U-Pick Organic Strawberry Party, Cobblestone Valley Farm, Preble, NY, June 30, 2013

By Neil B. Miller | June 23rd, 2013

SFCNY_strawberry party flier_updated

Farmshed Field Day – U-Pick Organic Strawberry Party

Where: Cobblestone Valley Farm, 2023 Preble Rd., Preble, NY 13141

When: Sunday, June 30, 2013, from 11am to 2pm.

Directions: Please see below.

Grab your family and friends, and come join Farmshed CNYCobblestone Valley Farm, and Slow Food CNY, for a U-Pick Organic Strawberry Party, Sunday, June 30th at Cobblestone Valley Farm in Preble, NY.

Paul and Maureen Knapp of Cobblestone Valley Farm are one of the few certified organic strawberry growers in Central New York, and they’ve been kind enough to invite Farmshed CNY, Slow Food CNY, and a bunch of our friends – see the list of participating farms and food producers – to join them to celebrate this year’s berry harvest.

What could be more fun!?!

The party is free and open to all. U-Pick strawberries, grilled hot dogs, sausages, and chicken, prepared foods, and other products will be available for purchase at the event. Strawberries will cost $2.70 per pound (about $4.00 a quart). Please bring your own containers for picking strawberries.

Hope to see you there! Please DO NOT bring dogs or pets to the event.

To sign up for this event, please visit the Farmshed CNY Facebook event page.

Joining us will be:

Main Street Farms, Homer, aquaponic greens and organic vegetables

Two Spruce Farm, Marathon, organic vegetables

Lime Hollow Naturals, Cortland, natural, handmade personal care and household cleaning products

2 Kids Goat Farm, Cuyler, goat milk cheeses

Sustainable Cortland, Cortland

Dutch Hill Farm, Tully, pastured pork and lamb

Cafe Kubal, Syracuse, small-batch, Fair Trade roasted coffee beans

Alambria Springs Farm, Earlville, whole grain, brick oven baked, farmhouse breads

LoFo, Syracuse, fruit/veggie smoothies, prepared foods

The Sweet Praxis, Syracuse, macaroons, sweets

Critz Farms, Cazenovia, Harvest Moon farmstead cider, maple syrup

Kriemhild Dairy Farm, farmhouse butter

Dog Bites of Cortland, natural dog treats

Directions.

Although the address for the farm house is 2023 Preble Rd., which is just east of the Route 81 overpass – see the Google Map below – the strawberry field where the event will take place is just WEST of the Route 81 overpass. The field is located behind some private homes, with the entrance directly next to the Route 81 South overpass (roughly at 1995 Preble Rd.). Signs will be positioned on Routes 281 and 81, and on Preble Rd., indicating where to turn. When you get to the entrance on Preble Rd., there is a sign marked Cobblestone Valley Farm. Turn north onto the entrance and drive back to the field. Someone will be there to direct you where to park. The event will take place in the long field that runs parallel to the strawberry field, with the vendor area close to the front of the field.

From Syracuse and points North:

South on Interstate 81. Head south on Interstate 81 and take Exit 13 marked Route 281 Preble. Turn right at the intersection and head south approximately one mile Route 281 into Preble. At the Four Corners intersection in Preble turn left onto Preble Road. Immediately before the Route 81 South overpass, turn left at the sign on left marked Cobblestone Valley Farm. Drive down the path into the field, you will see the field house on your left. Someone will be there to show you where to park.

South on Route 11. Alternately, you can take Route 11 south from Nedrow, Lafayette, or Tully. If you come this way, turn right on Preble Road, drive under the Route 81 overpass, and the entrance to the field will be immediately on your right after you pass the Route 81 South overpass.

From Ithaca and points South.

North on Interstate 81. Head north on Interstate 81 and take Exit 13 marked Route 281 Preble. Turn left at the intersection with Route 281 and head south approximately one mile into Preble. At the Four Corners intersection in Preble turn left onto Preble Road. Immediately before the Route 81 South overpass, turn left at the sign on left marked Cobblestone Valley Farm. Drive down the path into the field, you will see the field house on your left. Someone will be there to show you where to park.

From Homer and Cortland.

North on Route 281. Head north on Route 281 into Preble. At the Four Corners intersection in Preble turn right onto Preble Road. Immediately before the Route 81 South overpass, turn left at the sign on left marked Cobblestone Valley Farm. Drive down the path into the field, you will see the field house on your left. Someone will be there to show you where to park.

North on Route 11. Alternately, you can take Route 11 north from Cortland or Homer. If you come this way, turn left on Preble Road, drive under the Route 81 overpass, and the entrance to the field will be immediately on your right after you pass the Route 81 South overpass.

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Notes on the Buy Local Versus Organic Debate

By Neil B. Miller | April 6th, 2013

Author’s Note: My friend Eileen Perkins of Abundance Cooperative Market in Rochester asked me to write up a short document she could share with co-workers on the debate over buying local versus organic products. This is an important and open-ended conversation, because both sides of the argument have merit. As a social entrepreneur committed to strengthening the connection between food producers, small business owners, and consumers in upstate New York, however, I believe the social and economic benefits and multiplier effects of buying local outweigh the personal and environmental benefits of simply buying organic. What follows is a short position paper, with a far-from-complete bibliography of recommended websites listed at the end.

Friday farm market at Greyrock Farm CSA, Cazenovia, NY

Friday farm market at Greyrock Farm CSA, Cazenovia, NY

Notes on the Buy Local versus Organic Debate.

Almost everyone agrees that buying locally grown and certified organic produce whenever this possible is the best option for consumers. The debate over whether buying locally grown produce from a non-certified grower is preferable to buying certified organic produce has emerged in the past few years because:

1. A growing number of small farmers believe the “organic” brand has been co-opted by large industrial agribusinesses, and the original meaning of the term has been watered down to the point where it is no longer an assurance of quality or of sustainable farming practices.

2. Increased awareness of the “carbon footprint” of the foods we eat, including fresh and organically certified produce, has raised the question of whether organic product that is grown in California, Mexico, or China – all of which are now major producers of certified organic produce for the American market – is sustainable, in the sense that the distances the product has had to travel, the costs in gas and hydrocarbons involved in transporting the product, and the environmental cost associated with this transport, offset the positive aspects of how that product was grown.

There is, admittedly, something incongruous about a product – let’s say certified organic garlic – being grown without the use of synthetic herbicides or pesticides by a farmer in Mexico, which is where most organic garlic available in the U.S. comes from over the winter, being loaded on to pallets, trucked to a warehouse, loaded on to tractor trailers, transported from Mexico to distribution centers across the U.S., repacked, reloaded, and re-transported to regional food distributors, and then finally delivered to a retail market. In this scenario, the “carbon footprint” for the imported organic product is quite possibly many times higher than the local, sustainably grown, but non-certified organic product.

There are other issues to consider, as well. First, many local farmers see themselves as “beyond organic,” meaning they employ growing methods that are not only organic, in terms of not using any synthetic inputs or chemical fertilizers, but believe they go well beyond the USDA legal definition of “organic,” in terms of their understanding and cultivation of soil rich in nutrients and microfauna, or their employment of biodynamic and/or permaculture principles for maintaining the health of their farmland.

The Buy Local movement, in the meantime, has documented the significant economic benefits that result when consumers shift their purchasing dollars away from Big Box retailers and national brands (including organic national brands), to local producers. When a dollar is spent on a nationally branded or distributed product, less than 10% of the money spent on that purchase remains in the community, whereas 70% or more remains in and continues to circulate within the region when a consumer buys a local product.

There are other economic benefits as well. The only way that certified organic products grown in California, Mexico, or China can remain affordable in upstate New York is because the workers who grow, pick, and pack the product are paid extremely low wages, and because the cost of gas and other fossil fuels is subsidized by tax breaks for oil companies. That is, certified organic products from these regions are artificially cheap, because consumers don’t pay, and aren’t aware, of the true cost of the products – the poor living conditions of migrant workers in California, the low wages paid to farmer workers in Mexico and China, or the hidden environmental cost of transporting product 1000s of miles to market.

In contrast, products grown locally, which are very often grown organically even if they are not certified organic, allow consumers and retail buyers to pay growers directly for their products, which means the farmer gets most of the money, not the wholesale distributors or middle men. And even when a wholesale distributor is involved, the shorter distances involved in transporting product, as well as the face-to-face relationship between the grower and distributor, ensure that growers receive a fair price for their products. Since these growers are neighbors, who in turn shop and spend money within our communities, this means that farmers earn more money for their hard work, and in turn have more money to spend in the local economy. There are, consequently, all sorts of positive multiplier effects that follow from buying locally, that are lost when the sole concern is to buy certified organic product.

For these reasons, Farmshed CNY’s official position is that whenever possible, it is better to buy local, even if the product being purchased isn’t certified organic. Buying local allows consumers and retail buyers to ask farmers about their growing practices, and to learn whether sustainable farming methods are employed. If the answer is no, there is almost certainly another grower in the same area who is employing sustainable farming practices, regardless of whether or not he or she is certified organic.

Here are some recommended articles to read further on the topic of local versus organic:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1595245,00.html

http://www.treehugger.com/culture/theres-no-such-thing-as-local-vs-organic-food.html

https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=281

http://www.gracelinks.org/254/local-regional-food-systems

http://www.sustain.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=7686

http://sustainableconnections.org/thinklocal/why

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1903632,00.html

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A Fork in the Road: Localism, Sustainability and the Politics of Pleasure

By Neil B. Miller | June 5th, 2012

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this essay appeared in the New York Cork Report.

As the owner of a technology start-up dedicated to promoting local foods, I suppose I should have been offended by the remarks made by chefs Thomas Keller and Adoni Luis Aduriz in their recent New York Times interview with Julia Moskin.  In the interview, which is excerpted in Moskin’s article, Keller and Aduriz, the award-winning executive chefs, respectively, of The French Laundry in Yountville, California and Mugaritz in northern Spain, disclaim any responsibility for supporting local farming or sustainable agriculture. In one passage, Keller questions whether it is his responsibility, given the small number of people he feeds, “to worry about carbon footprint?” In another, Aduriz opines that to align oneself “entirely with the idea of sustainability makes chefs complacent and limited.”

Oddly enough, I found myself only mildly irritated by Keller and Aduriz’s statements. As excerpted in Moskin’s article, Keller and Aduriz come across as mildly glib and dismissive of doctrinaire locavorism, but the everyday praxis of these chefs so closely parallels core values of the local food and sustainability movements – the New York Time­s once named Keller “Napa’s most celebrated devotee of local produce” – that I can only assume the chefs were being intentionally controversial to promote the release of Aduriz’s first English-language cookbook, Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking.

If that was their intent they clearly succeeded, because publication of Moskin’s article set the Twittersphere aflame with a firestorm of histrionic outrage and authoritarian cultural politics. Sadly, despite the fact that Keller and Aduriz’s critics are allies in the local food movement, I believe they got just about everything wrong in their responses to Keller and Aduriz’s comments.

Moskin, whose own article is provocatively titled “For Them, a Great Meal Tops Good Intentions,” set the stage for later rhetorical excesses. Supporting local agriculture, she asserts, is “too narrow a goal” for these highly acclaimed chefs, while helping save the planet is at odds with their priority of creating “great, brilliant food.” Keep in mind that these are Moskin’s words, not Keller or Aduriz’s. Later, Moskin sarcastically concludes that Keller and Aduriz “are united in their belief that their responsibility as chefs is primarily to produce breathtakingly delicious and beautiful food – not as some of their colleagues think, to provide a livelihood for farmers living near their restaurants, to preserve traditional culinary art or to stop the spread of global warming.”

Paula Crossfield, managing editor of Civil Eats, ups this gamesmanship another notch by characterizing Keller and Aduriz as “dinosaurs” in comparison to younger chefs (Aduriz is all of 41), who take a “local, values-driven approach” to their cooking. Keller and Aduriz’s “antiquated remarks,” especially Keller’s commitment to “quality above values” (since when is “quality” not a “value?”), are, in Crossfield’s estimation, “staler than the day-old bread at Bouchon Bakery,” one of Keller’s other establishments

Elsewhere, Twilight Greenaway, writing for Grist.org, describes Keller and Aduriz as chefs who feel no “obligation to the environment,” and who “opt out of caring for the impact the producers of your food have on the soil, water and the atmosphere.” In quick succession, Greenway then goes on to characterize their statements as “irresponsible,” “destructive,” and – quoting Laurie David, the producer of An Inconvenient Truth – “shocking.”

The litany of crimes for which these chefs have been charged continues on for many more articles and tweets – one writer even compares Keller to Marie Antoinette! – but you get the idea. These are bad, bad men, whose actions and attitudes are apparently as morally indefensible and environmentally destructive as those of Monsanto, the Koch Brothers, and supporters of the XL Pipeline.

And yet, if we set aside the statements quoted in Moskin’s article, and examine what these chefs actually do in their daily practice: how and from where they source their products; how and why suppliers of the world’s finest and occasionally rarest foodstuffs must be concerned with responsible stewardship and sustainability; why – unlike nearly all commercial food products – the true cost of these products, including the cost of their carbon footprint, is very likely passed on to patrons, a very different picture emerges of who these men are and what they truly believe.

The French Laundry’s Culinary Garden, for example, a three-acre farm that provides the restaurant with most of their specialty crops – including all the products featured in their daily vegetable tasting menu – is almost as famous as the restaurant itself. It is also fully organic and open to the public, so that Tucker Taylor, the garden’s resident farmer, can educate home gardeners as well as kitchen staff on unusual heirloom varieties and sustainable farming practices like crop rotation and organic composting.

Then there is Keller’s relationship with his outside suppliers, who appear mostly to be small artisanal producers for whom Keller has such high regard that he features them prominently on his website. This ironically also seems to be where Keller earns the greatest scorn from his critics, because several of these suppliers, such as Keith Martin’s Elysian Fields Farm in Waynesburg, PA, which supplies The French Laundry with “holistic” lamb raised without hormones, antibiotics or exposure to pesticides, are out-of-state producers rather than local farms.

For this unpardonable sin, Moskin, as already noted, derides Keller for his “radical” commitment to create “breathtakingly delicious and beautiful food” rather than to provide a livelihood for local farmers. Paula Crossfield, in turn, compares both chefs to Damien Hirst, implying, I assume, that their restaurants, like Hirst’s art, are unapologetically apolitical and sensationalistic. “It’s about the experience,” Crossfield writes, “and whatever it takes to create radical and inspiring food is more important than the potential impact on the environment.” Twilight Greenaway, in turn, simply chides Keller for downplaying “the role of the local food economy your restaurant supports.”

It’s not clear which local food economy Greenaway is referring to. Presumably, she intends Napa Valley, whose economic security apparently hangs in the balance depending on whether or not Keller sources his lamb from a local producer. And yet, the local food economy of Western Pennsylvania, a decidedly less well situated and economically secure region of the country, undoubtedly has benefited from Keller’s patronage, so much so that Martin has enlisted several other farms in Pennsylvania and Ohio to raise lambs according to his exacting methods, and opened a mail-order business to direct-market fresh lamb to consumers.

Similar economic benefits presumably have been felt in the rural community of Orwell, Vermont, where Animal Farm Dairy, an artisanal farmstead creamery that produces butter for Keller’s restaurants, is located, and in Petaluma, California, in Sonoma County, where Soyung Scanlan, the renowned cheesemaker at Andante Dairy, makes cheeses for, and first drew her inspiration from, The French Laundry.

In truth, it appears that the criticisms directed at Keller and Aguriz are premised on an ideologically rigid localism: upscale restaurants like The French Laundry and Mugaritz should source all their ingredients from local producers, not because they are the highest quality, or the freshest or tastiest, but simply because they are local. And leading celebrity chefs like Keller and Aduriz, in particular, should do so to set an example for younger, up-and-coming chefs.

Though not stated explicitly, it’s also implied that ordinary consumers ought also to limit themselves exclusively to what is locally and sustainably grown. That’s a sentiment I largely share, so much so that I founded a business dedicated entirely to promoting local food and connecting consumers with local farmers and food producers. But exclusively so? Many products – some rare and highly prized, others commonplace – are either not produced locally, or not at the quality-level found elsewhere in the world. Does locavorism really mean that the world’s most unique regional foodstuffs should be enjoyed exclusively by local consumers? Would that be good for producers, or consumers, or the environment? Would this be good for Western Pennsylvanian lamb producers, or Finger Lakes winemakers, any more than it would be for Iberian hog farmers or Tuscan olive growers?

In the absence of secondary national or international markets that supplement regional sales, how certain are these critics that local demand will enable artisanal producers to sell through their inventories and earn a decent living? Setting aside luxury items like Jamon Iberico or French wines, what about everyday pantry items like salt and black pepper, or olive oil, or tea, coffee, and chocolate?

There is a cultural politics at work here that I find disturbingly authoritarian. The local food movement, consequently, as well as the movement for agricultural and socioeconomic sustainability, finds itself at a fork in the road. One road leads us in the direction of tolerance, inclusivity and engagement between chefs like Keller and Aduriz, for whom pleasure must remain an operative principle; the Slow Food movement, which shares a similar commitment to the politics and pleasures of the table; and the locavores, environmentalists and sustainability advocates who are transitioning America away from its destructive, dehumanizing, industrial past.

The other road takes us further down the path set ablaze in last week’s “food fight.” If Moskin and other critics truly believe that cordwood should be piled around Keller and Aduriz’s feet because of a few controversial statements, then locavorism and sustainability are in danger of becoming cults rather than secular social movements.

Monty Python once famously warned, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.” That may be, in part, because no one ever sees themselves as the Inquisitor, not even those who would seek to impose a new agro-gastronomical orthodoxy on the rest of us. Demons do exist, but we don’t need witch hunts or holier-than-thou attitudes to fight them. Some of us believe that change begins at one’s own doorstep, and simply want to eat – and enjoy – healthier food, support our local communities, and leave the world a better place than we found it.

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Our IndieGoGo Rewards: Great Products from Great Local Producers

By Neil B. Miller | April 22nd, 2012

We’ve got a month left to go on our IndieGoGo crowd funding campaign, and to generate excitement as we count down to the end of the campaign, we’ve added a bunch of great products donated by local businesses. The IndieGoGo website only allows us to describe individual rewards in 500 characters or less, which is virtually impossible given the number of great products we’ve lined up for contributors, so we’re going to list them all here and explain how and where you can get them.

First, we’re raising this money for a 25-week summer tour of regional farmers markets that hopefully will take us to 50 different farmers markets throughout Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and parts of the Southern Tier and Catskills. Our goal is to promote the Farmshed 2.0 Mobile app, which works on iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerrys, and the release this past week of the new Farmshed 2.0 Web app, which makes the Farmshed CNY Directory of 1,500+ regional farms, farmers markets and food producers available for the first time on PCs, laptops and tablets. False modesty aside, the Farmshed 2.0 Mobile and Web apps are beautifully designed applications with clean, easy-to-use interfaces and lots of powerful features.

The new Farmshed 2.0 Web Homepage.

We need to pay up-front vendor fees, purchase a tent and table, print up displays and marketing materials, cover the cost of gas, food and lodging, and show some TLC to the mighty Subaru, which has 285,000 miles on it and is in need of some serious love. So we’re asking friends, friends of friends, business associates, fellow Buy Local and local food advocates, and anyone else who wants to see independent farms and food producers thrive in this region, to make a small contribution to our IndieGoGo fundraising campaign, which ends on May 19th. Local farmers and food producers have donated some truly fantastic products, and all you have to do to get them is make a small – or large! – contribution.

Click here to go to our IndieGoGo campaign page and make a contribution.

The Rewards

Turtle Tree Seed Co. seed packets - our Natural reward!

1. Natural. $15.00-$24.00. The Natural reward lets contributors select one packet of biodynamic, open pollinated flower or vegetable seeds from Turtle Tree Seed Co. The following seed packets are available (while quantities last):

Diane’s Pink Aster
Petunia Perseverance
Arugula
Lettuce Mix
Ruth’s Perfect Tomato
Landis Tomato

Turtle Tree is a small non-profit company in the Hudson Valley that cultivates, preserves, and sells 100% open-pollinated, biodynamic and organic vegetable, herb and flower seeds. All their seed is non-gmo, non-hybrid, never treated, and grown without the use of chemical inputs. Turtle Tree Seed Co. is part of a Camphill Village in Copake, NY, an intentional community that includes people with developmental disabilites. For more information on the company, or to view their entire product catalog, please visit their website.

JUST ADDED! 2. Super Natural. $25.00-$34.00. Select one seed packet from Turtle Tree Seed Co. (see the Natural reward above), and receive a 1-year subscription to Plank Road Magazine AND an A-List Organics tote bag.

Plank Road Magazine, located in Tully, New York,  is a new quarterly publication that celebrates the beautiful landscapes, history and vibrancy of Central New York, and tells the stories of the remarkable people and small businesses that make this region such a great place to live and work. Steve Simon, the publisher of Plank Road Magazine, and his staff are doing with words and photos what Farmshed CNY is doing with data and technology: connecting Central New Yorkers with their neighbors, and promoting local resources and producers.

3. Free Range. $25.00-49.00. The Free Range reward includes one packet of Turtle Tree seeds (see the Natural reward above), and ONE of the following products donated by a local farm or food producer (while supplies last):

1 package of Organically Hip Oatmeal Raisin or Chocolate Cookie mix

1 1-ounce bottle of Fruit of the Fungi Dried Shiitake Mushroom Powder

1 jar of A-List Organics Hot Pepper Jelly or Fiesta Salsa

1 jar of Old Goat Foods Fruit Salsas – Vinca’s Sweet, Violet’s Medium, or Spike’s Hot

PLUS: an A-List Organics farmers market tote bag.

I can’t say enough good things about these products, or these producers. The Organically Hip cookie mixes are delicious, and are the products of two very entrepreneurial Syracuse friends and moms, Maria & Angela, who started up the business because they wanted their kids to eat healthier snacks.

Fruit of the Fungi is a husband and wife team, KC and Kristi Mangine, who started cultivating Shiitake mushrooms a few years ago and are now selling fresh mushrooms and a range of innovative dried products at regional farmers markets throughout Madison County and the Mohawk Valley. Their Dried Shiitake Mushroom Powder is delicious in scrambled eggs and miso soups, and a little goes a long way, so a 1-ounce bottle will last you a while.

KC Mangine of Fruit of the Fungi, at the Poolville Winter Farmers Market

A-List Organics is a start-up organic farm in Pompey, NY owned by Lori and Abe Tannenbaum. Lori has developed a line of delicious homemade jams, jellies and preserved foods using surplus crops grown on the farm. In addition to the four extraordinary gift baskets she donated to our campaign – 2 savory baskets, and 2 sweet & savory baskets, which are available for $100.00 contributions – Lori also donated a dozen jars of her terrific Hot Pepper Jelly and chunky Fiesta Salsa. She’s also given us a bunch of A-List Organics farmers market tote bags to give away.

Bernie and Denise Szarek are very simply two of my favorite people in the world, as well as two of the hardest working people I know. In addition to holding down day jobs, they own and operate Szarek Greenhouses, Three Goat Farm CSA, Old Goat Foods, which produces several lines of products including their Fruit Salsas, named for their three goats (they’ve got a special love for goats), and have started up and are managing the Westmoreland Winter and Summer Farmers Markets and the Westmoreland Food Swap. I’m probably leaving something out here, but you get the idea.

Bernie and Denise make me glad every time I see them that I founded Farmshed CNY. They represent the best of what I love about the local food movement in Central New York, and their Fruit Salsas kick ass.

Denise & Bernie Szarek of Szarek Greenhouses and Old Goat Foods

4. Grass Fed. $50.00-99.00. The Grass Fed reward includes one packet of Turtle Tree seeds (see the Natural reward above), and TWO of the products listed above in the Free Range reward category (while supplies last)

5. Pasture Raised. $100.00-249.00. The Pasture Raised reward takes our reward program to a whole new level. In addition to a packet of Turtle Tree seeds; TWO of the products listed in the Grass Fed reward category – the Organically Hip cookie mixes, Fruit of the Fungi Dried Shiitake Mushroom Powder; the A-List Organics Hot Pepper Jelly or Fiesta Salsa; the Old Goat Foods Fruit Salsas, and the A-List Organics farmers market tote bag, Pasture Raised contributors also select ONE of the following:

1 12-ounce bag of Cafe Kubal roasted Guatemalan El Injerto coffee beans

1  The Imaginary Farmer Grow-it-Yourself Gourmet Mushroom Kit

Guatemalan El Injerto is widely considered the premier coffee bean grown in Central America, and it’s one of the signature small-batch roasted beans produced by our friends at Cafe Kubal in Syracuse, NY. Syracuse was recently named one of the top cities in the country for locally roasted, artisanal coffee, and in my opinion Cafe Kubal is the best of the best. They also demonstrate that social entrepreneurship and successful business management go hand-in-hand.

Owen Tallman, the Imaginary Farmer, foraging wild mushrooms in Cazenovia, NY.

Owen Tallman, The Imaginary Farmer and a bit of a mad scientist, has developed and cultivates several different species of edible and medicinal mushrooms, including a variety native to Central New York he has named the Hantana Phoenix, which he found growing wild on his farm and coaxed into commercial production. He’s now taken his passion for mushrooms one step further and has come out with Grow-it-Yourself kits that provide everything you need to cultivate mushrooms at home. Kits are available for his signature Hantana Phoenix, Elm Oyster, Golden Enoki and Reishi mushrooms.

6. Certified Organic. $250.00-$499.00. What can we say about our Certified Organic reward? If you are this generous, and can contribute this much money to our IndieGoGo campaign, we are going to hook you up with the mother of all reward packages, featuring the best of the best of EVERYTHING we have available for contributors.

7. Sustainable $500.00-$999.00, and Biodynamic $1,000.00 and up. If a selection of the region’s best local food products isn’t enough for you, how about a personal, one day or weekend guided tour of the best family farms, creameries, food producers, wineries, microbreweries, and/or locavore restaurants in Central New York and the Finger Lakes? That, respectively, is what we are offering for our Sustainable and Biodynamic rewards.

Over the past two years, we’ve gotten to know 100s of the best organic growers, artisanal food producers, cheese makers, winery owners and wine makers, and other businesses in this region, and we would be glad to plan and guide you on a one day or weekend agritourism excursion to show you the best that this region as to offer.

Set up a behind-the-scenes tour and wine tasting at the best wineries in the Finger Lakes? Or a day-trip of the best artisanal and locavore food producers and restaurants in Ithaca or Rochester? Done. How about a personal guided tour of the top creameries and cheese makers in the Mohawk Valley, with tastings right in their creameries of their cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses? We can make that happen, too. In fact, our first agritourism client enjoyed her day-trip of Mohawk Valley cheese makers so much that she’s already contributed $500.00 to our IndieGoGo campaign and can’t wait for her next trip to the region. In her words, “Farmshed CNY tours are the best!” And who are we to argue with a satisfied customer?

At whatever level you contribute, we are deeply, deeply appreciate of your contribution to our IndieGoGo crowd funding campaign. Every dollar gets us one step closer to reaching our funding goal and our plans for a successful summer promotional tour. We’d like to think – in fact, we truly believe – that Farmshed CNY’s success is tied directly to the success of regional farmers and food producers, and that together we will build, and are building, a vibrant, sustainable, and delicious local food culture in Central New York.

Find Local, Buy Local, Grow Local.

 

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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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Photo of the Day: Jon Stadt of Flour City Pasta

By Neil B. Miller | February 4th, 2012

Jon Stadt, of Flour City Pasta, at the CNY Regional Market.

Sometimes a single photo, as the saying goes, is worth a 1000 words. I mean, take a look at this photo. A good look.

The photo says, “This is what genuine pride looks like,” in this case the pride Central New York’s local growers and artisanal food producers take in the products they bring to market.

The photo says, “This is what genuine joy in personal, face-to-face relationships looks like,” specifically the personal relationships at the heart of the Buy Local and Slow Food/Slow Money movements, where producers and consumers are often friends and neighbors.

And it says, “This is what many of us have been missing” – but didn’t know we were missing – until something just shy of a miracle led us to realize, individually and collectively, that the foods we purchase and consume should sustain us emotionally as well as physically; and the relationships we enjoy, especially with the people who grow and prepare our food, should be affirmations of good neighborliness and community.

But the photo’s already said all this, hasn’t it? And said it better than I ever could.

Flour City Pasta's new milling machine.

The backstory: Earlier today, I visited the Central New York Regional Market in Syracuse and found Jon Stadt, owner of Flour City Pasta, manning the booth. Flour City Pasta’s new milling machine arrived back in December, and at today’s market Jon was practically giddy with excitement about his latest product, Flour City’s organic Red Fife Heritage Pancake Mix which, as the label proudly proclaims, is “Locally Grown and Milled in New York State.”

Red Fife is a heritage bread wheat that was originally grown in Ontario, Canada back in the mid 19th Century. Like many heritage varietals, its popularity declined over the course of the 20th Century as commercial farmers, food processors and seed companies identified and focused on producing an ever-smaller number of varieties that offered high yields and profits, often at the expense of nutritional value, taste and genetic diversity. Concern for preserving heritage varietals led to renewed interest in Red Fife in the late 1980s and 1990s, especially among organic farmers, who found that it does well without the application of chemical fertilizers and adapts quickly to local growing conditions.

The organic Red Fife wheat used in Flour City’s Heritage Pancake Mix was grown at Gianforte Farm in Cazenovia. Peter and Judy Gianforte are good friends of Farmshed CNY, and are well known to local food consumers for producing fantastic organic dried beans and grains. A 24-ounce bag of Red Fife Heritage Pancake Mix costs only $8.00, making it an excellent value for locally grown, organic flour.

Flour City Pasta and Flour City Milling and Grain’s organic products can be purchased at their retail shop, located at 1000 Turk Hill Park, Suite 134, Fairport, NY 14450, and at their vendor booths at the Rochester Public Market, the Highland Park Winter Market, the Central New York Regional Market, and the Troy, Schenectady, Park Slope Community, Westport, CT, and Croton-on-Hudson farmers markets. They also can be ordered on-line via the Internet, and are available at natural food stores and artisanal retailers throughout Central New York and the Finger Lakes (visit their website for more information).

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Giving Thanks.

By Neil B. Miller | November 24th, 2011

I am thankful for the incredible bounty we enjoy in Central New York.
I am thankful for all the dedicated individuals who farm the land and grow the foods we eat.
I am thankful for the animals whose lives we sacrifice, and for the individuals who see that they are humanely raised and slaughtered.
I am thankful for all the new friends I made this year.
I am thankful to be part of this wonderful community of producers, consumers, and activists who care about being good stewards of the earth, about growing healthy, nutritious food, and about each other.
I am thankful that more Americans are realizing that small is beautiful.
I am thankful to be here, now and to be part of the local food movement.

I am thankful for all this, and much more.

Now, would someone please pass the mashed potatoes?

Happy, Happy, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! What a truly great holiday this is!

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1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest

By Neil B. Miller | October 22nd, 2011

Well, the contestants of Farmshed CNY’s 1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest have all submitted their entries, and voting has begun. We received 5 submissions by Friday night’s entry deadline of 10pm, and they are all strong contenders.

Voting continues Saturday and Sunday, and ends at 8pm Sunday evening. I hope many readers will take the time to vote for their favorite pumpkins, the 1st and 2nd place contenders will each receive a 15-pound, pasture-raised natural Thanksgiving turkey from our friends at Creekside Meadows Farm in New Woodstock, NY

To vote, go to the Farmshed CNY Facebook page and “Like” one or more of photos submitted on the Farmshed CNY Wall by the contestants themselves, or one or more of the photos included in the album “1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest.” Viewers can vote for one or all of the entries, it’s your choice. While you’re there, I hope that you’ll also “Like” Farmshed CNY and become an active member of our Facebook network. You’re also welcome to post a comment here on the blog.

We’ll announce the winners of the 1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest on Facebook page late Sunday evening, and will again here on Monday.

So, let’s meet the contestants:

1. Jerry Longden, “I Love Creekside Meadows Farm.”

2. Lauren Michel, “New York State Sheaf of Wheat and Eggs.”

3. Jessica Rose Allen’s mom, “Organic.”

4. Jessica Rose Allen, “Buy Local.”

5. Lacey Scriven Cashman, “Eat Local.”

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Farmshed CNY’s 1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest

By Neil B. Miller | October 14th, 2011

Fall is officially here, and despite the unsettling fact the some local growers still have heirloom tomatoes on the vine – seriously, what’s up with that? – I’ve accepted the fact that Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner.

Actually, I’ve only reluctantly come to grips with the arrival of autumn, a season I typically adore, because it arrived much too soon after an inexcusably short, difficult summer. My therapist dragged me kicking and screaming to this realization by suggesting that I surround myself with all the familiar symbols of Fall: pumpkins, mums, kitschy Halloween lawn ornaments. I suggested instead decorating the front porch with dead raccoons, of which, like apples, there seems to be a macabre bumper crop this season, but she didn’t get the joke. Not much of a sense of humor, that one.*

In truth, autumn this year has been glorious, with warm, sunny days, moderate rain, and the woods all ablaze with color. So, to embrace Fall to the fullest, and to officially welcome Matt and Tricia Casper Park of Creekside Meadows Farm as Farmshed CNY’s newest business sponsor, I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and show you all some serious love. Of course, since this is Week 2 of the Farmshed 2.0 “Show the Love, Taste the Love” promotional campaign, you’re going to have to show some serious love in return.

Farmshed CNY’s 1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest.
(Hint: not just any carved pumpkin will do, boyo.)

1. The Reward.
To get everyone into the spirit of the season, this week we’re giving away 2-15 pound, natural, pasture-raised turkeys (a $60.00 value, each), from Creekside Meadows Farm, a grass-based farm in New Woodstock, NY. Matt and Tricia Park employ rotational grazing and sustainable farming practices, process their poultry on the farm, and use no herbicides or pesticides. They are master meat producers, and their chickens, turkeys and pork are amazing.

If you’ve never enjoyed a pasture-raised turkey, well, let’s just say you’re in for a treat, assuming you like real food with genuine flavor and texture, because naturally-raised turkeys taste nothing whatsoever like the inbred, industrially farmed, turkey-like food product found in your local supermarket.

2. The Task.

This week’s promotion is a true contest, because we have only 2 turkeys to give away. To participate, you need to carve a “locavore pumpkin,” and post one or more photos of your creation to the Farmshed CNY Facebook page.

By “locavore,” I mean anything that can be broadly but reasonably associated with local farming or food production here in Central New York and the Finger Lakes. I’d love to see a pumpkin carved with “Farmshed CNY” or our logo (see below), but “Buy Local,” “Syracuse First,” “Pride of New York,” “No Farms, No Food,” “Slow Food,” or the name or logo of your favorite farm, farmers market or state, regional or local farming-oriented organization, would work, as would images of livestock or seasonal crops. I trust your imagination, and will err on the side of inclusivity. But I’m not the person you have to convince, because the Farmshed CNY Facebook community will vote on the submitted carvings, and they collectively will select the 1st and 2nd place winners.

So sharpen up your knifes, hone your carving skills, and get creative. You’ll have until 10:00 pm next Friday evening, October 21, to submit your photos, and until 8:00 pm Sunday evening, October 23 to vote for – i.e., “Like” – your favorite submissions.

3. The Details.
a. The Contest begins immediately and will run through 8:00 pm Sunday evening, October 23. Contestants will have until 10:00 pm Friday evening, October 21, to submit one or more photos of their carved locavore pumpkins.

b. Contestants may submit as many different pumpkins as they want, but the submissions must be of pumpkins that they or someone in their immediate household carved – no ringers, please – and individual contestants can win only one of the two available turkeys. In the spirit of fair play, contestants must provide proof on request that they carved and are in physical possession of any pumpkins submitted for the contest, or their submissions will be invalidated.

c. The turkeys will be available some time in early November. The two winning contestants must pick up their turkeys at Creekside Meadows Farm, and make arrangements with Tricia Park as to when the turkeys will be processed and picked up. Anyone living in Central New York or the Finger Lakes (or outside of the region) is welcome to participate, but you must be willing and able to pick up your turkey at the farm, which is in Madison County.

d. Individuals must be 18 years old or older to participate.

e. Viewers may vote for – “Like” – as many carvings as they wish, and may vote as many times as Facebook will allow. If you submit a pumpkin for consideration, vote for it as many times as you can, and get your friends to visit the Farmshed CNY Facebook page and vote for it too. This is a promotional giveaway, so go for it, share the page with your friends, bribe relatives with offers to clear the table and clean up after Thanksgiving dinner, etc., etc. As far as I’m concerned, the more people who visit the Farmshed CNY Facebook page, the better.

d. To be eligible, photos of pumpkins submitted for consideration must be posted to the Farmshed CNY Facebook Wall. If for some reason you post one or more photos and they do not appear on the Wall, attach the photos to an email and send them to me at info@farmshedcny.com. In addition to posting the photos to the Wall, I will create a Facebook Photo Album titled “1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest,” and will periodically update and repost the album to our Wall.

e. In case I’ve forgotten something important, or my lawyer strokes out because I omitted some critical legal disclaimer, I reserve the right to revise the terms of this contest at any time, for any reason whatsoever, and without prior notice, or to cancel the contest altogether.

*I’m not actually seeing a therapist – “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Nor am I a “food pornographer” (see last week’s  “Show the Love, Taste the Love” blog entry). I just can’t resist a bit of artistic license every now and then, especially when it comes to indulging my warped sense of humor.

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Show the Love, Taste the Love, Week 1: Critz Farms Maple Syrup

By Neil B. Miller | October 7th, 2011

Momma always said I’d turn out bad. “Son, you gonna be a criminal, or a pornographer.”* Turns out you were right, momma, but not like you thought. See, I’m a food pornographer. A hardcore local food slut. I just can’t get enough. Look at the sweet, moist flesh of that organic Honeycrisp apple from Adams Acres; that silky smooth organic yogurt from Maple Hill Creamery – YEOW! WOWZA! WATCH OUT NOW! – and that sinfully delicious maple syrup from Critz Farms – OH LORD! PLEASE HELP ME! I CAN’T HELP MYSELF!

So, you want some of this?

Today marks the kickoff of our Show the Love, Taste the Love promotional campaign for Farmshed 2.0, our newly released web app. We’re giving away awesome good eats all month, into November, maybe longer. Straight up for real. Real food from local farms; awesome, shut-your-mouth products from local businesses and food producers; maybe even gift certificates from some of the region’s top locavore restaurants. Ridiculously good stuff.

But there’s a catch.

You’ve got to show us some love. Show us the love, and we’ll taste the love back at you. Week after week, until all the swag is gone. We’re trading local farms and food producers ad space in Farmshed 2.0 in exchange for their products, and as long as they keep trading, we’re gonna keep the promotion going.

Here’s what you’ve got to do.

Each week, by that Friday (hopefully sooner), we’re going to announce that week’s task. It might be something as easy as sharing the Farmshed CNY Facebook page with your friends, or uploading a photo or video of yourself at a local farm or business. Or maybe you’ll have to a carve a pumpkin with the words “Grow Local” or “Farmshed” and send us a photo, or bust a rhyme about how much you love local food. Pride of New York, baby, represent!

Week 1. The Task.

Go to the Farmshed CNY Facebook page, “Like” the page if you haven’t already done so, and “Share” the Farmshed CNY Facebook page with your peeps by 10:00pm this Sunday evening, October 9 – the “Share” button is located on the left sidebar beneath “Likes.” Make sure to include an active link – @Farmshed CNY – in your message, so it shows up on our Wall. If yours is one of the first 30 posts to show up on our Wall, you get a reward, maple syrup from Critz Farms in Cazenovia. If you’re number 31, no promises, but we’ll see what we can do.

The Reward.

A 100ml bottle of Critz Farms’ Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup, made on their farm from their own sugarbush.

Fair enough, right? But this week, because we’re rolling out the campaign, there’s also a Bonus Task. Upload a photo of yourself displaying the Farmshed 2.0 homepage on your smartphone, PC or tablet to our Facebook page (in addition to liking/sharing our Facebook page), and we’ll upgrade your reward to a 1/2 pint of maple syrup.

We’ll notify this week’s winners by posting a note or message on your Facebook page. If you live in the Syracuse area, we can arrange to drop off your reward or for you to pick it up during the week at Critz Farms. Otherwise, we’ll mail it to you once we get your address. We’re not culling or selling your data or doing anything uncool with it, we’ll just need an address to mail you your reward.

If you have any questions or want to contact us, shoot us an email at info[AT]farmshedcny[DOT]com.

Remember, if you miss out on this week’s reward, we’ll be giving away something just as awesome next week, and the week after that, and the week after that…

Peace.

Legal Stuff.

1. You need to be 18 years old or older to participate. We’re not 100% sure about this, but it probably will make our lawyer happy, and we like our lawyer.

2. You need to be a resident of the United States, preferably a resident of Central New York or the Finger Lakes region. Sorry, but postage is expensive, and we’re cheap.

*Actually, my mom is a very sweet Jewish lady from Brooklyn – BROOKLYN! – who always thought I’d be an orthopedic surgeon. Sorry mom, for the first of many disappointments. Love you!

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