NYC area, and offers both a Summer and Winter Share Program. The Summer Share runs for 20 – 22 weeks, approximately June 1st to the first or second week in November. The Winter Share runs for approximately 12 weeks, from December to April. The cost of the shares are $300.00 for an Individual and $600.00 for a Family Share. Members wanting more than a Family Share can purchase additional shares at $300.00

There are also Meat, Chicken, Dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt), Egg and Fruit Shares available. These shares are additional. For additional information and pickup information in Norwich, please contact the farm.

19. Old Path Farm
9035 Grange Hill Rd, New Hartford, NY 13413

Vegetables
Nancy Grove
Website: http://www.localharvest.org/old-path-farm-M12549
Tel: 315-737-8621
Email: vegetables@riseup.net

Old Path Farm is offering 75 CSA shares in 2011. Their CSA runs from June through October. A CSA share costs $500.00 and provides enough produce for 2-4 people.  There are some U-pick items (beans, peas, cherry tomatoes, herbs and flowers). Pickup is at the farm on Monday. Although work is not required, volunteers are welcome.

20. Our Green Acres
3965 Waverly Road, Owego, NY 13827

Vegetables
Website: http://www.ourgreenacres.com
TeL; 607-687-2874
Email: frankwiles@aol.com

Our Green Acres offers a Farmstand CSA that runs from May to October. CSA members buy a share, which entitles them to select seasonal produce at the farmstand, and U-pick some vegetables for free at the farm. A $125.00 share entitles a member to $135.00 worth of produce; a $250 share entitles a member to $280.00 worth of produce. Mid-season renewal rates are $125.00 for $135.00 worth of produce, and $200.00 for $220.00 worth of produce. A member’s account is debited when they select produce. Members can select their weekly share either at the farmstand, or at the Owego and Vestal Farmers Markets.

Our Green Acres also offers year-end specials for CSA members. In the fall, surplus crops such as grape tomatoes, regular tomatoes, potatoes, winter squash, etc., will be discounted to CSA members for 50% off.

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The Westmoreland Winter Farmers Market: The Smiles Say It All.

By Neil B. Miller | January 12th, 2011

Joe and Fran Guerino of Health Now For You, of Yorkville, NY, who specialize in wheat-, gluten-, dairy-, soy- and nut-free prepared foods

I had intended to write a long and thoughtful essay on my visit to the Westmoreland Winter Farmers Market this past Saturday, but the more I tried and failed to say what was on my mind, the more I realized that the smiles in the photos I took at the market say all that needs to be said.

Suzie Jones and daughter of Jones Family Farm in Herkimer, NY. Their farmstead cream cheese and feta were amazing.

Renate Nollen of Dutch Girl Cheese, in Leonardsville, NY.

The larger point I wanted to make is that the economic benefits of the Buy Local movement – the significant increase in income enjoyed by farmers who sell their fresh and added-value products directly to consumers; the health and environmental benefits of purchasing wholesome foods produced within a few miles of one’s home; and the economic security that comes from keeping dollars circulating within the community – tell only half the story.

Jordan Winters of Winters Grass Farm of Holland Patent, NY.

Shannon Nichols of Heamour Farm of Madison, NY, one of the pioneers of New York State’s boutique dairy movement.

All these economic benefits are well and good, as is the fact that attendance at farmers markets is up, while profits at Monsanto were down, dramatically, in 2010. But as the photos of the Westmoreland Winter Farmers Market suggest, the market is about more than just supporting local farmers, or taking home wholesome, locally produced foods, or strengthening the local economy.

For producers as well as consumers, the market also satisfies a longing for community. To believe otherwise, to ignore the deeper rationale behind all these smiles, is to miss or dismiss something important and unquantifiable by any simple economic calculus: the return of a long ignored and unfulfilled need for social communion, and for a meaningful connection with one’s friends and neighbors.

Bob Sleys and his daughter, of the Rosemont Inn B&B in Utica.

Jim Manning of Ferris Farm, Remsen, NY, whose killer lamb sausage was definitely worth smiling about.

For the moment, that’s all I have to say on the subject. I may have more to add at a later date, but for now I want to let the photos speak for themselves.

Nice turnout.

Denise and Bernie Szarek of Szarek Farms of Clinton, NY, organizers of the Westmoreland Winter Farmers Market.

The Westmoreland Winter Farmers Market was organized this past summer by Denise and Bernie Szarek, owners of Szarek Farms and Old Goat Salsa of Clinton, NY. One of a number of new producer-only winters farmers markets in Central New York, the Westmoreland market opened for business this past November and is unique in the area for having paired up with LocallyGrown.net, a website that allows consumers to place orders on-line and pick up their orders the day of the market.

The Westmoreland Winter Farmers Market meets the first Saturday of the month from 9:00 to 12:00 AM in the Westmoreland Firehouse, Station Road, Westmoreland, New York. The Market meets next on February 4th, March  5th, and April 2nd. Plans are also in the works for a seasonal Westmoreland Farmers Market.

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The Butternut Valley Summer Harvest Festival, August 12, 2010, Morris, NY.

By Neil B. Miller | August 15th, 2010

This past Thursday, August 12, the Butternut Valley Alliance held their 2nd annual Summer Harvest Festival at Guy Rathburn Park in Morris, NY.  I was new to the BVA, their Summer Harvest Festival, and the Morris Farmers Market, which coincided with the festival, but I had been contacted earlier in the week by Beth Child, who helped organize the event, and who invited Farmshed to participate.

Ed Lentz of the Butternut Valley Alliance (right) with friends.

Morris, NY is a pretty little town with some lovely old houses and buildings, and an impressively large antique shop in the center of town that unfortunately was closed on Thursday.  BVA members Bob Eklund, Carla Hall and Ed Lentz were on hand to help everyone set up, and by 3:00 PM, the festival and the farmers market were in full swing.  Several groups of local musicians performed; there was face painting, 4H animals, and balloon sculptures for the children; and fly fishing lures, a display of local historical photos and documents, and booths on local conservation and agricultural development manned by Erik A. Miller, Executive Director of the Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA), and Chris Harmon, Executive Director of the Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship Inc. (CADE) for the adults.  Along with Otsego 2000, OCCA and CADE were also co-sponsors of the festival.

It rained for much of the afternoon, but folks stuck around and the bands played on.

Cassandra Stanton of Chobani Yogurt and an associate gave away 100s of free samples.

Local food producers served up some delicious free food. Chobani gave away samples of their Greek yogurts; The Empire House; a restaurant in Gilbertsville that sources local, organic produce from neighboring farms, served up samples of their Mediterranean fare, and Purdy & Sons, a Sherburne institution, provided platters of their extraordinary natural smoked ham and Italian sausage.

Paul and Julie Koch of Earth's Harvest Farm offered some beautiful produce.

Ilyssa Berg of Painted Goat Farm, one of the growing number of world-class cheesemakers in Central New York.

The Morris Farmers Market is a well managed, well attended affair housed under the park pavillon, which was fortunate for everyone given the persistent rain.  Several local farmers offered some outstanding produce and food products, including Hare and Feather Farm in Laurens, NY, which raises chickens, ducks and rabbits; Acrospire Farm in Burlington Flats, NY which grows “eco-logical” fruits and vegetables; and my personal favorites: Earth’s Harvest Farm from Morris, NY which displayed a full table of freshly harvested vegetables, and Painted Goat Farm in Garrattsville, NY, which by any standard is one of the top cheesemakers in Central New York.

The dedicated individuals who organized the Butternut Valley Alliance and the Summer Harvest Festival, along with the festival’s co-sponsoring organizations, have created a model of support for local farming in Central New York.  The Morris Farmers Market, in turn, which is managed by Paul Koch of Earth’s Harvest Farm, offers consumers as high quality a selection of local produce and food products as any farmers market I’ve yet visited in Central New York.

The Morris Farmers Market meets Thursday afternoons from 3:00 to 6:00 PM in Guy Rathburn Park, Morris, NY between now and October 7th.  In addition, the BVA has tentatively scheduled an Open House/Locally Grown Food Event for sometime in the Fall at The Empire House in Gilbertsville.  Please check back with the BVA website for further details. 

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Butternut Valley Summer Harvest Festival, Morris, NY, August 12, 3:00-6:30 PM

By Neil B. Miller | August 10th, 2010

The following is a reprint of the Butternut Valley Alliance’s press release for the Summer Harvest Festival:

Building on last year’s successful debut, the Butternut Valley Alliance is gearing up for its second annual Summer Harvest Festival, to be held on Aug. 12, in Guy Rathbun Park, Morris, from 3 to 6:30 p.m.  There is no admission charge.

According to participating farmers, 2010 is so far an excellent year for vegetables, and together with a full entertainment lineup and other offerings, there is much reason for anticipating that this year’s festival will be another great success.

The farmers’ market, which the festival promotes, normally features upwards of ten vendors, hailing from as near by as Morris and as far away as South Brookfield in Madison County, and offers fresh produce, baked goods, plants, cheeses, meat and poultry.

Paul Koch, president of the MFM board of directors, owns Earth’s Harvest Farm in Morris, where he grows vegetables, raises pigs, and makes honey.

“I was surprised at how many people came to last year’s festival,” he said.  “Everybody’s looking forward to it again this year.”

Denise Timms, who sells herbal vinegars, poultry and eggs “hot off the nest” from Coyote Creek Turkeys and Broilers in South Brookfield, shared Koch’s enthusiasm.

“It opened people’s eyes to the fact that we existed.  It was very festive!” she said.

Besides locally grown vegetables, meat and dairy products, other items will also be offered, including maple syrup products (Brian Ryther of New Lisbon), hypertufa pots and decorative garden stones (Peg Dunbar of Wintergreen Gardens), and varieties of artisanal goat cheese from (Ilyssa Berg, Painted Goat Farm, Garratsville).

Live music entertainment will include The Ernst Family String Band; Jacob Morris Friedman (piano); “Expectations” with Lisa Sorensen Stahl, Jim Sorensen, and Stan Rabbiner; Ken Held (formerly of Fetish Lane); and a string band with Darin Trass on fiddle, Randy Miritello on guitar, and Will Lunn on mandolin.

Activities for children will include face-painting, a clown, and balloon sculptures by “Mike the Juggler.”   “The Scoop” of Morris will also provide free ice cream for kids.

BVA volunteers, Jennifer Brickley, Lynne Ohl and Jeri Wachter, will prepare free food samples from local farms with cooperation from the Empire House, a Gilbertsville restaurant.
Elected officials, including Assemblymen Peter Lopez and Bill Magee, as well as Congressman Michael Arcuri, will also be in attendance.

Local 4H club members will exhibit several breeds of prize-winning farm animals.  Other exhibits will be set up by the Butternut Valley Spinners, the Morris Historical Society, the Town of New Lisbon, the Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA), and the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE).

“One of the goals of the BVA is to promote the economic viability of our area,” said BVA chair Bob Eklund of New Lisbon.  “We want to emphasize the importance of supporting local agriculture whenever possible and to demonstrate our support of local producers.  There’s nothing better than locally grown,” he said.

Sponsors of the event are Otsego 2000, OCCA, CADE, and the Otsego Land Trust.

The overall mission of the Butternut Valley Alliance is to encourage the preservation and protection of the environmental qualities, farming and cultural heritage, economic viability, open space and village charms of the entire watershed.

For further information, please contact Bob Eklund, BVA Chairman at eklund66@hotmail.com

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CNY Foodtripping: Canandaigua Farmers Market

By Neil B. Miller | August 8th, 2010

Farmshed CNY hit the road early Saturday morning to visit old friends and make some new friends at the Canandaigua Farmers Market.  The weather was postcard perfect, which caused me a bit of unease as I drove through the Finger Lakes.  This summer’s record-breaking heat waves and the devastating floods and fires in Pakistan, China and Russia remind us that buying local is not just about strengthening local economies; it is also about combating climate change.  I do a lot of driving to promote Farmshed, and even though I own a 1995 Subaru Legacy with 253,000 miles (god, I love that car), I need to research ways to offset the carbon footprint of my travels.

The Canandaigua Farmers Market is a comparatively modest affair, with about 25 vendors housed in the Mill Street Pavilion.  Several of the best independent farmers in the Finger Lakes attend the market, however, and it is well supported by local consumers.

I first touched base with Jonathan and Caroline Boutard Hunt of Hunt Country Vineyards, located on Keuka Lake, who produce some of my favorite Finger Lakes wines.  Caroline has a background in organic farming, and she and Jonathan grow a variety of organic produce under the name Italy Hill Produce.  On Saturday they had some gorgeous baby summer squash and squash blossoms for sale, in addition to a selection of Hunt Country wines.

Some other notable farms at the Canandaigua Farmers Market include Bedient Farms Natural Beef which raises pasture-raised beef (although some beeves are finished on grain); Clearview Farm, Hidden Rock Farms, which sells pasture-raised lamb and poultry in addition to fresh vegetables; Watt Farms Country Market and Williams Farm, which grow fruits and vegetables (the Watt Farms’ peaches and plums looked fabulous); Riedman’s Happy Hives, and several other farms I forgot to write down (see the Farmshed listing for the Canandaigua Farmers Market, or the Canandaigua Farmers Market website for a more complete list).

A surprising number of vendors offered value-added products for sale, a positive sign that farmers increasingly are turning their agricultural products into unique prepared foods and personal care products.  Nordic Farms displayed a remarkable selection of homemade jams and jellies, including a garlic jam and hot jams made with habañero peppers.  Sacheli’s Franjo Farm, which specializes in onions, offered in addition to their onion jellies a range of mustards, marinades, BBQ  and pasta sauces.

At the end of the pavillion, Bill Stackpole was positively evangelical about the honeys and honey-based products he and his wife Jill produce at Bloomfield Honey Farm, which in addition to several different varieties of wild and raw honeys included homemade soaps, lip balm and other personal care products.

The most unusual vendor I came across, however, was The Dalai Java, a Canandaigua business owned by Scott and Andrea Taylor, a husband-and-wife team who blend Chinese medicinal herbs into small batch, fair trade, organic coffees roasted in their backyard “Java Yurt,” which really is a yurt.  Andrea is a board-certified acupuncturist and herbalist, and Scott is a licensed massage therapist and passionate coffee roaster, and together they have combined their talents and  interests in one of the most unique small businesses I have come across in Central New York.

I sampled several of The Dalai Java’s “mindfully roasted, herb enlightened” coffees, and although I couldn’t taste the Chinese herbs – Scott told me I wouldn’t taste them – the Peruvian, Sumatran, and Ethiopian coffees were very good dark roasts with good balance and lots of flavor.  Based on a couple of small samples, I can’t speak for or against the efficacy of these speciality coffees, but Scott and Andrea have developed a unique line of locally produced, reasonably priced coffees that may be as good for your physical and spiritual well-being as they are for your morning caffeine fix.

After the market ended, there were more special events in the area than time permitted me to enjoy.  Canandaigua held a downtown wine walk in the afternoon, which I didn’t stay around for; the Sauerkraut Festival in Phelps, NY celebrated its 44th year, while the 18th annual Garlic Festival at Fox Run Vineyards overflowed with devotees of the stinking rose; and the Anthony Road Winery held their 20th Anniversary celebration.  Overall, it was a great day of foodtripping through Central New York, which I capped off by picking up some fresh apple cider at the Red Jacket Farm Store in Geneva on the way home.

The Canandaigua Farmers Market meets Saturday mornings from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Mill Street Pavillion, 167 Mill Street, off Main Street, from June 5th to October 30, 2010.  For more information, check out the listing for the Canandaigua Farmers Market in Farmshed, or visit the market’s website.

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Welcome to Farmshed

By Neil B. Miller | July 13th, 2010

Hello everyone,

Welcome to Farmshed, a free app for iPhone and iPod Touch users.  Farmshed provides a comprehensive directory of all the organic, sustainable, and direct-market farms in Central New York, from west of Rochester to east of Utica and Cooperstown, south to Oneonta, Ithaca, and the towns located along the southern edge of the Finger Lakes.

In addition to farms, Farmshed’s directory includes all of Central New York’s farmers markets, CSAs and buying clubs, produce stands, orchards, U-Pick/PYO farms, natural food stores and cooperatives, locavore restaurants, artisanal bakeries and cheesemakers, and natural, gourmet, and specialty food producers. Whew, just thinking about all these local food resources makes me hungry.

I’d like to take you on a brief tour of Farmshed, explain its key features, and provide a bit more information about the app.

1. The Splash and Home Screens.

The first thing users see when they launch the app is the Farmshed splash screen, which displays the Farmshed logo and our slogan, “Go Mobile, Buy Local.”

I know, it’s damned sexy, right?

The next screen is the app home screen, which lists the various categories of farms, food producers, and related businesses currently in the directory.  Most of these categories are self explanatory, but it’s worth pointing out that the Farms category lists only direct-market farms, which means farms that sell their products direct to consumers at farmers markets, farms stores or farm stands.  Commercial farms and dairies that wholesale their products to other companies are not listed, and CSAs – short for Community Supported Agriculture, but you already knew that – are listed as a separate category.

All of the restaurants listed in Farmshed are locally owned, locavore establishments that source at least 10% of their ingredients from local farmers and food producers.  We’re debating whether to broaden the Restaurants category to include all locally owned restaurants, and we’d like to know what you think about this.

2. List and Map Views.

The list and map screens take us into the heart of Farmshed.  Each list displays all the businesses in that category that are located in your area (more on Location Settings below).  Right now these lists display alphabetically, but we are already working on an option to display lists by name (A-Z), distance (closer-further away), and town, and will add this feature when it is completed.

Both the list and map screens allow users to view detailed records on individual businesses.  In the list view, selecting a farmers market (or farm, or restaurant, etc.), takes you to the record for that business.  In the map view, tapping on one of the green location pins displays a pop-up banner with the name and address of that farmers market; tapping the green arrow or “chevron” displayed in the banner, in turn, takes you to the record, or detail view, for that market.

3. Detail Views.

For this tour, we selected the Pittsford Farmers Market outside of Rochester as our example.  Each farmers market record lets you know the day and hours that the market meets next, the market’s schedule for the next two weeks, and the distance to the market from your current location.  You can also see what products are available for sale, the local farms (“Vendors”) that sell at the market, and view additional information about and photos of the market.  If the market has a website, you also can link directly to it.

The records for other categories, such as Restaurants, provide telephone numbers and e-mail addresses that you also can link to directly.  All displayed websites, telephone numbers and e-mails are “dynamic,” meaning you can visit a business’s website, call them, or e-mail them simply by tapping the appropriate field.

The green chevron next to the address for the Pittsford Farmers Market takes you to a map view of that specific location.  Directions to the market, or to any specific location, can be obtained by tapping the car icon in the pop-up banner.

4. Location Settings.

What makes Farmshed more than a directory of neighborhood businesses is the Location Settings feature, which allows users to automatically geo-locate their current location, or to manually select and display information for other locations.

The Location Settings feature is intuitive and easy to use.  With Automatic location turned ON, Farmshed geolocates a user’s current location and downloads data for that location.  When Automatic location is turned OFF, a keyboard rolls out so that a user can manually enter a new location, which can be a complete address, or as little as a city/state or zip code.

The other key feature in Location Settings is the Search Radius (it’s called Search Range in the screenshot, but we renamed it), which provides user with a sliding scale for setting the radius of a location search.  The narrowest setting of a 5 mile radius – a 10 mile diameter centered on a user’s location – allows users to search for producers, retailers and restaurants in their immediate location.  The maximum radius of 50 miles reflects the growing consensus that the “100 mile diet,” provides a useful benchmark for buying local.  These two simple features – Automatic/Manual location and Search Radius – put all the local food resources in your neighborhood, or anywhere in Central New York, at your fingertips.

5. Share/Social Networking.

The Share feature, which is found in the tab bar at the bottom of the home screen, provides users with a range of social networking options for sharing experiences or information with the Farmshed community.  Right now, these options include posting content to the Farmshed CNY Facebook and Twitter pages, or publishing longer pieces on the Farmshed Nation blog.  The social networking options in version 1.0 are not as robust as we would like.  Much of what we enjoy about buying local is sharing our experiences with others, and we assume that many of you feel this way as well.  So we are already considering how to broaden these options in later versions of the app.  In time, we want users to have full in-app access to their own social networks, as well as the ability to rate businesses and publish reviews, photos, videos and podcasts to their own or Farmshed’s social networks.

I hope this brief tour of Farmshed has been informative, and that you find Farmshed fun and useful.  Please, tell us what you like or dislike about the app, and share your experiences with us and other users.  We live in a region with many wonderful farms, farmers markets, and food producers, but it is not always easy to learn about or locate these businesses.  We hope Farmshed makes it easier to find and enjoy Central New York’s local and regional food resources, and that it becomes a regular companion in your explorations.  Go Mobile, Buy Local!

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