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SAVOR THE SEASON: Celebrating the Adirondack harvest

September 21, 2018
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

WESTPORT - When it comes to the term "autumn eats," most of the people the Lake Placid News interviewed at the third annual Adirondack Harvest Festival turned to locally grown cucurbits or gourds.

"Squash, pumpkins," said Cynthia Johnston, the former Keene Central School superintendent who owns/operates the DaCy Meadow Farm in Westport. She raises heritage cattle, pigs and oxen.

"Pumpkin, winter squash, pies, apples," said Hannah Collins, owner/operator of Wildflora Provisions in Keene Valley. She makes nutrient-dense, allergen-friendly snacks and treats such as fudge, granola and brownies.

Article Photos

Cynthia Johnston of the DaCy Meadow Farm poses for a photo at her tent Sept. 15 during the Adirondack Harvest Festival at the Essex County Fairgrounds in Westport.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

Many autumn eats were on display Saturday afternoon, Sept. 15, when more than 50 vendors - and hundreds of guests - packed the Essex County Fairgrounds for the Adirondack Harvest Festival.

Most vendors were food and drink producers from Essex County, and their bounty was on full display for tastings and purchases - a wide variety of fruits and vegetables such as onions, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, leeks, radishes and eggplant. There was locally raised meat and makers of local cheese, sunflower oil, desserts, snacks, bread, pickled products, cut flowers, beer and spirits, and more.

In addition to the beer tent, there were food vendors out of food trucks (Northern Feast and Lomeli's Mexican Food) and pizza from Full Cord Pizza's wood-fired oven. Dessert - mostly in the form of ice cream - was provided by DaCy Meadow Farm, 4-H and the Parker Family Farm.

Bluegrass, western swing and honky tonk music was provided by Alice's Fault, Ploughman's Lunch and the Steady Benders. Draft horse wagon rides were provided by Country Dreams Farm.

Inside the Floral Hall, farm demonstrations were held all afternoon. Mary Heald, of Sylvanbrook Spinnery, gave a flax processing and spinning demonstration. Roger Hastings showed his sheep-shearing skills on a sheep called Zsa Zsa Gabor before Caroline Thompson showed people how to spin the wool. Tim Garry, of Boquet Valley Farm & Apiaries, gave a talk on raising bees. Dan Rivera, of Triple Green Jade Farm, gave a slide show presentation on how he financed and built his own wood-fired oven. Andy Wekin gave a cider-pressing demonstration. Trish Best, a Cornell Cooperative Extension master gardener, gave a talk on how to use up an abundance of zucchini by sharing three recipes (with tastings) of chocolate cake, zucchini pie and zucchini bread. Jess Wimett, of Small Town Cultures in Lake Placid, gave a presentation about vegetable fermentation.

At the end of the afternoon, North Country Public Radio reporter David Sommerstein moderated a panel discussion titled "Growing the Local Food Movement in the Champlain Valley." Four people took part in the panel: Cynthia Johnston, co-owner of the DaCy Meadow Farm in Westport; Dan Rivera, co-owner of the Triple Green Jade Farm in Willsboro; Jori Wekin, director and co-founder of The Hub on the Hill commercial kitchen in Essex; and Brittany Christenson, executive director of ADK Action who established the Farmacy at the Keeseville Pharmacy.

Farmers such as Johnston look forward to the autumn bounty every year.

"That's probably the best time of the year for the farm because everything is in harvest," she said.

In addition to raising heritage cattle - Dexter, Scottish Highland and Belted Galloways - DaCy Meadows Farm offers a unique farm-to-table dining experience, family-style, in its intimate art gallery.

"We grow all of our own meat, and then we buy from local farmers within a 50-mile radius of us," Johnston said. "We try not to duplicate what they do well, so if they are great veggie farmers, we buy from them instead of trying to reproduce it ourselves."

Johnston's philosophy about locally produced products mirrored the theme of the Adirondack Harvest Festival. It's not just about celebrating the harvest and consuming natural foods.

"The closer you can get, the more nutritious, the better for the economy," she said. "It builds a community. And that's all important."



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