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Event samples the diversity of area farms ADVERTISEMENT

Event samples the diversity of area farms

Got food? Thank a farmer.
This coming weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24 and 25, you'll have an opportunity to do just that on the third annual Farm Tour Weekend. Nine farms in Schuyler and Yates County, representing a variety of agricultural products and styles are opening their doors to visitors, with the farmers ready to answer questions, let you get up close and personal with some of their animals, and give you a capsule experience of the farming life. There are actually a dozen farms participating, but a few are buddying up to offer more than one product at one location.
There are no entrance fees, and several farms are offering free, informative tours. A few places, like Sunset View Creamery in Odessa, are also offering special events like a class in hand-milking, and cow-cuddling, for which there is a charge, and a request that prospective participants sign up in advance. Many places will have produce, snacks, and other products available for tasting and sale.
Organizer Marissa Nolan of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County, who is the county's Composting, Horticulture and Small Farms Educator, says she's hoping locals as well as tourists will experience the rich bounty of the farms we have almost in our back yards. "People forget we have a huge, vibrant farming community," she says. "And farming is the biggest part of the economy in New York state."
One stop not often considered a farm is the Arnot Teaching and Research Forest, (County Route 13, Van Etten) where Cornell University's state-of-the-art Maple Lab will be open to the public - something that doesn't happen often. It's a chance to learn how maple products can be made using 21st-century technology.
Shtayburne Farm Creamery on Chase Road in Rock Stream will be open on Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - they're closed on Sundays. Visitors will be able to walk around, pet cows, and view the cheese processing facility, which can be seen from the sales room where cheese and ice cream are available. Homemade mac-and-cheese made from Shtayburne's milk and cheese will also be served that day. Co-owner and cheesemaker Lance Hostetler says he's hoping people will see where their food comes from. "We're trying to fill out the link between the farmer and the consumer," he says.
Apples and Moore, formerly Reisinger's Apple Country off Ellison Road in Watkins Glen, will have u-pick apples, raspberries and flowers, as well as pumpkins, mums, preserves and donuts. Watkins Glen-based Seneca Sunrise Coffee will also have its own roasted blends of coffee available there.
As the owners of two alpaca farms on the tour--Russell's Alpaca Acres in Burdett and Four Seasons Alpacas in Dundee--can tell you, being a farmer goes well beyond raising food. And they're especially geared-up to do this because this is also National Alpaca Weekend.
"Many people think of farming as produce and dairy cows," says Brett Wicker, an owner of Four Seasons Alpacas on Six Corners Road in Dundee. "And wineries and breweries. Not to put anyone down, but there's so much more to agriculture."
For Wicker, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the Farm Tour is the chance to educate more people about alpacas. He wants the visitors to his farm to enjoy the relaxing softness of his animals, and if they find themselves falling in love with the breed and wanting to learn more, he's happy to answer questions, though learning in-depth about raising these animals probably warrants a return visit.
Four Seasons will also be hosting two other farms--Bartlett Farms, which raises beef and pork as well as producing maple syrup, and Sunflower Dairy, a goat farm specializing in goat milk soaps and lotions. Products from all three farms will be available during the farm tours here.
Locally-grown seasonal produce and handcrafts are available at opened-this-year Yesterday's Roots produce market on Route 14 between Rock Stream Winery and Fulkerson Winery. "I'm excited about the farm tour and was super-excited to participate," says owner Casey Swearington. "We have great farms in our area and a lot of people with talent." Yesterday's Roots will offer tasting samples during the tour. Swearington says she's happy to put visitors in touch with the farmers and producers of the work she carries.
Visit as many or as few farms as you wish but be warned--afterward you might not look at your full plate as you did before! Learn more about the event, download the Farm Tour App or read more at

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