Monday, March 29, 2010

Apply now for product development and promotion funding

Apply now!

Product development and promotion funding
available for Pure Catskills members

Applications due April 15th

Visit the Scholarships & Grants section of for application materials

Farm and food businesses focused on the development and promotion of local products are encouraged to apply for funding through the Pure Catskills Sustainable Agriculture Development Grant Program. This program is sponsored by the Watershed Agricultural Council and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection in order to advance the WAC's mission to support the economic viability of agriculture and forestry through the protection of water quality and the promotion of land conservation in the New York City Watershed region.

Funding will be awarded in three categories:

1. Product development: purchase and installation of equipment and supplies for activities related to adding value to a local farm or food product.
2. Marketing: promotional expenses related to sales of local farm and food products.
3. Outreach and education: public events and activities that educate the regional community about local farm and food products.

Eligibility requires a current membership in the Pure Catskills buy local campaign. Pure Catskills members include farms, retailers, farmers' markets, restaurants and food-related organizations that support the local food system within Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster Counties. Up to $5,000 is available to each applicant with a 25% match required. Projects and events of diverse scale and scope will be considered; large production volume or event attendance will not make individual applications more apt to receive funding.

Request for Proposals are available through the Pure Catskills website, Applicants are strongly encouraged to access application materials online. Grant proposals must be received by April 15, 2010. For more information, contact Challey Comer at or (607) 865-7090.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Watershed Post coverage of the Farm to Market Connection

Many thanks to our friends at the Watershed Post for their great coverage of our annual farm and food business get together!

Check out their event recap - the title captures it pretty concisely - Farmers Wanted.

Find out about the process behind the products from business gal extraordinaire, Jill Pauda - Open Sesame.

Or hear about where we're coming from in the planning of the event - To market, to market.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Now's the time to join a CSA!

Get connected with one of these local farms and receive a weekly delivery of fresh produce beginning this spring!
Learn more about how Community Supported Agriculture memberships work from Local Harvest or the Robyn Van En Center

Cochecton Center/Multiple Locations, Sullivan County
  • Gorzynski Ornery Farm
  • Pick up at multiple locations in Sullivan County
  • Optional addition of dairy share from Tonjes Farm Dairy in Callicoon
  • Contact John at (845) 252-7570 or

,Otsego County
  • Susquehanna Valley CSA Project
  • Big Sky Farm
  • Pick up in Cooperstown
  • Optional addition of egg, meat and cider shares
  • Contact Vali or Marybeth at (607) 638-9016
Damascus, Wayne County (Pennsylvania)

Deposit, Delaware County

Ellenville/Multiple Locations, Ulster County

, Sullivan County

Hamden, Delaware County

South Cairo, Greene County

Walton, Delaware County

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Photos from the Farm to Market Connection

This year's Farm to Market Connection was a great success! A sold out crowd of over 120 farm and food business owners gathered in Liberty, NY on March 21st. At the end of the day, many attendees headed home having made valuable sales connections.

The crowd gathers at the tradeshow.

The grower's panel featuring Mike Kokas of Upstate Farms, Mike Yezzi of Flying Pigs Farm, Greg Swartz of Willow Wisp Organic Farm and Kevin Engelbert of Engelbert Farms.

Gary Redmond of Regional Access and Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheesemongers speak on the buyer's panel.

John Bouno and John Rota of Foodtown Supermarket after the buyer's panel.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

An Editorial by Richard Giles

Richard Giles of Lucky Dog Farm submitted this excellent editorial on how Community Supported Agriculture can support a truly working landscape in this quarter's The New Franklin Register.

Community support of agriculture is an idea that makes sense to most of us. We agree to discount farmland tax rates in our towns in order to help farms stay afloat. And farms give the Catskills that Catskills Look that we like so much, not to mention the flavor advantages of fresh local food. In a recent survey in my town of Hamden, the residents who responded chose “working farms” as the thing they like most about the town. Overwhelmingly. The next most-liked feature of our town received only half the votes. Who could be against food, right?

And yet our food purchases overwhelmingly tell a different story. We don’t purchase much of our food from local farms. Most of our food travels many, many miles, and we have heard this so often lately that we’re tired of hearing it. Even so, those far-off farmers in California or Chile don’t get the most of our food dollar. Transporters, oil companies, and the distributors and handlers higher up the food chain get most of it. It is likely, in fact, that we waste more in the transportation of food than the food is worth. How does this make sense? And if we so love our local farms, why aren’t we putting our money where our mouths are?

The simplest answer is that the supply of local food just isn’t here to be bought. We might talk about the way the false economy of our industrial food system conspires against production of local food, or about how even the small farms of our area have been lured, over several generations, down the dead-end road of commodity agriculture. But let’s talk about those things another time. Much more interesting is a discussion of ways that it is possible to rebuild a
local food system.

For ten years I have operated Lucky Dog Organic Farm in Hamden, and so I would seem to be part of the problem and maybe part of the solution to this local food dilemma. If you want to eat more local food, I have to grow more local food. And each year we do grow more at Lucky Dog. About half of our dollar sales are wholesale to downstate, and the other half is divided among sales in local farmers’ markets, sales in our own store, and sales through a Community Supported Agriculture program to which our neighbors subscribe in order to receive a weekly box of in-season vegetables.

This last program, called CSA for short, is a popular plan across the country and may be the most direct way a community can support local farms. At its best it provides a direct connection between farmer and eater; at its worst it provides these same things--a real community. Our farm gets operating money early in the season when we most need it, and our customers get local organic vegetables through the growing season at a wholesale price. When there is a
flood (as in 2006) or a hailstorm (as in 2009), our CSA customers feel the loss directly, and in both cases this group was the block of our customers most supportive in getting our farm back to production. When there are too many collard greens and not enough tomatoes in the season’s shares, we hear about it from our CSA members. That’s community support.

Expansion of this part of our sales makes sense for our farm, and these sales have the potential to replace some of our wholesale sales to New York City. We also look forward to extending the season of this program with stored crops and with meat and dairy products grown by other local farms. There are, however, some challenges for a small farm operating a CSA. The buying members reasonably expect to have generous quantities of a broad variety of vegetables
and they expect to have quite a bit of variety in the share from week to week. This means we must plant and tend moderate quantities of many crops. And this often means more labor, and more anxiety. What do we have for that sixth item in the CSA boxes this week? And in enough quantity to give to everyone? Another challenge for our farm is that the size of our CSA group changes more from year to year than do the sales through our other outlets. So we have to
be light on our feet, which isn’t always easy when your boots are muddy.

While the CSA plan offers much hope for sustaining this farm in this community, it probably can’t solve the larger problem we are talking about. Rebuilding a local food system that has been deeply damaged and often abandoned, is a larger challenge, a community capital challenge. For most of us now farming in this community the urgent need is for money to continue operating from month to month. To imagine rebuilding a community food system is, on the other hand, to think hard about land, about efficient labor, about good machinery, about local movement of food and fertility, and about processing and storing what we grow and eat. And to talk about these things is to talk about long-term money. We might begin this conversation at any moment.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Students in Delhi are treated to a local lunch

Congratulations to our friends at Farm Catskills for their successful event this week at Delaware Academy in Delhi. The Daily Star has the full story.

Here's more from one of the event organizers, Faiga Brussel proprietor of Good Cheap Food in Delhi:

" On Wednesday morning, high school students got to see the film "Food Inc." about factory farming in the USA. Afterwards, they were treated to a lunch made from local ingredients: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, beet salad, yogurt, apple crisp....The ingredients were provided gratis or purchased from local and regional growers. An army of volunteers from the community peeled a ton of potatoes and a hill of apples for the event. And kids helped out during study halls.

After lunch, there were classroom meetings of students and teachers with community members involved in local food issues. The film and the issues it raised was discussed, and the students were encouraged to make suggestions about what individuals and the group could do to support local agriculture.

The student group I participated with was lively and well informed. A pleasure to be with. And they all raved about the meal.

Final act of the afternoon was all the groups convening in the auditorium to share the goals of each group and engage in a Jeopardy type contest between grades with the questions relating to food and farming. The seniors won, and their prize was to be apple pies served to them today during school.

Some of the recommendations that the kids came up with were: local food lunches at school weekly (they said they would peel the potatoes) , a garden at school, buying more local foods from farmers markets and growers both as individuals and as an institution.

All and all it was an inspiring day. A wonderful group of volunteers from the community, dedicated staff members and students who persevered to make it happen. Now we just have to figure out a way to keep the positive energy flowing and keep the students engaged in these issues.