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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Showing posts with label agriculture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label agriculture. Show all posts

Successful Pumpkin Festival in Schoharie

Written By Editor on 10/12/14 | 10/12/14

The weather was right for the Pumpkin Festival in Schoharie. The event, which attracted wellwishers from across the County, showed off the agricultural plenty of the area.

Photos credit the Schoharie Promotional Association's Facebook Page.

On-Farm Berry Research May Provide Fruit Pest Control; Field Day August 13

Written By Editor on 8/5/14 | 8/5/14

Two eastern NY farmers with Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education/SARE grants are teaming with the 16-county Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program to evaluate a promising way to help berry growers reduce damage by an invasive species of fruit fly. 

Farm owner Dale-Ila Riggs of The Berry Patch at Stone Wall Hill Farm in Stephentown, NY, installs one of two types of netting she is evaluating for protecting blueberries from insect pests, primarily Spotted Wing Drosophila which has become a major threat to Northeastern fruit crops since 2011; photo: Laura McDermott/Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program
Spotted Wing Drosophila/SWD was first identified in the U.S. in California in 2008. It made its way to the Northeast by 2011 and is now a major pest of berry crops throughout North and South America. One fly can complete 15 generations in one year. By the time growers become aware of the damage, it is too late to save the crop.
In 2012, SWD infested some Northeast berry crops at 80-100 percent. The eFly SWD Working Group of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension assessed the measurable loss to SWD of cultivated blueberries in 27 states in 2012 and estimates New York losses, based on a 30 percent loss of 900 acres of berries, at $1,356,000. The loss of raspberry crop value was even higher.
The Northeast SARE-funded research, conducted at Hay Berry Farm, LLC, a small-scale diversified organic, you-pick berry and herb farm in Hoosick Falls, and The Berry Patch at Stone Wall Hill Farm, a larger diversified fruit and vegetables farm in Stephentown, both in Rensselaer County, is evaluating the use of netting to protect crops rather than using costly insecticidal applications.
At Hay Berry Farm, a popular you-pick destination known as a ‘no-toxin’ farm, owner Lawrie Nickerson had originally planned to plant 4.5 acres of blueberries but stopped at three acres after the 2012 planting because of SWD. The use of netting there in 2013 effectively excluded SWD and other insects of similar size and larger from the trial area.
Nickerson adds a key point: “The upshot is that insects the size of fruit flies could not get past the netting, and using the netting did not negatively effect our harvest weight, yield, or timing. In some cases, the berry yield was slightly higher.”
“The 2013 project at Hay Berry Farm indicated that netting smaller plantings could be an excellent strategy for coping with SWD, particularly as an alternative for organic growers,” says Cornell Cooperative Extension Fruit and Berry Specialist Laura McDermott with the 16-county Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program.

McDermott has provided technical support with project design, data collection and analysis, and outreach support to both Nickerson and Dale-Ila Riggs, owner of The Berry Patch at Stone Wall Hill Farm, where Riggs harvests all of her fruit crops for fresh, direct market sale from the farmstead, at Farmers Markets, and to dozens of regional restaurants. 
“Two years ago we lost 40 percent of our crop to SWD. We believe the insect was brought in by Tropical Storms Irene and Lee,” Riggs says. She estimates SWD damage cost $8000 in lost blueberry income alone.
In 2014, Riggs is testing netting on a half-acre of blueberries that ripen over a two-moth period. The vigorous plants are 8-feet-tall and 8-feet-wide. She is evaluating two different mesh sizes of netting. The major portion of her planting is covered with the very fine netting Nickerson used; one row is covered with a less-fine netting that is also less expensive.

“We need a system that will control SWD yet be practical for working around the berries and less costly,” Riggs says.
“I am waiting to see how well the less expensive netting works at Dale-Ila’s farm. If it works well there, we will evaluate the economics and I believe there may be a strong possibility that I will put netting up next year,” Nickerson says.
Both Nickerson and Riggs tried a number of other adjunct measures, including insect trapping and weed mats, as part of their NESARE grant projects. More information is available from the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program/ENYCHP that provides research-based expertise on production and marketing to commercial food and horticultural producers in Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Dutchess, Essex, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, Warren, and Washington counties

The ENYCHP will hold a Growers Field Day at The Berry Patch in Stephentown on August 13 from 3pm to 5pm. Learn more online at or call Marcie at 518-272-4210

Schoharie Fresh Participates in I Love My Farmers' Market Celebration

Written By Editor on 6/26/14 | 6/26/14

Cobleskill (June 26, 2014) - Schoharie Fresh, the online farmers’ market is again participating in the I Love My Farmers’ Market Celebration through American Farmland Trust. The idea of the celebration is to encourage people to shop at their local farmers’ market by asking them to pledge to spend money at the farmers market through this online portal; you are not actually sending money to American Farmland Trust.

Schoharie Fresh participated in the celebration last year and placed third in New York State in pledges received. Markets who participated last year included The Rochester Public Market, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, The Schenectady Green Market ; Schoharie Fresh customers pledged to spend more than customers at these markets. Schoharie Fresh would like to again place in the top three markets in New York State and maybe move up from the #64 spot nationally. 

Money spent locally at farmers’ markets helps support our local farmers, but also the local economy. According to information from American Farmland Trust, farmers selling at a local farmers market receive $8-9 from a $10 purchase and $7.80 is re-spent in the local economy. In addition, customers are getting the freshest food possible, which means that it tastes better and has more nutrients. 

Schoharie Fresh was started in 2011 under the Creating Healthy Places Grant as an alternative way for producers to sell their products and customers to purchase from a wide variety of local producers. The market has grown, with new producers joining each year; with the growth, most of the original producers are still involved as well. This year we have had the SUNY Cobleskill greenhouses selling hydroponic tomatoes on the site throughout the winter and spring and we have added several beef producers including Reeds Beef and At Ease Acres. Also new this year was Mos Delicious which sold prepared meals to heat and serve using local products in her meals. Everything sold on Schoharie Fresh was grown, raised or produced here in Schoharie County. 

Sales have grown steadily over the years and this year is no different. We have seen an increase in the amount of repeat sales of our customer and also a continuation of new customers purchasing from Schoharie Fresh. Sales information is tracked to be able to see how the market is doing. In 2014, weekly sales have exceeded sales in 2013 in both the total sale as well as the number of orders each week. Sales have increased so much in 2014 that many producers are having a difficult time keeping stock listed. ”Meat producers need to raise their animals to a certain size before they are butchered and this year we have sold a lot of meat to our customers and this took many of producers by surprise,” says Maureen Blanchard, Project Coordinator for Creating Healthy Places. “We are starting to see similar sales with the fresh produce, much of it selling out quickly when it is posted on the site.” 

As we move into the growing season we will add more producers and hopefully continue with strong sales. First time customers need to register using their email address and can then place their first order. If you place your order by Wednesday at 11:59 PM, it will be available for pick up on Friday afternoon at the Red Barn on Route 7 by the fountain on the SUNY Campus. Customers shop in the comfort of their homes and can order from about 30 producers and pick up and pay in one location, making this a time saving option. Ordering is done through and questions or comments can be emailed to 

Schoharie Fresh is a joint initiative between Creating Healthy Places and SUNY Cobleskill. Initial funding was provided from the Creating Healthy Places grant and SUNY Cobleskill students are responsible for much of the operation. Creating Healthy Places is a grant from NYS Department of Health to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables and places to be active around Schoharie County. For more information on Creating Healthy Places please contact Maureen Blanchard, Project Coordinator at or 518 255-5294. 

Governor Cuomo Nominates Schoharie Farmer as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets

Written By Editor on 1/10/14 | 1/10/14

The following is an official press release filed by the Governors office:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the nomination of Richard A. Ball as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
“Richard Ball is a lifelong farmer and advocate for sound farm policy who will bring fresh ideas and strong leadership to the Department of Agriculture and Markets,” Governor Cuomo said. “Agriculture is a vital sector of the state’s economy, providing thousands of jobs, food for people around the globe, and a way of life for generations of New Yorkers. Richard embodies the proud tradition of farming here in New York State and will be a superb addition to this Administration.”
A native New Yorker, Mr. Ball has made a living in agriculture his entire life. His inspiration to become a farmer came from his grandparents, who were lifelong dairy farmers. At 18 years old, Mr. Ball began his career in agriculture as a farm worker at a vegetable farm in Rhode Island. He later became operations manager of that same farm. After 20 years in Rhode Island, Mr. Ball moved back to the Empire State with an opportunity to become a farm owner. For the past 20 years, he has been the owner and operator of Schoharie Valley Farms in Schoharie, NY, which consists of 200 acres and produces a wide range of vegetable crops, small fruits and greenhouse crops. The farm serves both retail and wholesale consumers through an onsite farm market known as “The Carrot Barn” and ships to brokers and restaurants in the local area as well as New York City.
Mr. Ball has held a number of positions within agriculture and community organizations at the local, state and national level, including:
  • Vice President - New York State Vegetable Growers Association
  • Board of Directors, Member of Executive Committee, Member of Audit Committee, Chairman of Labor Committee – New York Farm Bureau
  • Member of Labor Committee (past Chairman) – American Farm Bureau
  • Representative for Schoharie County – Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council
  • Board of Directors (past President) – Schoharie County Farm Bureau
  • President – Schoharie Valley Association
  • Chairman – Schoharie Recovery, Inc., a non-profit formed to help the recovery effort from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee
  • Past President – Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Ball, his wife Shirley, and his three children are actively engaged in farming with a growing number of future farmers among the grandchildren.
Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau, said, “New York Farm Bureau could not be more pleased with the Governor’s outstanding selection of Richard Ball to be the next Commissioner for the Department of Agriculture and Markets. As a farmer, Richard understands the needs and challenges we all face on our farms. That knowledge and the respect he has among his peers will serve the state’s agricultural community well. We look forward to continuing Farm Bureau’s strong partnership with Richard and Governor Cuomo to support every farmer in New York.”
Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, said, “On behalf of the faculty and staff at CALS, I extend my congratulations to Richard Ball on this appointment. We look forward to working closely with Mr. Ball on key issues facing New York State’s farmers and producers. This is an exciting time for agriculture, and I am confident that his experiences and expertise will help New York State continue to lead the way.”
Mark Henry, President of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, said, “The New York State Vegetable Growers Association is proud and excited to hear about fellow vegetable farmer, Rich Ball’s, nomination as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. Rich is first and foremost a farmer. He’s watched his land flood, worked through blizzards, and watched the first green tips push their heads above soil every spring in spite of all the challenges. With the nomination of Rich Ball as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, the New York State Vegetable Growers Association feels that 2014 is starting out on a positive note.”
Jim Allen, President of the New York Apple Association, said, “I’ve known Richard Ball for a number of years and have worked with him on many different initiatives, including the Pride of NY program. He has an astute knowledge of all aspects of agriculture. His operation in Schoharie is a destination for thousands every year and I think he is an absolutely wonderful choice as our state’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets.”
GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen said, “On behalf of GrowNYC, I’d like to congratulate Richard Ball on this well-deserved nomination as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. Richard Ball understands the importance of building relationships between upstate agriculture and downstate consumers, and we look forward to working with him to expand opportunities for New York agricultural producers across New York City in the future.”
Jim Trezise, President of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, said, “Governor Cuomo’s selection of Richard Ball as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets is a strong choice, and great news for the state’s vibrant wine and grape industry. Mr. Ball understands that pro-growth agricultural policies lead to a robust farm sector. We’ve seen it already with the growth of our farm-based beverage industry and in a number of other industries across the state. I look forward to working with Commissioner Ball on Taste NY and other state initiatives designed to promote New York products.”

The Best of the Summer

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