Community. Commerce. Sustainability. Succession.
The 4th Annual Friends of the Farmer Festival at Empire Farm in Copake, NY delivered on its promise to unite sustainable farming, education, community and local businesses in one fun-filled day.
2,300 people attended the event curated and hosted by the Culinary Partnership at Tessa Edick’s direction to benefit the 501c3 non-profit organization and public charity, FarmOn! Foundation. With vendors from various regions in NY, CT and MA, volunteers, and celebrity supporters, the event aimed to bring one collective discussion of food education, sustainable living and farm preservation to the forefront of the eat local conversation.
Many New York state farms supported locally by sponsors and vendors from TasteNY, Harney & Sons, Whole Foods Market, Applegate, Chobani, Cabot, Sauerkraut Seth, Hawthorne Valley Farm, Chatham Brewing Co., Harvest Spirits, Hillrock Estate Distillery, Manhattan Milk, Ed Herrington Inc., Herrington Fuels, Hudson Valley Harvest and more were in attendance, educating visitors about their products and philosophies.
High school agriculture teacher, Christie Hegarty, was there with students highlighting the enrichment Taconic Hills High School seeks to provide for students in partnership with the FarmOn! Foundation. “Our three main focuses are teaching students where food actually comes from, how to prepare it, and giving resources to students seeking a career or future in agriculture,” said Hegarty, which is the mission of the foundation – Succession on family farms.
“What most people don’t know is that only two percent of jobs in agriculture are in production. The rest are in marketing, communications, sustainability, etc. We also talk about universities, such as Cornell, that have great agriculture programs and the educational work and support provided by FarmOn!” Hegarty concluded.
For guests there were samples of milk, yogurt, fresh local fruit and vegetables, local bourbon, beer, pasta sauce, pesto, cheese, and more cheese. The atmosphere was filled with energy coming from farmers, families, vendors, visitors, and libation creators alike. While the tagline “If you ate today, thank a farmer” rang loudly around the gorgeous setting and reminded us all you are what you eat.
Oliva Provisions founders Annette Chambers and Sarah Clymer were stay-at-home moms before beginning their foray into creating some of the most delicious pesto you’ve ever had in your life. “We were buying these tubs of pesto from super markets and thinking ‘Someone has to make something fresher and better than this’.” So, they did, and it’s completely local and organic. The opportunity to get their products in front of those who seek them was one of the reasons the festival appealed so much to them – and the connection to Whole Foods Market nearby Albany store.
A ribbon cutting ceremony of FarmOn! at Empire Farm to support succession on family farms and edible education launching the new victory garden was hosted and emceed by chef, author, philanthropist and farm activist Alice Waters. Alongside dairy farmers Ronny Osofsky of Ronnybrook Farm Dairy, Jim and Karen Davenport of Tollgate Farm (award winning producers of milk for Cabot and Hudson Valley Fresh products), as well as organic greens farmer Ted Dobson of Equinox Farm Berkshires, organic grass-fed livestock farmer Jeremy Peele of Herondale Farm and farmer Erich McEnroe of McEnroe Organic Farm, who raises vegetables and animals organically as well as processing sustainable soil at a farm in nearby Millerton.
There were new faces like Common Hands Farm specializing in fruits and vegetables and community sustainable agriculture, recognizable brands like Applegate, Cabot and Chobani, and volunteers vigorously working to run a smooth operation. They succeeded.
Next time you’re wondering why, how and where your food comes from, remember our farmers – Edick refers to as “Starmers” and continues “They are the real rock stars in food and work hard to feed us well!” And if you ever need a reminder, be sure to mark Friends of the Farmer Festival or any of the impactful and cool FarmOn! events on your calendar to do for next year. For information and events: farmonfoundation