Tag: farming

Ag IN YOUR BAG: LOCAL LOVES THE RESILIENT HONEYBEE

FAF_Blog_DotBar Ag IN YOUR BAG: LOCAL LOVES THE RESILIENT HONEYBEE

Ag IN YOUR BAG

LOCAL LOVES THE RESILIENT HONEYBEE

bee-on-flower Ag IN YOUR BAG: LOCAL LOVES THE RESILIENT HONEYBEE
Honeybees are heroes. They’re the only insects that produce food for humans. Honeybees—distinct from bees native to the U.S.—came from Europe in the early 1600s. Prized initially for their sweet honey, in time, they became known for pollinating crops. With their social structure, honeybees are easy for farmers to manage, moving colonies around from field to field to support their agricultural needs.

Many Central California farmers rely heavily on honeybees to pollinate crops because there are few remaining habitats for native bees. In the Northeast, however, fields and orchards are often surrounded by plants, so native bees have plenty to eat and pollinate crops as they buzz from hedgerow to hedgerow. In a 2009 study of 11 apple farms in New York State, researchers counted 81 species of native bees.

Still, many larger farms rely on honeybees. So it was alarming when, about a decade ago, beekeepers began reporting disappearing honeybee hives. Previous plagues had left dead bees, but this time the worker bees abandoned the queen and her brood. Even when a colony is left with reserves of honey, it quickly dies off without worker bees. This phenomenon became known as colony collapse disorder or CCD.

In 2008, two years after CCD was discovered, the number of honeybee colonies hit its lowest point at 2.4 million. Happily, a queen bee lays 1500 to 2000 eggs a day, making honeybees one of the most resilient species on earth. With about 2.7 million colonies in the U.S. today, honey bees are making a slow comeback, though the causes of CCD remain unclear. Scientists continue to study a variety of factors including the interplay of pesticides, mites, and other pests.

So exactly how much effort goes into making honey? Worker bees must fly 55,000 miles and visit 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey, and the average colony makes 60 to 100 pounds a year. No wonder they’re called worker bees.

This small but mighty creature plays such a crucial role in our food system…and in making our Local Honey Yogurt and Local Honey Kefir so delicious.

OUR FARMERS: A Day In The Life Of Father-Son Team DON & SETH McEACHRON

FAF_DonSeth_Portrait-e1489694702407 OUR FARMERS: A Day In The Life Of Father-Son Team DON & SETH McEACHRON

BATTENKILL VALLEY CREAMERY

Don and Seth McEachron, 4th & 5th generation farmers, are the father-son owners and operators of Battenkill Valley Creamery in Salem, New York. In 2010 and 2016, the McEachrons won Cornell’s top prize for the highest-quality, freshest, and best tasting milk in New York. Knowing that award-winning milk starts with happy, healthy cows, Don and Seth set the standard for sustainable farming and proper animal treatment. The McEachrons have been dairy farming in the Battenkill Valley region for over a century. Today, their herd numbers 350 cows of mixed breed Holsteins, Jersey, and Holstein-Jersey crossbreeds for higher butterfat content, on 1,000 acres of land.

Click to enlarge the photos below and walk through a day in the life of Don & Seth McEachron.

OUR FARMERS: A Day In The Life Of JAKE SAMASCOTT

 

OUR FARMERS

A Day In The Life Of JAKE SAMASCOTT

14-1001_5AF_8871_HA_NP OUR FARMERS: A Day In The Life Of JAKE SAMASCOTT

SAMASCOTT ORCHARDS, Kinderhook, New York, has been our valued partner since the start, supplying apples for FIVE ACRE FARMS Local Apple Cider and Local Apple Juice. The Samascott family has been farming in the Hudson Valley since the 1900’s and perfecting apples since the 1940’s. Cousins and 4th-generation farmers Jake and Bryan Samascott, alongside their siblings, grow more than 70 apple varieties, picked when they are perfectly ripe.[/vc_column_text]

Click to enlarge the photos below and walk through a day in the life of Jake Samascott.

LOCAL FOOD MEETS THE MAINSTREAM: A CONVERSATION WITH FOUNDER & CEO DAN HORAN

FAF_Blog_DotBar LOCAL FOOD MEETS THE MAINSTREAM: A CONVERSATION WITH FOUNDER & CEO DAN HORAN

LOCAL FOOD MEETS THE MAINSTREAM:

A CONVERSATION WITH FOUNDER & CEO DAN HORAN

HNW_5984_Comp_NP LOCAL FOOD MEETS THE MAINSTREAM: A CONVERSATION WITH FOUNDER & CEO DAN HORAN
DAN HORAN founded FIVE ACRE FARMS in 2010 to keep farmers farming and expand access to the region’s best local food. In this interview, he offers his perspective on the company’s mission, its work to bring local food into the mainstream and what it means to be Positively Local®.

How does Five Acre Farms define local food?

The way we look at it, local is about more than just distance. Local means knowing where our food comes from and what practices and processes were used along the way. It means paying farmers fairly to support their responsible farming and business practices. Local means growing the region’s economy and actively participating in the community. It means restoring the connection between farmer and consumer. We like to call this being “Positively Local®”.

What distance is considered local? Is it 50 miles—or 500?

Some people say 50 miles. Others say 500. Under the federal food safety law, local food is produced within 275 miles of where it’s sold. We think that makes sense for the Northeast, though to us, mileage is just one aspect of local. So much goes into growing, processing and distributing food that it’s more realistic to think of that effort as regional rather than going on only within the borders of your own state.

How do you select your participating farmers?

We travel around the Northeast, meeting with farmers and introducing ourselves, FIVE ACRE FARMS and how we work. Once we identify a prospective partner, we make a number of farm visits and learn about their farming practices and processes. We take our time to make sure that we have the shared vision and goals needed for a successful partnership.

Isn’t the farmers’ market the place to buy local food?

I love farmers’ markets. Having started my career as an organic farmer, I learned my first lessons in sales at farmers’ markets and always encourage people to buy directly from farmers. I also believe in keeping farmers farming by making their products more broadly available to consumers. FIVE ACRE FARMS helps farmers get into the mainstream, beginning at the supermarket—where Americans spend the most time food shopping.

Is it possible to buy local food year-round?

While it can be a challenge to buy local all year long, you should be able to get local milk and eggs throughout the year regardless of where you live. Take advantage of that to buy the freshest milk and eggs you can get your hands on. You’ll taste the difference. Other possibilities will vary by region. In the Northeast, where I live, I can buy local apples and root vegetables year-round.

How can I make sure that my neighborhood supermarket carries local food?

Hopefully, you’re noticing more and more local tags and labels in your store. If not, ask the store manager to buy local. Be sure to mention specific local items that you and your family like. Give the store leads by telling them about your favorite area farms. In my experience, grocery stores appreciate and respond quickly to this kind of input. If your store already has a local buying program, applaud its efforts, help spread the word and offer feedback.

There are so many products and claims out there. What’s your advice for making good choices when shopping local in the grocery store?

The key is to know your sources as much as possible. Start with a couple of items, and learn where they come from, who makes them and exactly how they’re handled. If you know the farmer, then you’re well on your way to being able to make a good decision. Sometimes information about the source is purposely hidden from you, and you’ll be able to tell when that’s the case. Knowing that we all lead busy lives, FIVE ACRE FARMS tries to make things simple. When you see our label, you know where your food comes from. You know that it’s local, delicious and healthy. You know that, because we vet our farms carefully, the farmers who produced it treat their animals properly, care for their farmland and groundwater and conserve energy. We do the legwork for you.

Where can I find Five Acre Farms outside the grocery store?

Our focus has always been, as we sometimes put it, bringing the farmers market to the supermarket. We’re also finding a wealth of opportunities to build on that focus by being the local solution in other places as well—like, for example, coffee shops and restaurants, including the new Kellogg’s NYC cereal café in Times Square. We even have local flying at 35,000 feet, where our products are used by UNION SQUARE EVENTS in creating in-flight menus for DELTA. We’re bringing local food into the mainstream where it should be, making it part of our everyday lives.

Ag IN YOUR BAG: WHAT’S IN YOUR LOCAL CIDER (and not…) THIS SEASON

FAF_Blog_DotBar Ag IN YOUR BAG: WHAT'S IN YOUR LOCAL CIDER (and not...) THIS SEASON

Ag IN YOUR BAG

agriculture noun: the science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, raising crops, and breeding, and raising livestock; farming.

14-0929_5AF_5458_NP2-e1489699385898 Ag IN YOUR BAG: WHAT'S IN YOUR LOCAL CIDER (and not...) THIS SEASON

WHAT’S IN YOUR LOCAL CIDER (and not…) THIS SEASON:

Apple_Icon Ag IN YOUR BAG: WHAT'S IN YOUR LOCAL CIDER (and not...) THIS SEASONLearn what distinguishes this year’s early apples
Apple_Icon Ag IN YOUR BAG: WHAT'S IN YOUR LOCAL CIDER (and not...) THIS SEASONWarm weather results in lighter color apples
Apple_Icon Ag IN YOUR BAG: WHAT'S IN YOUR LOCAL CIDER (and not...) THIS SEASONSparse rainfall makes for more sweetness

The next time you reach for a jug of FIVE ACRE FARMS apple cider, look for signs of variations in the apple harvest that naturally occur from year to year.

What’s distinctive about the early fall local apple harvest in the Northeast this year? Due to the unusually dry, warm weather of late summer and early fall, many apples in our region ripened before developing the deep red skin color we’re used to seeing. The lack of water also concentrates the fruit’s natural sugars, making this year’s cider apples especially sweet. The lighter complexion can be seen in many varieties with Macintosh being the best example. Macs, the traditional New England base for cider, are green apples that rely on crisp, cool nights and adequate moisture to develop their red color just before ripening. (To make our cider, we blend a base of Macs with up to 20 other varieties.) Happily, these climate-related fluctuations don’t change the great taste of our local apples, producing a sweet, crisp cider that’s as delicious as ever. And whether they’re deep red or a subtle pastel, local apples are the only ingredients in FIVE ACRE FARMS cider, with absolutely nothing added.