2012-07-29 Register Star


Be careful what you wish for

Rain fails to dampen farmers' benefit

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2012 1:00 am
By Trevor Alford 

COPAKE LAKE — On July 28 people came out in droves to help support local farmers, and have a good time doing it. The Farm On! Friends of the Farmer event, held at the Copake Country Club, brought out crowds who braved early morning downpours that didn’t dampen any spirits.

A commonly expressed sentiment at the event was that at least the farmers were able to get some much needed rain, which has been in short supply recently.

“The weather is something that makes me want to burst into tears,” said Tessa Edick, the founder of Friends of the Farmer, “because all I’ve done is wish for the rain for the farmers in this drought, so I guess I’ve self-sabotaged, but the rain is the friend of the farmer too.”

“The farmers all need it so I doubt that they’ll be complaining,” said Steven Chickery, an attendee, who is the president of Hudson Valley Office Furniture.

This is the second year that this event has taken place. Edick said she started putting the event together the November after the first Farm On! event. This year, the festival involved twice as many vendors and sponsors as last year.

Edick said there were 80 vendors and 40 farms brought on board.

All this to encourage buying food locally from regional farms, and to benefit a farm scholarship, which Edick hopes will keep children of farmers interested in continuing on the family business.

“It’s about the future of farming, the story is succession,” Edick said, later adding that “no one wants to go into a field that doesn’t make money. If we start spending our money in these areas then we’re going to have viable livelihoods.”

Proceeds from this event, and from the previous night’s Hootenanny, which brought in 275 diners and was sold out, are going toward a scholarship to help farmers’ children learn the family trade at university. The event also was designed to bring in more interest in eating locally, which would enable those young farmers to come back and make a good living on the family farm.

“That makes for commerce, commerce makes viable livelihoods and then the kids can take over these family farms,” Edick said.

There were multi-generational farmers showing off their goods at this event.

Ken Zuckerman, who represented Pete & Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs, was at a booth and partnered with Carole Murka from Heirloom Meals. Zuckerman said the match was perfect, because it was the meeting of a recipe passed on through four generations and a flock which has been bred through five generations.

The Pete & Gerry Farm model puts them in partnership with other family farms which gives them the ability to compete with the larger farms. Pete & Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs can count 35 family farms in its service. Using the heirloom eggs, Murka put together a crepe using her great-grandmother’s recipe.

Another multi-generational farmer on hand at this event was Ronny Osofsky. He and his brother Rick run Ronnybrook Farm, which they grew up on. The dairy has been in Osofsky’s family for three generations.

“We pride ourselves on the way we take care of our cows, and invite people to come to the farm,” Osofsky said.

He was at the event with milk, chocolate milk, yogurt, yogurt drink and butter made on his farm, with his cows.

Despite the theme, not every vendor at the event was a farmer. Throughout the tents people were selling scarves, ceramics, art and jewelry in addition to farm staples. There were also celebrity-painted picnic tables for sale, although most of them had been sold off the previous night.

One young woman, Cydney Chasky, was selling jewelry she made from keyboards and old vinyl records, an idea she got from a class she took on recyclable art while studying at Florida Gulf Coast University.

There was a fishing demonstration, a goose-herding demonstration and a puppet show put on for the kids. For the adults, Chatham Brewing was offering its award-winning beer and many other wines and spirits were available.

Between 60 and 75 volunteers staffed the event, and stuck around through pouring rain.

“Everybody who was here last year came back,” said Melissa Williamson, who was helping run the front admission desk. Williamson had nothing but kind words for Edick who she credits with all the success of the Farm On! events, saying “she is such a good soul.”

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