More than two dozen Madison County farms opened their doors to the public over the weekend for Open Farm Day hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extenstion to give poeple a chance to meet local farmers, learn where their food comes from and experience what it’s like on a farm.
“The biggest part of this is bringing that awareness and education to the fantastic agricultural local products we have in this county,” said Melissa Davis, CCE Agricultural Economic Development specialist. “A lot of kids that maybe don't understand the agricultural life, and don't understand where their food is coming from so this is a really big day to just be like, this is where your food comes from.”
Davis also hopes that this event shows kids the jobs that are available in agriculture.
“I can imagine there are some high school or middle school kids thinking this is a cool life, this is something I want to do when I grow up,” said Davis.
With 26 farms participating, there was a variety of farms for people to visit. They had the opportunity to purchase goods directly from farmers including locally produced longhorn beef, buffalo meat, vegetables, eggs, maple syrup and more.
Ada Yoder and her husband, James Yoder, operate Local Roots near Cazenovia. They raise chickens, beef cattle, and produce maple syrup, vegetables, pastured eggs and strawberries. They participated in Open Farm Day to meet new people and teach them about what they do on their farm.
“We hope they learn the difference between buying from a farmer's farm versus buying in the store, and we try to provide the knowledge to people that are interested in that,” said Ada Yoder.
Monica Cody, the CEO of Farmstead 1868, sells products that she makes from the lavender they grow and dairy products from their family-owned dairy. Cody said this is their first year participating in Open Farm Day. She was selling her products, and like many farmers, she has been impacted by supply chain issues and price increases.
“I had a hard time getting things like polyfilms and jars for my products so I had to be a little bit more creative on how to source those things,” said Cody. “And then shipping has totally impacted me because I do most of my sales direct to consumers, and so even with the small changes, I've seen a hit to those kinds of things.”
One of the farms open to the public on Saturday was Albanese Longhorns owned by Mike Albanese. Jason Hartline who runs operations and ranch management said they chose to participate because they want people to be exposed to the world of longhorns.
The farm sells grass-fed, organic beef that comes from the longhorns. In order to sell the meat, they have to use a USDA-approved processing facility. These facilities were extremely backed up in 2020 making it difficult for farmers to get dates for processing their animals, but Hartline says it has improved.
“Since 2020, there has been a large issue with processing, but it has slowed down since then, and we're able to get processing dates a lot faster and more consistent than what we used to,” said Hartline.
However, they still call a year in advance to reserve their processing dates with these facilities.
Supporting local farmers keeps the profit they make within Madison County, organizers said.
“The more money that is spent here, the more that the infrastructures and the different things in the county can put money back into the towns,” said Davis. “We want to keep the families here, we want to keep the economy growing, and the more you can support local, the more that people can stay and they don't have to move away to find other jobs. Agriculture is the backbone of our society, without agriculture, nothing happens.”