Candy apple in the hay maze

Hudson Valley Apple Festival

New York State Apple Farmers Are Not All Happy Campers this Year

It was a grey day but none the less, there was an enthusiastic turnout for the Hudson Valley Apple Festival, held in Germantown, New York for the first time this year.

Although I did the obligatory journalistic research to identify the organizers of the Festival, I found out very little other than that they received terrific sponsorship from local businesses.

There was an awesome little hay maze, arts and crafts vendors, pumpkin and apple themed games, and even a small farmer’s market.   I visited a sponsor’s booth (the only business booths allowed) of the local radio station, spun the wheel and won a tee-shirt!  We oggled at the old cars before procuring candy apples, snapping the pics below and dashing off.

Which led me to reflect and remember; wasn’t this a really bad year for apple farmers?  And yes it was, starting with a late spring frost that damaged up to 70% of fruit and was the worst since 1955, and ending the bombarding hale that damaged more of the surviving crop.

I love that the Don Baker Farm sold “ugly”(hailstorm pocked)  fruit – though steeply discounted.  The June hailstorm took a hit and miss approach, and according to the Farm’s website, Don Baker’s entire crop was obliterated, though other fruit farmer’s in Columbia County were hardly impacted.

So if Apple Festivals stir the public’s imagination for the harvest, then the harvest must be had, and at a steeper price this year because of the inevitable shortage of apples.  Lets just hope for less extreme weather during the next growing season.

Making local foods available year round


I am thrilled to see Hometown Foods, LLC at the Hudson Farmer’s Market.  Anna Dawson has refined her locally sourced, nutritious frozen and vacuum packed food business for some time now.  I am now delighted to paraphrase the laudable mission of Hometown Foods:

To provide easy access to locally preserved, reasonably priced frozen foods with the highest commitment to nutrition and quality.

Anna won several grants to build the Harvest Kitchen in 1998.  Her goal was to create healthy meals from local farmers’ unsold produce.  Anna also extended the Harvest Kitchen to the community through workshops demonstrating preserving techniques and the loan of the kitchen.

Anna’s goal is to inspire a network of rural/urban Harvest Kitchens, a solution that Anna, as a farmer and foods teacher, deems practical in helping consumers avoid food related diseases through education.  The the business model she has developed for making locally produced foods available all year round and facilitating local engagement with that process  is visionary and inspiring.

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Learn more about Hometown Foods and Harvest Kitchen at

Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Project Drives the New Farmer Narratives Initiative

Chatham Food Coop, May 18, 2012

Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Project Promotes New Farmer’s Narrative Project through Local Libraries

Anna Duhon, Project Coordinator of The New Farmer Narrative Project Travelling Exhibit, Journeys into Farming, describes The New Farmer Narrative Project as driven by the stories of new farmers.
While it is understood that the vocation of small scale farming is in decline, there is also renewed interest in the field by those without traditional experience. New farms are sprouting up all over the country, including Columbia County, New York.
The purpose of the project is to document the journey of the new farmer as they embark upon their agricultural careers in Columbia County. From interviews and surveys conducted with new business people who started farms in the area during the last ten years , local, state and federally regulated ag-issues that effect that community, emerge.
Data obtained will provide a description of what services would benefit this new business community, how to better promote their products, and finally, how to use this information to form case studies for farming curriculum.

Grant Funding Opportunities
Of particular interest to me was the use of the public libraries in Columbia County by the Project as exhibit venues. Public Libraries are poised to develop dynamic partnerships with local businesses, and farming enterprises. Building strong collections of books and resources relevant to the local farming community should be each Columbia County library’s priority. I strongly advocate for a coordinated collection building strategy between county libraries in all collection areas relevant to farming, agriculture and sustainable living.

Farmers’ Market Logos and Signage

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A short slide show inspired by some of my favorite farm vendors this Saturday.

Look out for their logos and signage!

Radishes, from Fog and Thistle Farm, cheddar cheese from Hawthorne Valley Farm, and multi-grain quinoa bread from LOAF made an exciting sandwich that afternoon.

Next week I’ll try  another cheddar sandwich with spicy cresses from Red Oak Farm and Blue Star Farm.  Mayo is not necessary.

My Product Pick of the Week – Curried Sauerkraut

Product of the week; Hawthorne Valley Farm’s lacto-fermented, sauerkraut. Available flavored as well. I bought the curried sauerkraut – highly recommended by the Farm’s Green Market Program Director, Ben Borkovitz.

Went home and sampled it with delicious eggs procured from Red Oak Farm’s delectable free-range chickens (you should see how orange the yolks are), scrambled and served alongside sauteed wild ramps (also from Red Oak Farms).

First your mouth tingles from the sourness of the kraut, and then the flavor of raw tumeric root, chilli peppers and cumin seed kicks in! A terrific taste experience. Caraway seed, ginger, beetroot flavors available as well. More information at: