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EYE ON BUSINESS: Adirondack Harvest connects local farms and vendors

May 10, 2019
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer (gkelly@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Adirondack Harvest, a community organization that advocates for agriculture in the North Country, held a meet and greet at Big Slide Brewery & Public House Wednesday, May 1. The goal was to facilitate communication between local farmers and restaurants.

Dan Rivera is the president of Adirondack Harvest. He also operates a bakery at Triple Green Jade Farm in Willsboro. He thinks communication and business relationships between local farms and vendors is increasing in the North Country through the help of Adirondack Harvest, but there's also a lot more that can be done.

"This event that we're having at Big Slide is just one - Essex County does have a nice, growing local food movement happening - but we definitely want to see events like these replicated in our other seven counties.

Article Photos

From left Laurie Davis, Dan Rivera and Carly Summers of Adirondack Harvest pose at a meet and greet for farmers and local vendors at Big Slide Brewery & Public House in Lake Placid Wednesday, May 1.
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

"No one's going to be able to purchase 100% local just based on our climate. It's snowing right now. But we want to get restaurants and cafes an all those kinds of establishments to get something local on the menu, and then that farm can promote the restaurant, and there's a nice symbiotic thing happening."

Jeff Van Arsdale of Cedar Hedge Farm in Lowville is relatively new to the industry. He and his wife opened their farm about five years ago where they raise goats and produce feta and chevre cheese.

"The dairy farm that we have, my wife grew up on when it was a cow dairy," he said. "When her parents passed away, we took over the farm and decided to try dairy goats because it's a little bit smaller operation than pushing cows around. We initially started milking them for our own use, and that expanded into retail products."

Despite his product coming from animals, Van Arsdale still works on a seasonal basis like most vegetable and fruit farmers.

"We look at fresh cheese like a tomato; it's only good in season as opposed to something you buy packaged at the store. Our goats are seasonal producers. For us, our cheese season goes from right about now, May 1, to Christmas time. The goats all dry off and get a rest."

Van Arsdale started working with Adirondack Harvest for the past three years, and in that time, he said he's been able to get his product out to more vendors.

"Through Adirondack Harvest, I was able to make contact with a chef in the Old Forge area, and because our relationship with Adirondack Harvest, he was interested in trying our products on his menu.

"Primarily we deal with health food stores. For example, they carry our cheese at Nature's Storehouse in Canton and the Potsdam Food Co-op."

Van Arsdale said he has a fair amount of clients he sells to in Lewis County, and he attended the meet and greet because he would like to expand his product into Franklin and Essex counties.

The meet and greet wasn't just for people looking to sell their meat, produce and cheeses.

Tina Ballar was there representing Mossbrook Roots Flower Farm in Keeseville. She said restaurants often buy their flowers for centerpieces and aesthetic garnishes, but they also carry a variety of edible flowers such as chamomile, dill, gladiolus and lavender.

Working in a restaurant and reaching out to multiple farms for inventory could seem daunting, but Zach Jackson, who cooks at the Deer's Head Inn in Elizabethtown, doesn't find it much of a challenge.

"They tend to reach out to you most of the time and have great products," he said.

Jackson buys from local farms such as Fledging Crow in Keeseville, Juniper Hill Farm in Wadhams and Blue Pepper Farm in Jay. The list goes on he said.

"It can be difficult keeping track of multiple farms in the summertime, especially when your busy cooking a lot of food, but you always make time, and the farms always make time for you."

Because crops and other farm products go in and out of season, restaurants who by mainly from local farms have to change their menus accordingly. Jackson said he changes his menu about four times a year and serves specials that reflect the season. This could be an obstacle for some restaurants in regard to customers who like to eat the same thing whenever the stop by, but Jackson thinks otherwise.

"I think as long as you keep it fresh, keep it local, keep it interesting and keep it good, people will come back and enjoy it," he said.

 
 

 

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