Adam Shelepak ’17 receives town-gown leadership award

Senior Adam Shelepak has been named the 2017 winner of the Cornell University Relations’ Campus-Community Leadership Award. The annual honor is presented to a graduating senior who has shown exceptional town-gown leadership and innovation. Among his many off-campus activities, Shelepak has served as chair of the Cornell Student United Way…

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Hemp Summit looks at New York’s next big cash crop

State officials are embracing industrial hemp as a lucrative addition to New York agriculture as regulations are relaxed around a versatile plant with the potential to thrive in the state. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo convened the first-ever Industrial Hemp Summit on April 18 at the College of Agriculture and Life…

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Anabel’s Grocery strives to stem food inequity on campus

The student team behind Anabel’s Grocery, under construction in Anabel Taylor Hall and scheduled to open in summer 2017, envisions a campus where all students have access to affordable, high-quality food without having to sacrifice their studies due to hunger or lack of nutrition. “The issue of food access and food…

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Author Michael Pollan to deliver Iscol lecture April 27

Michael Pollan, environmentalist and best-selling author, will present “Out of the Garden” at the 2017 Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture April 27 at 5 p.m. in Kennedy Hall’s Call Alumni Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will be livestreamed on CornellCast. For a quarter-century, Pollan has written…

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High Quality Food and Oversight for Food Safety and Security

The ability to routinely access enough nutritious and safe food and water affects people and communities worldwide. Whether looking at Upstate New York, the U.S., East Africa, or Asia, food security is a pervasive issue that requires attention—from a food systems perspective—to coordinate policy, programs, or interventions that ensure safe and sustainable…

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Cornell hosts urban and rural students for food security program

More than 50 high school students from across New York state visited Cornell March 31-April 1 for the New York Youth Institute (NYYI), a program giving students the opportunity to engage with issues related to agriculture and food security at home and around the world. The NYYI is New York’s…

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‘Meat and Greet’ fair brings farmers to local tables

‘Meat and Greet’ fair brings farmers to local tables

Ox Creek Farm at Meat and Greet

RJ Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension Paul Batz, right, owner of Ox Creek Farm in Canandaigua, New York, greets potential customers at the 2017 Meat & Greet Farmer and Chef Fair.

When it comes to shopping for meat, more consumers are looking for products raised locally. Many of those consumers, however, have trouble connecting with nearby farms to satisfy their buying preferences. Looking to break down that barrier in upstate New York was the inaugural Meat & Greet Farmer and Chef Fair.

Held March 11 at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, the event was a collaboration between Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Finger Lakes Institute. Also sponsored by the Meat Suite Project and Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty, the event brought together more than 20 farms and well over 100 consumers, including home cooks, professional chefs, restaurateurs and food distributors.

When Kyli Knickerbocker, co-owner of Firestone Farms in Livonia, New York, first heard about the Meat & Greet Fair, she was quick to sign on as vendor. In taking advantage of the networking opportunity – both with consumers and fellow farmers – she and her partner, Jake Stevens, appreciated having a much-needed forum to explain and promote their farm’s value-added agricultural practices.

“I think communities do a great job supporting local vegetable farmers,” said Knickerbocker, who raises beef, poultry and heritage breed hogs along with vegetables and herbs. “However, for whatever reason, consumers aren’t quite as confident taking the plunge to buy meat from local farms.”

Having a positive story and access to an audience, she said, is essential for overcoming that barrier.

“At our booth, we saw a steady stream of consumers from the area who wanted to hear about our pasture-raised livestock and our farm,” said Knickerbocker, also a high school math teacher. “It goes a long way when we’re able to explain and show the care we put into our animals and the sustainable practices we use, such as supplementing feed with scratched or bruised produce from our fields and local grocery stores, and how we work with local breweries and distilleries to reuse their spent brewer’s grain for cattle and pig feed.”

Event organizer Nancy Glazier, small farms specialist with CCE’s Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops agriculture team, has worked with Firestone Farms on a variety of projects, including sustainability measures and obtaining quality assurance certifications. She said the challenges Firestone faces are hardly unique.

“Producers do a great job of taking care of their animals and the day-to-day things, but marketing often does not always come naturally to those folks,” said Glazier. “But it is so important that farmers get out and let consumers get to know them. There is no one better positioned to tell an animal’s and farm’s story than the farmers themselves.”

Riesenberger at Meat and Greet

RJ Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension Chef Scott Riesenberger from Ravinous Kitchen at Ravines Wine Cellars in Geneva, New York, prepares fried duck and waffles as part of a cooking demonstration at the Meat & Greet Fair.

In addition to the display booths manned by farmers from around the region, the Meat & Greet Fair featured cooking demonstrations from four local chefs using products provided by event vendors. Scott Riesenberger, chef at Ravinous Kitchen at Ravines Wine Cellars in Geneva, who prepared fried duck and waffles using fowl from Ox Creek Farm in Canandaigua, New York, recently moved back to the area after 17 years cooking in and around New York City. He told the crowd that in culinary circles, duck from the Finger Lakes region is recognized as the best in the northeast.

That day marked the first time he had cooked with a duck from Ox Creek Farms. “It was a great opportunity for chefs like me to get exposed to new producers from around the area that we otherwise might not,” Riesenberger said. “My restaurant focuses on incorporating local ingredients into our menu, so making these connections is ideal.”

Despite being held on a snowy, bitter-cold day, organizers said the Meat & Greet exceeded all expectations. “Attendance was great and we got tremendous feedback on the networking aspect,” said Glazier, who spearheaded CCE’s efforts along with Marie Anselm, agriculture economic development specialist. “Driving the event’s success was the collaborative effort between CCE and the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. We at extension have the farmer connections and my co-organizer Sarah Meyer from the Finger Lakes Institute has a rich network of restaurants that she called on. It was a successful recipe.”

This article is written by RJ Anderson and was published in the Cornell Chronicle on March 28, 2017.

Cornell inaugurates new seed systems initiative in Nepal

I have been farming for the last 50 years. I have seen production dwindling slowly and steadily, erratic climatic conditions, bad seeds and lack of finance as key issues which have led to the fall of prosperity for farmers,” said Hari Baktha Dhakal from the Chitwan region of Nepal, one of more than 200 farmers who gathered for the inauguration of the Seed Systems for Nepal initiative Jan. 23

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