Broken clouds, light snow
Broken clouds, light snow
15.8 °F
December 15, 2017
River Reporter Facebook pageTRR TwitterRSS Search

A friend to farmers

Area farmers are busy working in the fields, but there are multiple organizations that will lend them a hand in the business world.
TRR photo by Amanda Reed

By Isabel Braverman
October 26, 2016

LIBERTY, NY — Farmers are busy people. Busy during planting season, during the harvest, and generally busy on a day-to-day basis. While they work on growing their product, it’s easy to lose sight of marketing and selling that product. That’s where certain programs and initiatives can step in to help.

At the first Catskills Farm and Food Conference, held at Cornell Cooperative Extension, speakers from various groups came to present to farmers, food business entrepreneurs and community members from far and wide. The day-long event included workshops, panel discussions and a tour of the new Catskills Kitchen.

The workshops focused on product, promotion and packaging and included “Marketing your Food Business,” “Thinking Outside the Box: Packaging and Distributing Your Product,” “Starting from Scratch: Processing 101,” “Food Processing Rules and Regulations” and “Food Labeling: The Do’s and Don’ts.” During lunch, there was a speaker from the Taste NY and the Grown and Certified Program, which are initiatives of New York State Department of Agriculture.

The Taste NY initiative was launched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013. It promotes New York State’s food and beverage industry. Locally produced products are sold at cafés, concessions, stores, events and bars. There are multiple locations including the Javits Center, Grand Central Station and the Long Island Welcome Center, which had just opened the day before, and new locations will be added. This program basically allows farmers and food producers to get their products (from beer to vegetables to maple syrup) into stores, and it connects the dots between agriculture, food and the consumer.

There was a panel discussion with representatives from Pure Catskills, Hudson Valley Bounty, The Sullivan Catskills Regional Food Hub and Lackawaxen Farm Company. Sky Ballentine of Lackawaxen Farm Company based in Honesdale, PA said, “I understand how difficult it is to move perishable product.” His company works with 25 to 30 farms to distribute their goods in both wholesale and CSA packages (Community Supported Agriculture). “Not only does it help growers find ways to move their product, but it also helps people and businesses source their products,” Ballentine said. “We have to get creative.”