Jewett’s Cheese House, Earlville, NY

By Neil B. Miller | July 28th, 2010

In a very real sense, those of us who care about the Buy Local movement are playing catch up to the Jewett family, who were doing local long before most of us knew or cared about where our food came from.  Having settled in Earlville in the 1960s, by the early 1970s the Jewetts had opened their Cheese House on Earlville Road, making them one of the oldest cheese producers in Central New York.

Today, Jewett’s is run by Terri Jewett Larkin. In addition to the dozen of so New York State Cheddars made for Jewett’s by the McCadam Cheese Company of Chateguay, NY, which are stored and aged in a warehouse across the road, Jewett’s also boasts a nice selection of other cheeses, including some extraordinary goat’s milk cheeses from Painted Goat Farm, located in Otsego County.  The Jewett’s Cheddars range from 2 and 3 years old up to 10-, 12- and even 16-year-old aged cheeses, which have identifiably unique flavors and textures.  I particularly liked the 10-year-old Cheddar named “The Colonel,” which combined the XXX sharpness of aged Cheddar with a nice creaminess and a hint of granularity.

Foods and food samples are everywhere, with jams, jellies, and condiments from a number of NY State producers, honey and maple products from local farms, pancake mixes and flours from New Hope Mills of Auburn, NY, mustards from Foothill Hops Farm, which is leading a revival of New York State’s hops industry, and Nunda Mustard, along with racks of candies and snacks, bulk herbs, beans and spices, and a wall of refrigerated products.  Terri is clearly selective about what she purchases, however, because the shop is well and deliberately stocked.

We are very fortunate that the number of talented cheesemakers and boutique food producers in Central New York has grown considerably in the past few years.  And as last week’s Buy Local festivities made clear, Madison County is home to several of the region’s best locavore restaurants and organic/sustainable farms (Drover Hill Farm, which produces outstanding Angus beef, is next door to the Jewett’s shop).  There is something to be said for being one of the first businesses to think local, however, and the Jewetts have been doing local longer than just about anyone.

Jewett’s Cheese House is located at 934 Earlville Rd, just a mile or so south of the Poolville Country Store (which despite its name is one of Madison County’s top locavore restaurants), and about ten minutes from downtown Hamilton.  Cheeses can also be ordered on-line via Jewett’s website or by calling them at 800-638-3836. The shop is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, and most Sundays from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm (the shop is closed on Saturdays).

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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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