2015-07-11 modern farmer

Celebrating Hudson Valley Farms at the HOOT!

By Tessa Edick on July 11, 2015

FarmOn! Foundation Founder Tessa Edick with Guests Ed Keuster, Kristopher Kelly, Stephen Mack, Brian Schaefer

Small farms mean big business in New York State. Agriculture contributed $37.6 billion to the state’s economy in 2012 (the latest numbers available), an increase of more than 22% from 2007. More than 98% of those farms are family owned.

Sounds like a pretty picture. But, unfortunately, family farming in the Hudson Valley is not quite the vision of sun-faded red barns, fat grass-fed cows and rosy-cheeked farmers that those numbers evoke. While 56,000 New Yorkers operated farms at last count, and the value of agricultural commodity sales and farm acreage increased from 2007 to 2012, the number of New York farms and farmers declined.

And with the average age of farmers hovering around 55 and more than half of New York farms reporting sales below $10,000 a year, the Empire State is in danger of losing the very people who once built, and now feed and nourish our beautiful bucolic kingdom.

Five years ago, I founded the FarmOn! Foundation with the goal of preserving family farming in my backyard. Before launching the nonprofit, I founded a food product development company and learned first-hand that responsible, sustainable, small-scale farmers are the most under-recognized, under-utilized and underpaid people in the food world. I discovered that we need to source from them directly and pay them a fair living wage for our food – otherwise the whole system collapses.

FarmOn! is a movement and collaboration of professional farmers, educators, influencers, supporters, nutritionists, students, and community leaders invested in the future of local agriculture and supporting local economies. FarmOn! Foundation creates and funds youth educational programming to reinvigorate respect for farming, inspire young people to choose agricultural careers and create an economic engine connecting rural and urban marketplaces to rebuild local economies.

On July 18th, our annual benefit dinner, called the Hootenanny! celebrates local farming and helps fund our important programming, is being held at our new location in Copake in Columbia County, New York. Executive Chef Jonathan Wright of the iconic Rainbow Room, who will host this year’s HOOT! benefit dinner, is cooking a family-style meal sourced from local food and libations from 50-plus family farms in the Hudson Valley. The HOOT! dinner is a farm fresh commitment to celebrate our foundation’s fifth anniversary and showcase the fresh local bounty of the Hudson Valley in an authentic farm-to-table dinner on our newly acquired farm – aptly named Empire farm.

Smoked, slow-roasted grass-fed meat, seasonal organic vegetables prepared dozens of ways, fire-poached fruit, organic grains, Hudson Valley dairy, cheeses and provisions that define responsibly crafted honest eating, complete with fruit of the moment desserts.

Mooooove over meatpalooza, these farmers are providing protein raised just down the road 3 miles from your plate as Chef Wright plays with fire for the perfect flavor.

Do your know where your food is from?

Find out. Come and join us at the farm for an epic farm dinner, live music, a farmer’s market, auction and family fun that will help fund our Ag Academy, school Milk Money program and school Victory Gardens. Check out the menu, buy tickets and find out more at farmonfoundation.org.

This article is brought to you by FarmOn!

Copyright © 2015 modern farmer