Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sugar Blossom Flowers will sweeten up your summer with local bouquets

I don’t know about you, but there’s been so much rain lately, that we’re starting to day dream about warmer days, and dare I say it? Summer!

Speaking of … we recently came across an interesting new flower share program from Sugar Blossom Flowers and hear they are offering a bonus bouquet to anyone that signs up by May 1 (that’s this Sunday folks)! Thanks to owner Ann Manby for putting the following information together for us.

A spring bouquet featuring pink and yellow Ranunculus (from a certified organic grower) and salmon Alstroemeria

Beginning Memorial Day, Sugar Blossom Flowers will be creating hand-tied bouquets of some of the freshest, most beautiful flowers in bloom and bringing them to a market near you! We’re excited to be working with several established, talented and responsible local growers including Anne Hart of The Cutting Garden, Jill Wiener of Earthgirl Flowers and Tannis Kowalchuk of Willow Wisp Organic Farm.

Pricing starts at $15 per week, plus tax. Full Shares include 15 weeks of fresh bouquets from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Partial Shares are available by the month for June, July or August (4 weekly bouquets). You choose the most convenient pick-up location: Callicoon Wine Merchant (Callicoon), CAS Arts Center (Livingston Manor), Catskill Harvest (Liberty), Eureka Market & Cafe (Grahamsville), or Pepacton Natural Foods (Downsville).

Complete details regarding our Summer Flower Share program are posted here. You can also find us on Facebook, and we’ll be among the 50+ local purveyors at FOODSTOCK May 7 at the Villa Roma. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring events!

Come out of hibernation and head out for a variety of happenings this spring. Whether you're a farmer, a foodie or just interested in learning more about agriculture the Catskills region, there's something coming up that will pique your interest.

Get to know the vendors at FOODSTOCK with this WJFF video.

Pot Luck Lunch and Cheese Sampling
Wednesday, April 20th, 10 am to 4 pm
1211 Kelso Road, East Meredith

Hobnob with New York State cheese makers and learn about the regulatory, production and sales challenges. Get the skinny on how fast cheese makers are growing in NYS! Presentation by Dave Barbano from Northeast Dairy Research Center at Cornell University on potential legislative changes involving raw milk cheeses and on milk chemistry research. Registrants are encouraged to bring food and cheese to share. Contact Nancy Taber Richards of Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese Company at (607) 387-3108 or

Ground Up: Cultivating Sustainable Agriculture in the Catskills Region
Saturday, April 23, 12 pm
Delaware Community Center, 8 Creamery Road, Callicoon
Last spring, students and faculty from Columbia University collaborated with the Open Space Institute (OSI) and Catskill Mountainkeeper to assess the current state of agriculture in the Upper Delaware Valley. The resulting report will be shared at this event happening in conjunction with the final indoor farmers’ market of the season in Callicoon. The report presents case studies of six farmers who, through creative adjustments in both production and presentation, have constructed their own models—dynamic templates for resource protection and adaptation to changing markets.

The study concludes with a series of “what if?” scenarios: What if all available farmland in Sullivan County were in production? What if schools in Sullivan County all served local milk? As the report contemplates economic and other impacts of increased local government advocacy for farmers, the farmers believe, in the meantime, that consumers will continue to dictate the role local agricultural operations play in major metropolitan markets. Contact Emily Offen of OSI at or (212) 290-8200 ext. 306.

Value Added Food Classes
Each class runs from 5:30 to 8 pm
An ongoing series offered by SUNY Sullivan, Loch Sheldrake
Participants will meet regional entrepreneurs, gain access to materials on how to develop their own products and join a network that will participate in future field trips and related classes. Contact Kristin Geeslin at (845) 434-5750 x4382.

Launching and expanding a value-added food with Jill Padua of Jill’s Kitchen. Processing regulations with Paula Barber of NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets.

May 5th, First Presbyterian Church of Jeffersonville
Evaluating marketing channels with Trish Westenbroek of CCE-Sullivan County and distribution opportunities with Dan Young of Culinary Alliances.

Food & Wine Festival
Saturday, May 7th, 11 am to 4 pm
Admission is $20 with wine or $15 without wine
For tickets, call (845) 482-4141 or email
View registered participating businesses at WJFF's webpage. FOODSTOCK will feature
farmers, producers, specialty foods, distributors, restaurants and wineries offering their goods for sale and providing tastes for the expected hundreds of guests.

Spring job opportunities

Spring is here and job opportunities are popping up! Here are just a few for those interested in community development, retail, restaurant and farm work.

Community Food Security Associate
Sponsored by Farm Catskills
Located at Delaware Opportunities, Hamden, NY

This 455 hour Rural Health Service Corps member will start in May 2011 and help to make local, nutritious foods more available to low income families and seniors in Delaware County through the organic Food Bank garden at Delaware Opportunities, and meals programs including Meals on Wheels and Head Start offered at various sites around the county. In addition, the member will join Farm Catskills’ Farm-to-School and Farm-to-Institution teams, helping to build relationships between farmers, classrooms, cafeterias and the community. The Community Food Security Associate will assist with various outreach, coordination, and youth training programs related to strengthening the local food system and access to local food. Living allowance of $3000 and Segal Education Award of $1,415. For more information and online application:

Full and Part-time Front Counter Service
Full and Part-time Pizza Makers and Short Order Cooks
7991 Rte 55 (formerly Chestnut Woods)
Grahamsville, NY 12740
(845) 985-5152

Eureka Market and Cafe is a gourmet market and cafe opening in Grahamsville at the beginning of May. We are looking for friendly, reliable, and smiley people to join our fun and upbeat work atmosphere. Experience is preferred for positions offered. Please apply in person with resume Monday through Friday 10am to 4pm and ask for Jamie.

Farm Manager
Blenheim Hill Farm
Farmer sought to take charge of the overall planning, implementation, organization, and management of its farming activities. The individual must be “hands-on” and proficient in critical tasks involved with setting up a new farm – clearing land, building infrastructure such as greenhouses, sheds and fences, as well as livestock and produce production. In addition to being hands-on, the individual needs to be skilled in strategic planning (both short-term and long-term), staffing, and financial management. Interested candidates are asked to submit their resume and cover letter to Mona Meng at

Seasonal market help
Saugerties-based business in search of staffing at the Pakatakan Farmers' Market in Halcottsville. Market is each Saturday 9 am to 2 pm beginning May 21st and ending October 8th. The farm's booth is already set up in the barn so no heavy tent lifting is required. Contact Kathy at (845) 246-3405 or

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Farmhearts Fellowship Awarded

Victoria Lesser, Bruce Ferguson, Laurie McFadden, Michael Lang and Heather Carlucci
of the Farmhearts Board present funding toward the Farmhearts Fellowship to WAC staff
and 2011 Fellow,
Sonia Persichilli.

We are thrilled to announce Sonia Janiszewski Persichilli as the recipient of the 2011 Farmhearts Fellowship. This position has been made possible through an award from Farmhearts, a Sullivan County-based organization with a mission to preserve the environmental integrity and economic sustainability of agricultural regions by supporting family farms. In 2011, the Fellow will work to advance beginning farmer programming in the Catskills region.

The first item of work will be the formation of a CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) chapter. CRAFT is a national model that provides networking and educational opportunities for beginning farmers. Sonia’s work will also include the launch of Catskills FarmLink, a website linking land seekers with available properties.

A Delaware County native, Sonia recently returned to the Catskills with ten years’ experience in communications, marketing and events management. As a third -generation farmer passionate about the future of farming in New York State, Sonia plans to utilize her skills actively promoting agriculture and the region’s farming legacy and opportunities. Sonia currently runs her own freelance business, working with farmers, Farm Catskills and other organizations and businesses to develop marketing and communications strategies and tactics. Throughout her career, Sonia has worked with a wide range of clients from nonprofits to Fortune 100 companies, such as BAE Systems, Honeywell, DSM and Performance Fibers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Product development and marketing grant application now open!

Members of the Pure Catskills buy local campaign are encouraged to apply for the 2011 round of product development and marketing grants. Pure Catskills members include farms, retailers, farmer’s markets, restaurants and food-related organizations that support the local food system throughout Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster Counties.

Proposals will be accepted in two categories: Product Development and Marketing and Education. Applications are due May 20th. For full details, view the application materials. Questions regarding the application process will be accepted via email to Challey Comer at until May 10th.

In 2010, 15 grants were awarded to implement diverse projects including livestock processing, farm to school initiatives and agritourism events.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Views from the field: Gideon Frisbee

The sap house at the Frisbee Farm. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Pickens.

Today's "View from the field" is a spring update from Gideon Frisbee of Riverdale Farm & Forest in Delhi. Riverdale was the recipient of a Pure Catskills grant to diversify their line of maple products through the purchase of a filter press. The farm is now able to market their syrup in a wider variety of sizes and containers.

Greetings from Riverdale Farm & Forest in Delhi NY. We’ve made it through the month of March, dodged the latest snowstorms, and are thinking SPRING! It is a busy time of the year for us in many aspects of our operation. We have two new calves in our grass fed beef herd and more to come any day. Our first batch of feeder pigs will be here this weekend and meat chickens are coming next month. Most of our time right now is spent in the sap house, producing pure maple syrup from our 800-900 taps. It has been an excellent year and it is not over yet. Many producers in the area are very happy with the season, especially after a very poor season last spring.

We are excited this year to be using our new 7” short bank filter press that we were able to purchase with the assistance of a Pure Catskills Sustainable Agricultural Development Grant in 2010. This machine has allowed us to expand our packaging capabilities to not only include our usual Catskill Mountain Pure plastic jugs but also new decorative glass containers. The use of a filter press allows us to package a beautifully clear product with no fine particles or sugar sand that could have easily been seen in a glass container otherwise. We have focused on packaging in a 250 ml size glass maple leaf which has been very popular amongst our customers. The fancier packaging is great for gifts, and our customers are buying more syrup than usual for this reason.

As we enter into April, we hope that Mother Nature cooperates and extends our already successful maple season a bit longer. If not, there is always plenty more work around the farm to be done!