Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fun for the fourth

The Independence Weekend Celebration at the Farmer's Museum.

The Fourth of July celebrations for this weekend are looking awesome! Spare some time between flippin' burgers and catching the fireworks show for these Catskill farm and local food events.

July 2nd, 10 am
The Herbalist's Table: Roses
Green Spiral Herbs
166 Coons Road, Huntersland
$45 per person
Roses are more than beautiful flowers - they are tasty flowers. We'll gather and cook organic rose petals for use in savory and sweet dishes. We will also gather garlic scapes (the stinking rose)for a pesto. Contact Betty Pillsbury at BPILLS@MIDTEL.NET or 518-827-8730 for more information.

July 2nd & 3rd
10 am to 8 pm
Taste of the Catskills
Maple Shade Farm, Delhi
A family friendly foodies delight summer style. Enjoy all the tastes of our area in one location from Farm to Fork! Farmers Market, local specialty products, restaurant samples, beer and wine tasting. Sample the foods, take in the scenery, and savor the day on our beautiful farm. Wagon rides, fireworks, music, and special activities make the event fun for everyone. Included in general admission.

July 2nd, 1 to 6 pm
Customer Appreciation BBQ
Catskill Harvest
Route 52, Liberty
Join the Catskill Harvest staff for the official kick-off of our 2011 summer event series, Catskill Harvest Presents... The event present you with a very special thank you for ongoing commitment and support from customers over the past four years. The complimentary BBQ in the Garden Center, will feature grilled burgers, pork and chicken, all sourced from local Sullivan County farms. We'll also serve soda and beer. RSVP to

July 2nd, 6 pm
Delaware Youth Center
8 Creamery Road, Callicoon
$10 donation, please bring a covered dish to share
A portion of the proceeds to the Sullivan County Farmers Markets.
Haystock 2011 is a benefit for FARMHEARTS, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping our regional farmers. Haystock will be a celebration of our rural heritage, complete with live music, theatrical performances and a potluck picnic featuring dishes prepared by some of New York City’s top chefs. Farmers' Market farmer Greg Swartz of Willow Wisp Organic Farm will speak, the NACL Theatre will perform excerpts from the “The Little Farm Show”, and five live acts will provide the music: The Haunted, Kazzrie Jackson, Elizabeth Rose, Sean Zigmund and Hezekiah Loveland.

July 3rd, 10 am
A Celebration of American Favorites: Independence Weekend
The Farmers' Museum
5775 State Highway 80, Cooperstown
Concert tickets $15/student; $25 adult.
Join us for an afternoon of American Favorites – ice cream, hot dogs and jazz! Free ice cream for the first 500 visitors (sponsored by Huffs Ice Cream) and $2.00 off admission for everyone! Actual ballpark franks (with all the fixings) from baseball stadiums around the country will be on sale. Try them all and vote for your favorite!At 3:00 pm, the Cooperstown Summer Music Festival presents the National Jazz Museum in Harlem All-Stars.

July 3rd, 12 to 3 pm
Farmstock Farm Tour
Apple Pond Farm
80 Hahn Road, Callicoon Center
$6 per adult, $4 per child over 5 years old
Presented by the Sullivan County Farm Network, this ongoing series of farm tours features a diversity of working operations. At Apple Pond, guests will be able to view goat milk, learn about chickens and tour a diversity of renewable energy systems.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June event round up

Whew, good thing the long days are upon us because the coming weeks are packed with a great round up of events!

Lee Reich's New Paltz garden. Part of the Garden Conservancy's
Ulster County Open Garden Day. Photo courtesy Lee Reich.

June 17th
7 to 10 pm
Screening of "The Greenhorns" followed by discussion with local Hudson Valley farmers, including Aileah Kvashay, Clove Valley CSA; Chris Kelder, Kelder's Farm, Dana Gentile, Darlin' Doe Farm; Ken Greene, Hudson Valley Seed Library; Jacob Diaz, Esopus Creek Farm. Tea and coffee included; muffins, scones, and cookies for sale. Suggested donation $10, but no one turned away for lack of funds.

June 18th
7 to 9 pm
Screening of "The Greenhorns," a film about young farmers in America. Followed by Q &A with the filmmaker and introduced by Delaware County farmer Ken Jaffe of Slope Farms. Dinner and tavern menu available along with special featuring local ingredients. For reservations, call (845) 676-3980. Suggestion donation of $10 to benefit the National Young Farmer's Coalition.

June 19th
Silver Heights Nursery & Gorzynski Farm, Cochecton Center
7460 State Rte 52
Narrowsburg, NY 12727 (use this address for driving directions)
This bimonthly farm tour series kicks off at a location that houses two farm operations. Silver Heights Nursery, an organic nursery specializing in heirloom fruit and vegetables and Gorzynski Ornery Farm, a diversified fruit and vegetable farm. Organized by the Sullivan County Farm Network. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children. Tours run from 12 to 3 pm.

June 20th
2:30 to 5 pm
Gorzynski Ornery Farm, 7460 State Rte 52
Narrowsburg, NY 12727
Part of the NOFA-NY summer field day series, this event will cover the essential use of beneficial insects at this diversified farm with over 60 varieties of apples, 12 varieties of pear and a large mix of berries. Freefor NOFA-NY & PASA Members / $15 All Others.
To register for this event, please call the office at (585)271-1979 ext 512 or visit NOFA's Online Shopping page.

June 21st
4 to 8 pm
Celebrate Summer
The farm will open up their barn as well as a few bottles of wine and share what their process is all about. There will be food and wine pairings, food and dog pairings, barrel samples, tank samples, long explanations, vineyard walks, pumpkin taunting, horseshoes and more. Drop by and find out firsthand why 2009 cabernet franc is the only wine to consider when lamb sliders are on the menu. And do all this while simultaneously supporting the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance as 10 percent of all sales will go towards their Arts Alive Drive.

June 25th
8 am to about 11:30 am
Calkins Creamery, Honesdale
In the first of two walking tours of the farm and creamery operation, the Mongomery family will lead visitors through the full farm operation from the pastures to the aging caves. The tour commences with a wine and cheese tasting couple with a brown bag lunch. $40 per person. Tickets may be purchased online. Please contact us at or call (570) 729-8103, with any questions.

June 25th
10 am to 4 pm
Four of the best private gardens in Ulster County will be open to the public. Unlike pre-programmed garden tours, Open Days garden tours are self-guided and flexible. You can shape your itinerary and set the pace to suit your interests. Admission to each participating private garden is $5 per person; children 12 and under are admitted free. Admission may be paid in cash or check. Tickets are not required to attend Open Days.

June 25th
12 to 3 pm
Neversink Farm, Claryville
Join us for a day at the farm. Take a tour, see the animals, vegetable fields, and then we will all dine riverside at a communal table. Chef Patrick Connolly of Bobo NYC will be creating unique dishes with organic produce from the farm. All ages welcome. Tickets Available by calling (212) 488-2626.

June 25th
5 to 8 pm
You’re invited to a Garden Party!
Enjoy the garden while helping the DVAA to reach its goal. Wear your best garden party outfit if you like, and enter our contests for The Best Party Hat, The Best Gardening Hat and the Most Unique Hat. Prizes, Punch, and Plates with Party Food will abound. Proceeds with benefit for the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance - Arts Alive Drive.

June 25th
7 pm
Join local chefs Amy Miller and Henning Nordanger for seasonally driven, farm fresh four-course dinners throughout the summer. We will offer dinners in the last Saturday of June, July and August at the beautiful Hill's Country Inn in the village of Callicoon Center. $50 per person, reservations required. Call (845) 932-7994.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Catskills beginning farmer group off to an exciting start!

We're pleased to share a report on the launch of the new beginning farmer initiative in the region, Catskills CRAFT. The group offers the opportunity for young and new farmers to learn from our region's experienced growers and to get to know the Catskills farming community.

With funding from Farmhearts, an organization committed to supporting the future of Catskills farms, a fellowship position was created this spring to support the beginning farmer programming. Sonia Janiszewski Persichilli of Wildflower Farm in Delaware County has taken the reigns of the fellowship and provides us with a summary of the first farm visit.

Talkin' tractors - a highlight of the tour for many!

The 2011 Catskills Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) kicked off on June 13th at Willow Wisp Organic Farm, growers of a diverse mix of organic vegetables, herbs and cut flowers for the Upper Delaware River Valley and The Catskills. Host farmers Greg Swartz and Tannis Kowalchuk lead 30 beginning farmers on a field tour of their 12-acre farm in Abrahamsville, Penn. Participants buzzed with interest and excitement throughout the evening that ended with a potluck social.

Sharing his experiences and passion for farming, Greg took the CRAFT guests on a walking tour of his greenhouse and produce fields, providing tips, tricks and advice to the many inquiring farmers in attendance. Having spent seven years as an apprentice before purchasing and beginning his own farm in 2007, he offered a unique understanding for his audience, highlighting the challenges that have lead Willow Wisp Organic to its successes. In addition to explaining how and what was growing beneath their feet, the tour provided vendor and supplier of preferences; how specialized equipment has increased efficiencies in sowing and weed control; and how to identify and increase production of trend crops.

The sun breaks through on the main Willow Wisp field.

A short hike to a side-hill field overlooking the valley opened discussion of Greg’s personal transition to full-time farming. His adventure began with what he thought would be a six-month farm program and turned into apprenticeships at three different farms. Internships taught Greg how to learn by doing and provided numerous opportunities to manage and experiment with cropping systems. With each new project and experiment, Greg’s passion for farming grew. Thoughtfully, Greg and Tannis developed their farm business plan, purchased their farm and are investing in its future.

Attendees left with full stomachs, a good deal of information to digest, and looking forward to the next Catskills CRAFT farm tour. Direct access to mentor farmers is a necessary resource for any developing farmer. Catskills CRAFT bringing that access right to the farm.

Willow Wisp Organic Farm products are sold in equal parts at farmers' market, through their on-farm CSA and to local retailers and restaurants, within 50 miles. Greg and Tannis are committed to supporting future farmers as their mentors have done for them. For more information about their farm or products, visit

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Views from the Field: Richard Giles

In the most recent Views from the Field, we hear from Delaware County vegetable farmer Richard Giles. Richard received a Pure Catskills Agricultural Development last year to purchase a new tractor implement for Lucky Dog Organic Farm. Also check out the video below for the Lucky Dog crew in action.

Lucky Dog Farm, Hamden NY from VeccVideography on Vimeo.

One of the most important crops on our farm has been a washed mix of baby salad greens, which we grow on wide, flat-topped bedded rows. And because we are an organic farm, weeds have always been our greatest challenge in growing this high-valued crop. So we applied for the Pure Catskills grant to help us purchase a tractor-mounted vegetable bed flameweeder.

This piece of machinery burns propane fuel through torches aimed at the surface of our crop beds in order to destroy small emerging weeds either just before planting or just before the crop emerges. I had used similar machinery for weed control in cotton in the south, but flame weeding hasn’t been a common practice in this part of the country. One of the obstacles we encountered as we began researching the equipment was that our local propane dealers were not familiar with it, and were at first reluctant to commit to supplying fuel for the machine.

The other obstacle was money. This is a familiar problem. I think that lack of access to money for production-improving practices is certainly one of the top problems for the small diverse farms in the Catskills. In the course of our search, we found machines built by two companies that seemed to fit our needs, one of them priced at about $8,500 and the other at about $12,500. As luck would have it, the machine best suited tour crops was also build by Flame Engineering, the company with the most experience in building flame weeding equipment. And it was the lower priced machine. Even so, we would not have been able to buy the machine without the Pure Catskills grant.

We received the machine in mid-June, a little late for a full-season test, but early enough to get a lot of use out of the new weeder. I had imagined the machine mostly as a salad production enhancing tool, but as soon as we had it set up and filled with fuel, we flamed over the tops of some just –emerging potatoes in rows that were becoming fuzzy with weed seedlings. Over the course of the summer, we used it on carrots, a crop that is very slow to germinate and very poor at competing with weeds, on unplanted beds ahead of our lettuce transplanted, on potatoes again at the end of the season, after the vines had been clipped in the weedy zone before harvest and of course on our salad beds.

Because we farm in a flood plain, we will never be free of weed seed, but we are already beginning to reduce our weed load with this piece of equipment. In the spring and early summer we usually prepare quite a bit of our vegetable cropland for planting. As we work through the season planting and transplanting, some of these fields have to be reworked, by means of mechanical tillage, several times to keep weeks down. With this flamer weeder, we are able to sweep quickly across these areas without disturbing the soil, to kill new flushes of weeds. The efficiency of this method makes me happy. One of my concerns when we were contemplating this machine was that even though we would not be using synthetic herbicides, we would be burning fossil fuel to kill our weeds. We are in fact doing just this. But we have made a positive compromise, trading a swift, low horsepower trip over the field to burn weeds with propane for several high horse power tillage trips.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Catskill region farm stays

Harvesting vegetables at Stony Creek Farm.

Has the recent New York Times feature on agritourism got you wondering about farms in the Catskills that offer similar experiences?

Below are our farm and food business members that offer overnight accommodations of all types, from deluxe platform tents to guest houses.

Apple Pond Farm - A guest house and farming activities available in Sullivan County.

Café Tamayo - Three guest rooms at this locally-focused restaurant in the village of Saugerties.

Catskill Rose - Four guest rooms at this locally-focused restaurant in the heart of the Catskill high peaks.

The Golden Guernsey - A renovated barn with two guest rooms located at the home of Early Bird Cookery in the Upper Delaware Valley.

The Hamden Inn - Guest rooms in this historic Inn upstairs from a locally-focused restaurant and adjacent to Lucky Dog Farm, Store & Cafe in Delaware County.

Handsome Brook Farm - Three guest rooms with farm activities available in Delaware County.

La Basse Cour - Two accommodation 'suite' options with farm-fresh foods in the Delaware County.

Neversink Farm - A renovated farmhouse located on an organic vegetable and poultry farm along the Neversink River.

Rich Farm - A country farmhouse located in the West Branch valley of the upper Delaware River.

Rolling River Café & Inn - A cafe, bar, gallery and inn with a convenient location in Sullivan County.

Stone & Thistle Farm - A guest suite co-located with Fable restaurant and working livestock farm in Delaware County.

Stony Creek Farm - Deluxe platform tents with farm and cooking activities offered at this diversified farm in Delaware County.

Turquoise Barn - Bed & breakfast and camping accommodations offered in conjunction to cooking classes at this teaching center in Delaware County.