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Spending Sundae on the Farm

10348592_467295060072281_7929228610798947938_n This past Sunday was Saratoga County’s 19th annual Sundae on the Farm held at Welcome Stock Farm. It is an afternoon event to celebrate agriculture in the county and it takes place every Father’s Day on a local farm. The farm offers tours of their production, there is food, ice cream provided by Stewart’s, pie a la mode from Smith’s Orchard Bake Shop, local cheese, maple syrup, and other vendors and exhibitors, live animals, and music. The event is organized by the local town, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Saratoga County Farm Bureau, and Saratoga County Agricultural Promotion Committee.
Fifty years ago, Saratoga County had approximately 1,000 farms. Today that number had dwindled to just over 500. Land in agricultural production has decreased as well, from 139,000 acres to 78,000 acres across the county according to the USDA Census of Agriculture. As sad as this may sound, there is good news from these changes. The most recent census shows that since 2007, farmland has increased as a total and on a per-farm basis. Market value of these farms’ crops and products has also increased, and the number of principal operators as a primary occupation has increased, meaning that there are now more farmers in the county. Farms are more efficient now than they have ever been due to rapid improvements in technology and research. Because of this, we can have fewer large farms and we do not need a lot of little farms. However, this lessens the number of everyday farmers we find in our communities and further distances the relationship everyday consumers have with their food as these large farms get pushed out of the city limits. Sundae on the Farm is just one of the ways this county excels at strengthening that relationship and encouraging people to come to these farms and learn about the processes of where their food comes from. Saratoga county is also a big agro-tourism community where people can often go pick their own fruits and vegetables at local farm-stands, re-enforcing the connection people have with their food. download

This was my introduction to educating everyday people about invasive species and giving them the resources they need to be able to identify them and report issues with some of New York State’s worst species. Some of these species are those that I won’t even be dealing with. I had to quickly catch on about the Emerald Ash Borer, the Asian Longhorn Beetle, landscaping invasives, and so on. It was good to see the interest much of the community had in trying to stop these pests before they began to lose the plants and animals they had. Many people picked up the brochures I had made to use as a guide this summer, so that was exciting for me, to see my materials become a helpful guide to stopping the spread of invasive landscape ornamentals and agricultural weeds.

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