Jul 28, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
More than 5,000 people spent the day on the farm last Saturday, July 26, for the seventh annual Madison County Open Farm Day event. Farmers from all corners of the county, offering everything from beef to bison, from honey to mushrooms, from fruits to vegetables and everything in between, opened their farms for the day to allow the general public to come and see exactly where their food comes from and what it takes to make it available.
As Vince Wagner, owner of Ju-Vindale Holsteins on Ballina Road in Cazenovia said, when summing up the educational importance of the event, visitors got to see that, “Good food right off the farm is the best for you.”
Thirty-five farms and three farmers markets from across the county participated in Open Farm Day this year. The event was sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County’s Agricultural Economic Development Program.
Although final attendance figures were not tallied as of press time, CCE estimates that more than 5,000 visitors participated in Open Farm Day, said Marie Anselm, agriculture economic development resource educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County.
“We’re really happy to have the community so supportive and so invested in this event,” Anselm said. “We’re hoping it was a money-maker for farmers; [but] one of our biggest goals is that this highlights local farmers and the products they produce in Madison County. We hope it brings year-round business to these farms as well.”
Of the approximately 5,000 people who attended to Open Farm Day last weekend, farms ranged from having 40 to more than 1,000 visitors, with visitor spending ranging from $0 to $50 or more per farm, Anselm said.
Of the 35 participating farms, six were new this year, and some from last year chose not to participate, which not only gives the farmers some time off from the busy event, but also allows for a fresh rotation and mixture of farms for the event. Many of the six new farms participating this year saw some of highest visitation, such as Equuleus Acres on Oxbow Road in Canastota, which offers horseback lessons and pony rides, which had more than 400 visitors, she said. One of the most heavily visited farms of the day this year — and in years past — was Empire Buffalo in Fenner.
Bob Thorp, owner of Thorp Apiary, said he participated for his second time this year. Last year, he had about 650 people visit his honey business on Lincklaen Road in Cazenovia. By 2 p.m. this year, he said, the number of visitors was equally high. “We’ve had a lot of people coming through,” he said. “It’s a lot of good exposure for us; and people get to taste the honey.”
Bob, along with his wife and daughters, showed visitors how they harvest and bottle the honey, had informational exhibits out about honeybees and honey creation as well as offering honey tastings.
Vince Wagner, owner of Ju-Vindale Holsteins, also had a great day. “It’s been busy!” he said.
This was the second time in three years that Ju-Vindale, which sells fresh, raw milk from their Ballina Road farm in Cazenovia, participated in Open Farm Day. Wagner said he hopes the event helps increase his business, but more than that he likes the way visitors get a chance to learn where their food comes from and what farm-fresh products really are.
As Wagner talked about farming and agriculture in his calf barn, behind him Alyssa German-Skelton, of Syracuse, was squatting by a calf pen, getting her hand and arm licked profusely by a calf. “This is exactly how I wanted to spend my afternoon!” said German-Skelton, who loves cows, and laughed with a huge smile on her face.
More information on Open Farm Day and all things agricultural in Madison County can be found on the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County website atmadisoncountycce.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.