Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hammond: Not Your Average Farmers Market

The diversified and copious amount of crafts, along with a variety of seasonal produce, make Hammond a distinct market within St. Lawrence County. Every Wednesday from three to six pm, the Hammond Farmers andArtisans Market sets up on the lawn of the Hammond Historical Museum.

            At the market, one can quickly stock up on produce provided by Circle G, Deep Root, and Ennisbrooke Farms. Currently, customers can purchase zucchini, cucumbers, jam, honey, maple syrup, potatoes, blueberries, homemade bread, mushrooms, and greens. Other vendors were also contributing delicious pretzels and homemade baked goods.

While produce is a staple for any farmers market, what makes Hammond stand out from all the others are the artisan vendors. Wandering amongst the tents, you will find hand painted barn quilts, glassware, soaps, ceramics, and hand sewn quilts. There are multiple vendors that sell beautiful earrings, bracelets, and rings. Along with natural essential oils, bug deterrent, a natural “Kiss Me” mouthwash, and other holistic products provided by Thistle Essentials. Similarly, the Card Creations tent sells beautiful handmade cards for any type of occasion for just two dollars.  

This balance between crafts and produce make the Hammond Market a hidden attraction for anyone looking to go on an afternoon adventure.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


A new report finds SNAP participants are strongly connected to the labor force, but many experience changes in employment and labor force participation over the course of a year. In addition, many SNAP participants who are not employed face significant barriers to work. In April 2010, 41% of SNAP participants ages 18 to 59 were employed; most of the remaining participants were out of the labor force (46%) rather than unemployed (13%). Employed SNAP participants earned, on average, $1,250 per month before taxes and worked 40 hours per week. Nearly all employed participants (88%) worked one job; 10% worked at two jobs. SNAP participants who were not working faced a diverse set of barriers to employment. Many lacked significant recent work experience. More than two-thirds (68%) of had not worked in the past 18 months.

Source: Mathematica Policy Reports, 7/19/17, SNAP Work Data

Monday, July 24, 2017


The number of SNAP participants fell by 1.8 million people over the first seven months of FY 2017, nearly matching the decline over all 12 months of fiscal year 2016 (1.875 million). SNAP’s 41.6 million participants in April 2017, the most recent month for which data are available, are the fewest since mid-2010 and 13%, or 6.2 million, below the December 2012 peak. For the fourth straight year SNAP spending also continues to fall.  For the first nine months of this fiscal year, it was 4.3% below the same months last year, and almost 15% lower than the same months in 2013, when spending peaked. These declines are in nominal — not inflation-adjusted — dollars. The stronger economy likely explains most of the decline, though the return of the three-month time limit on certain unemployed childless adults also is a contributing factor. The Congressional Budget Office projects SNAP participation will continue falling 1 to 2% annually over the next decade, from 42 million people in 2017 to 32 million in 2027.

Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 7/19/17, SNAP Caseloads

Friday, July 21, 2017

Farmer Friday: Ober The Moon Goats

If you ran into Wendy Chapman at a grocery store you would struggle to find anything besides paper towels amongst other supplies in her cart. The Chapmans, of Ober the Moon Goats and Lay-Z Duck Farms have adopted a lifestyle and farm that seldom requires a need to gather food outside their property. Their animals and garden have allowed the Chapmans to take total agency over their diet. The meat, vegetables, eggs, cheese, herbs, even laundry detergent, found within the home of the Chapmans are products of their backyard.
One of the many goats of Ober The Moon
Goat cheese is a relatively new project that Wendy has taken on but has already gained positive recognition. “We eat it as fast as we make it”, she explains. The goats produce a gallon of milk a day, and she currently yields three to four pounds of cheese a week. Wendy only sells by the ounce, and has a waiting list of customers so long that the idea of having enough left over to sell at a farmers market is unfathomable. The three main types of goat cheese produced at Ober The Moon are Chevre, Mozzarella, and Ricotta Salata.
 Wendy did not grow up in an agrarian household; this project began just eight years ago as a result of frequenting farmers markets, engaging with local vendors, and becoming more informed on farming and our food system. Ober the Moon Goats and Lay-Z Ducks Farm were created from a domino effect of adopting more and more animals. First came the ducks, then the chickens, then the goats, and finally the turkeys. Both Wendy and her partner Phil have become educated through involvement with the Cornell Cooperative Extension and GardenShare, constant conversations with farmers about what works and what doesn’t, and participation with the LocalLiving Venture.
What is most unique about Wendy is her inability to give up on an animal because it has some type of birth fault, “I just love little heartbeats”, she explains. For years Wendy has been involved in animal rehab. On her property she introduced me to a turkey she keeps even though it was not accepted by its mother and a duck that seems to struggle with arthritis. Similarly, Wendy has taken in numerous crows and finches to care for and bring back to health.
Ducks bathing on Wendy's property
This tenderness found in Wendy is also evident in her hesitation to promote her products, “ I don’t want to get out there and step on anybody’s toes”. The farm in her backyard is making just enough profit to allow her to continue to buy animal feed, although she does point out that her family has been able to save money by relying on their backyard compared to grocery stores.
“I didn’t get in this business to get rich, just got in it to be healthy” says Wendy Chapman. In the future the Chapmans hope to raise pigs, continue to expand into their backyard, and hopefully dip their toes into the miniature cow business. The Chapmans do encourage customers to call ahead if interested in their cheese, chicken, eggs, herbs, and turkey products, and can be reached at (315) 705- 7935. 


The House Budget Committee has “marked up” its FY 2018 Budget Resolution, the first step in the budget process.  The “reconciliation” instructions on which the budget is based require $203 billion in mandatory spending through savings and reforms over 10 years. That includes likely SNAP cuts of $10 billion over 10 years, and apparently $1.6 billion/10 years in cuts from eliminating thousands of schools from the School Meal Community Eligibility Provision. The budget resolution, though, goes further, assuming $150 billion in SNAP reductions, which would kick in halfway through the decade, and $20 billion from Earned Income  and Child Tax credits. The committee’s budget blueprint “recommends focusing on reforms that will restore overall SNAP funding to sustainable levels, while still providing states the flexibility to tailor the program to best meet the needs of their SNAP-eligible populations.” It also calls for states to enforce SNAP work requirements to better ensure that public assistance transitions people to independence. The blueprint also proposes requiring verification of income before Earned Income Tax Credits are paid and using the resulting savings to eliminate tax penalties for marriage. In addition, the budget would require people seeking the refundable child tax credit to submit a Social Security number for each child in order to claim the credit.

House Budget Committee, 7/19/17, Budget Blueprint

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Volunteers needed at Campus Kitchens

Every Monday you can find an eclectic mix of the St. Lawrence community at the Canton Unitarian Universalist Church between 5-6:30pm eating a meal put on by Campus Kitchens. People from local areas rely on the effort put on by students and volunteers to provide a well-balanced and healthy hot meal.

“It gives us the sustenance to keep going and allows us to be with each other”, explains Lura, Violet, Bob, and Larry, who consistently attend every community meal in the area.

Bill, another frequent visitor expresses his appreciation for what Campus Kitchens provides, “since I am in a poor financial condition, this is the only way I can get my meals and nutrition”.

Originating in 2010, Campus Kitchens began as a grant for a senior project, through St. Lawrence University, and has since developed into a well-managed and vital service to the community.

The University program operates year round, regardless of academic vacations. The program is executed through a balance of St. Lawrence students and community volunteers who come together to create healthy and delicious three course meals for individuals their families.

GardenShare has a grant through the State of New York's Volunteer Generation Fund and is working with Campus Kitchens to help recruit community volunteers to serve when the students are away.

These meals are free of charge and open to the public. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact SLU Volunteer Services at (315)-229-5135. 

Monday, July 17, 2017


Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week celebrated and defended the Trump administration's recent controversial move to relax some of the school-nutrition standards championed by former first lady Michelle Obama. Perdue spoke to the crowd of some 7,000 professionals at the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) annual conference in Atlanta. Perdue was adamant that the administration’s new policy isn't a step backward. He asserted that the administration is simply “freezing things in place to help us evaluate what the palatability, what the acceptance of these changes have been and to reduce the burdens on schools to get you back to feeding kids and not doing paperwork so much anymore.” Perdue said he wants SNA to help USDA make school nutrition standards better.

Source: Politico, 7/13/17, School Meal Standards