2013-07-21 Register Star


Friends of the Farmer Festival puts farming first

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013 12:30 am | Updated: 12:22 am, Thu Jul 25, 2013.
By Arthur Cusano Columbia-Greene Media | 1 comment

COPAKE — After torrential rains bogged down last year’s event, this year’s Friends of the Farmer Festival in Copake went off without a hitch.

The third annual festival, held at the Copake Country Club, was once again sponsored by the Farm On! Foundation. Founder Tessa Edick said the foundation is aimed at promoting agriculture among youth in order to ensure that there will be farmers for generations to come.

“The average farmer is 60 years old, so if we don’t make viable livelihoods in our communities with economic development, then commerce will stop and there will be no succession,” Edick said.  “If young people can’t make money, they can’t take to farming.

“The festival celebrates Hudson Valley Food and the farmers that make it,” Edick said. “Once you have a relationship with the person that makes your food, you eat differently.”

The event also featured a performance from Lukas Nelson and his band Promise of the Real, which was being sponsored by Copake resident and supporter John Varvatos.

“Willie and Lucas Nelson are doing John Varvatos’ new ad campaign and it’s about raising your replacement, so it makes sense for us,” Edick said.

Among the local farmers on hand were David Davenport and his wife Karen. The two were representing AgriMark, a dairy farmer co-operative that has about 600 members in New England and another 600 in New York State. The group’s most famous product is the award-winning Cabot cheese line.

“The best thing is that it’s owned by the farmers, so when it makes a profit, the farmers make a profit,” Davenport said.

The Davenports are also part of Hudson Valley Fresh, which provides dairy products across the area.

“It’s mainly AgriMark members in southern Columbia and Dutchess Counties and one outside Kingston. We buy our milk back from the co-op and use what we need to make Hudson Valley Fresh milk and yogurt.”

Keeping local farmers in business is important, Davenport said, especially in a state like New York where farming is expensive.

“Agriculture is the root of civilization,” Davenport said. “People have to eat, and we’re not going to be importing food from china because they have enough mouths to feed.”

Not all the vendors on hand were dairy-based. The Manhattan-based GuS (Grown up Soda) company was on hand giving out samples of their all-natural line of soft drinks.

GuS promoter Andrew Garchik said his sodas, which have no additives and low sugar, were a good fit for such an event.

“This is an area where we aren’t so popular like in Manhattan where we are everywhere,” he said, “so this is a great opportunity to get this product to new people.”

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