Thursday, December 18, 2014

Time is Running Out to Find that Perfect New York Christmas Tree

Only seven days (counting today) to get out and buy that fresh, New York-grown Christmas tree.

There are many Christmas tree farms throughout the state and buying local not only supports local farm businesses, it also assures you have the freshest tree possible. Fresh cut trees smell better and keep their needles longer.

“If purchased locally, and displayed properly with plenty of water, most real Christmas trees have excellent needle retention. Many of our customers report few or no needles on the floor after several weeks in their homes. While most people enjoy the aroma of our farm fresh trees, we also grow a fragrance-free variety that is a favorite with people with sensitive noses,” said Faye Beckwith from Beckwith Family Christmas Tree Station in Hannibal, Oswego County.

“Real Christmas trees are the best choice for both the environment and the economy. Real Christmas trees are a renewable and recyclable resource," she said. "They are grown as a crop, by local farmers who provide jobs for others. Trees are harvested and replenished annually. As they grow, real trees absorb harmful carbons and produce fresh oxygen. “

Buying a fresh and local Christmas tree is also a great bonding experience for families. 

“The experience of going to the farm to choose the perfect tree fosters family traditions and creates memories that last a lifetime," Beckwith said. "We have several four generation families who come annually to ride the tractor-drawn wagon to the fields - in search of the perfect tree.”          

To find a Christmas tree farmer near you, go to  

Then click on Real Trees at the top of the page and then go to Find a Tree.

New York Agricultural Society Meets Jan. 8

   The annual forum for the New York State Agricultural Society is set for Jan. 8 at the Holiday Inn in Salina, outside Syracuse.

Nearly 500 people are expected to attend. This year's forum theme is "Diversification for Success: Strategically Positioning You and Your Business for the Future."

Keynote speaker, Dr. David Kohl, will address a number of questions concerning diversification and  more, engaging forum attendees in a dynamic and informative program. He is professor emeritus of agriculture and applied economics at Virginia Tech and is known as “The Road Warrior of Agriculture,”having traveled almost 9 million miles and conducted more than 6,000 workshops for diverse agricultural audiences throughout his career.  

Following his keynote address, Kohl will moderate a discussion with several New York farmers who have their own unique diversification stories to share.

Other conference highlights include recognition of Businesses of the Year, Bicentennial and Century Farm Families, Agricultural Journalism Awards, FFA Chapter of the Year, Ag Promotion Awards, Farm Safety Recognition, and the Society’s lifetime of Distinguished Service Citation.  

All meals, breaks and reception feature New York produced food and beverages, and allow time for networking with exhibitors and attendees. Following the evening banquet, NYS Agriculture Commissioner, Richard Ball, will present the State of the State’s Agriculture Address.

All are invited to the New York State Agricultural Society’s Forum and special pre-forum events.  Early registration is strongly encouraged, and discount applies for registrations received before Dec. 19. 

For complete meeting details, visit: To register online, visit:

Officer, Directors Elected for New York Farm Bureau

Officers and board members were elected during the recent annual meeting of New York Farm Bureau in Rochester.

Dean Norton, who has been president of Farm Bureau for the past six years, was re-elected president for a fourth two-year term. The Norton family has owned Oak Orchard Dairy in Elba, Genbesee County, for five generations.

Eric Ooms, who operates a dairy farm in Chatham, Columbia County, was re-elected vice president. District Director races resulted in the re-elections of Ashur Terwilliger of Lowman, Chemung County, in District 4 and Dean Casey of Schaghticoke, Rensselaer County, in District 8.

New board members elected were Patrick McCormick of Java Center, Wyoming County, in District 2, Jake Schieferstine of Vernon, Oneida County, in District 6 and Chris Kelder of Accord, Ulster County, in District 10.

Phyllis Couture of West Valley, Cattaraugus County, was re-elected as the State Promotion and Education Committee chair and Nicole Rawleigh of Horseheads, Chemung County, was re-elected as the State Youth Farmer Committee chair.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy National Maple Syrup Day

Buckets capture sap from maple trees from the 2014 sugaring season.
Hey, everyone.

It's National Maple Syrup Day.

Celebrate with a stack of pancakes, some fluffy French toast or other maple convection for lunch or dinner. Or pour some maple syrup on ice cream for dessert or eat some maple candy.

What isn't good about maple -- so let's celebrate!!!!

New York Certfiied Organic to Talk Small Grains at Winter Meetings

The winter meetings for New York Certified Organic will be Jan. 13, Feb. 10 and March 10.

During these meetings, attendees will receive information to help grain and dairy farmers throughout the state.

The free New York Certified Organic meetings begin at 10 a.m. in the Jordan Hall auditorium at the state  Agricultural Experiment Station, 614 W. North St., Geneva.

The 2015 meetings will address a variety of topics including the increasing demand for NY-grown organic small grains.
Klaas Marten, a New York organic grain producer who also operates an organic grain mill in Penn Yan, will be among those discussing soil health for organic growers and the new Soil Renaissance Initiative that is drawing attention nationwide.

Additional topics for the meetings include why good forage quality is not a matter of luck and the perennial issue of weed control for organic crop growers.

The meetings also include question and answer session for brainstorming.

NYCO has received support funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute. 

"Forums such as those held by the New York Certified Organic group for more than 20 years now directly answer the needs and opportunities identified by the growers for critical attention," said Farm Viability Managing Director David Grusenmeyer.

Registration is not required; participants bring a dish to pass for the potluck lunch. For more details, contact Fay Benson at (607) 753-5213 or

Monday, December 15, 2014

Apple Harvest Didn't Meet Forecasted Numbers but Quality was Superb

The New York apple harvest for this year was good, with lots of great quality apples for people to enjoy.

New York Apple Association officials said growers throughout the state produced more varieties of apples, especially more of those consumers want, like Honeycrisp and Gala.

"That's in addition to producing the traditional New York state favorites such as McIntosh and Empire," said Julia Stewart, speaking for the apple association.

Exact numbers for the harvest will be available next year. Association President Jim Allen said

harvest numbers "will be less than 2013 and may not reach our five-year average of 28 million. But the quality is excellent and good size so that provides more fruit to market."

The 2013 harvest boasted a record of 32 million bushels of apples. The original harvest forecast for 2014 was 30 million, according to the apple association.

NYS Chosen to Participate in Farm-To-School Project

From the Associated Press:

New York is among eight states chosen to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's pilot project supporting the purchase of locally sourced produce by school lunch programs.

Rep. Chris Gibson, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, advocated for inclusion of the farm-to-school initiative in the federal Farm Bill. He said he'll work with farmers and educators in the Hudson Valley and Catskills to establish new farm-to-school partnerships in the coming year.

The state Office of General Services will administer the procurement project, which allows school districts to use a portion of their USDA Foods program funding to purchase unprocessed fruits and vegetables directly.

Other states participating are California, Connecticut, Michigan, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.