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Friday, June 30, 2017

Farmer Friday- Harmony Farm

Harmony Farms located on 273 Randall Road, Waddington 
       
           Many will share a multitude of reasons that prompted their decision to make honey, however few will associate a desire to make soda as their initial exposure into the world of beekeeping. But that was just the case for the Kalicins, of Harmony Farm, when Debs Kalicin could not find any gold ginger ale to purchase in the area and set off to make some her own. This search for local honey, as one of the ingredients, ignited an interest in bees. A curiosity so strong, that in 1972 the Kalicins began what they thought of as a productive way to spend some time during their retirement. Now over forty years later, Greg Kalicin pleasantly describes it as, "a hobby that has gotten out of control".             
With 30 colonies on and around their property, Greg and Debs produce and sell pure honey. The entire process is executed within a walking distance from the Kalicin’s front door. Three stainless steel machines are found in a small building behind the Kalicin’s home where the contents of the apiaries are extracted, held, and bottled into jars. Each machine is used to ensure that the procedure produces no waste, collecting every last drop of the golden liquid. 
It is has become widely known that the global population of bees have been in decline over the past decades. This poses a severe threat because bees are so heavily tied to our food supply. One out of every three bites of food an average human consumes is pollinated by these insects. To help protect their honeybees, Greg and Debs choose to use non-chemical and alternative treatments on their plants and colonies. “Modern agriculture is just not conducive to bee keeping” Greg states as he explains the poor health or population loss he has seen in his bees.
There are a multitude of factors that limit bees from achieving a proper diet. Debs explains that each plant offers a different nutrient that bees extract through pollination. Similar to how humans need well-balanced meals to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is essential that bees are able to feed off of a diverse supply of plants to ensure the same. Many of the bees that come to the area are in rough shape from pollinating the same crop too frequently. Bee health is improved due to the sometimes unintentional assistance of local organic farmers in the area that allow a diversified and contaminant free food source. One unique fact that Greg points out is that beekeepers may be one of the few professions that can benefit from invasive species, “the bees like it and farmer’s aren’t spraying it”. 
The Kalicins dedicate their time around a species that many will commit their lives trying to avoid. “It really gets in your blood,” proclaims Greg when describing his adherence to beekeeping.
An apiary with busy honey bees inside a property of Harmony Farm
Inside a shed that stores a couple apiaries and hundreds of bees, the environment produces a very unexpected sensation. Their buzzing is almost meditative. Greg checks in on his bees every two to three weeks to ensure that every part of the colony is working successfully and explains that this sound is a good sign. The buzzing the bees make when it is time to open a crate indicate whether or not the colony is experiencing difficulties. It is that calm hum of these busy insects that you want to hear. If the noises of worker bees alter, or sound inconsistent, it can be an indicator that something isn’t working right.
It is a beekeepers job to ensure that the colony will function properly. The bees are responsible for most of the work, but the beekeeper provides the means for them to do so. One of the most important responsibilities is to make sure that there is a strong population in the colony. Bee population correlates to honey production, and this, Greg explains, is often the hardest aspect to control.
The population is a reflection of how the queen bee acclimates once introduced to the colony. Queens are normally ordered from an outside source and shipped to the beekeeper. “Each queen has a personality and different traits, you’ll see that some do a fantastic job of laying eggs and some that are just duds”. It truly is pure chance, and that can be discouraging, or hard to understand, to those who are new to beekeeping. Although that has yet to discourage the Kalicins, who continue to visit conferences and involve themselves in beekeeper associations to continue to learn and improve their craft.
Sales kiosk on the road of Harmony Farms
Pure honey will never spoil as long as the jar remains sealed tight. It has been used as a medicine since the beginning of human history, and the endless benefits caused many early human civilizations to worship this golden food. An adoration for honey that seems to be coming back into modern society. 
Many people who buy Harmony Farm’s honey will approach Greg at the farmers market to share the medicinal benefits the product helped heal. He has heard many common uses such as healing a sore throat, to more obscure remedies such as ringworm. 
If you are craving something sweet, looking to improve your health, or want to support the honeybees, try your luck at the Cantons Farmers Market or at the sales kiosk located on their property in Waddington, NY. 

Learn more about Harmony Farm: http://www.harmonyfarm.net/index.php



Veggie of the month: Carrots!

Fun Facts about carrots:
  •    Contains 200% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A which is good for vision, bones, skin, and teeth.
  •     Even the green tops of carrots are edible, but the part of the carrot most generally eaten is the taproot.
  •    Carrots only became a staple vegetable in American diets post World War I, after soldiers returned from Europe having eaten them during the war.


Recipe:  Maple Dill Carrots

Make use of the maple in the North Country with this sweet side dish, perfect for any summer meal. 

INGREDIENTS
3 cups peeled and sliced carrots
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons granulated maple sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Place carrots in a skillet and pour in just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer until water has evaporated and the carrots are tender. Stir in butter, maple sugar, dill, salt, and pepper.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

STATES TESTING HOW TO GET PEOPLE OFF OF SNAP


A $200 million experiment is happening right now in 10 states aimed at figuring out how best to help find jobs for SNAP recipients. Congress authorized these pilots in the 2014 Farm Bill, but their results won't be ready in time for the next reauthorization. The pilots are part of the first-ever attempt to seriously study the effectiveness of SNAP employment and training efforts. In 2014 Republicans demanded a greater focus on work requirements for able-bodied adult recipients who do not have dependents. Democrats wanted no part of these requirements - and the impasse had threatened to cleave the nutrition title from the rest of the Farm Bill. The pilots served to help reunify the bill after it had been ripped apart in the House. But they were also intended to give Congress scientific data on how to effectively get recipients back to work - something Republicans and Democrats in the 115th Congress both say they want.

Source: Politico, 6/21/17, SNAP Pilots

Community Bank donates to GardenShare


Thank you to Community Bank in Canton who have made a $250 donation to support GardenShare's Bonus Bucks program.  These dollars will go directly to helping an area family secure locally-grown, fresh, healthy food.

Pictured are:  GardenShare Executive Director Gloria McAdam, Community Bank Branch Manager Marsha Watson, and GardenShare Board of Directors President Carol Pynchon.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

TOO MANY KIDS MISS OUT ON SUMMER MEALS


After four years of significant growth, national participation in summer nutrition programs (Summer Food Service and the National School Lunch programs) decreased last summer. During July 2016, the programs served 3 million children across the country — 4.8% fewer children than were served in the previous summer.  On an average day in July 2016, the programs served lunch to 3.04 million children. The summer programs served only 15 children for every 100 low-income children who participated in National School Lunch Program during the regular school year, a decrease from 15.8 to 100 the previous year.


Source: Food Research & Action Center, 6/13/17, Summer Meals

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES NEED SNAP


People with disabilities are likelier to live in poverty, families with children with disabilities are likelier to face hardships such as an inability to pay rent, and families with members with severe disabilities have rates of food insecurity close to three times higher than other families. Food insecurity can be especially harmful for people with disabilities, as an insufficient diet can worsen some disabling or chronic conditions. Many SNAP participants with disabilities receive benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). But many others have impairments that aren’t severe enough to qualify them for disability benefits; still others have applied for SSI or SSDI but haven’t yet been approved. About 40% of non-disabled adult SNAP participants with an impairment receive neither SSI nor SSDI. That’s important because if these individuals aren’t considered disabled under SNAP program rules, they might not be protected if a new Farm Bill exempts people with disabilities from SNAP eligibility or benefits cuts.

Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 6/15/17, SNAP & Disabilities

Monday, June 26, 2017

FOOD AS MEDICINE


A coalition of California nonprofits is asking the state for funding to deliver medically tailored meals to the doors of low-income California residents living with heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  If the coalition’s request for $9 million in funding over three years is approved, it would be the first multi-organization, multi-county, multi-disease pilot in the country—and it could have a significant impact on healthcare costs and health outcomes. (The approved budget apparently included $6 million.)  Earlier work in Philadelphia showed promising results. After delivering three medically tailored meals per day to 65 patients with different chronic illnesses for six months, researchers found that the health care costs for those patients dropped from $38,937 per month to $28,183 per month, and were 55% lower than the costs of a comparison group. The frequency of hospital admissions and length of hospital stays also declined.


Source: Civil Eats, 6/15/17, Food as Medicine

U.S. Senator Gillibrand is recipient of NYS Anti-Hunger Champion Award

From our partners at Hunger Solutions New York:  

The Anti-Hunger Champion Award honors New York State leaders who have taken strategic and decisive steps to reduce hunger in our state and beyond. The 2017 award was presented to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at the May 17 NYS Anti-Hunger Conference, in recognition of her tireless efforts to protect and defend the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), strengthen core child nutrition programs, and to ensure every New Yorker has access to enough healthy food. 

WATCH HER ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Friday, June 23, 2017

Farmer Friday- Deep Root Mushroom Farm

Groups of inoculated sugar maple logs in "Shiitake Land"

             Whether they are developing in the garden, sprouting from stacks of logs in an area described as “shiitake land”, or growing in bags within a protected shed, it is evident that mushrooms encompass the entire property of Deep Root Mushroom Farm, in Canton, NY, and that is just the outside. Inside the Corse’s mountain home, one can easily come across bags of mushrooms in the kitchen, the laundry room, the basement, the bedroom, along with numerous mason jars housed in the upstairs mushroom lab. What is most astounding is that Mike Corse, of Deep Root, explains that his mushroom growth is currently in a state of limbo. There are times, he explains, when the refrigerator is stocked with multiple varieties of mushroom and has to halt production because there simply is not enough storage to support more crop yields.
Mike Corse filling a bag that will produce Grey Oyster mushrooms
             Mike recounts that his interest to grow mushrooms was sparked when he found himself assisting a local grower inoculate logs. This curiosity towards mushroom cultivation, Mike claims, resonated with him more than anything else ever has and still motivates him today.
            Mushroom farming was not an instant lifestyle change but rather a gradual progression into the profession. It was a process of taking baby steps to see where it would go, filled with numerous mistakes on the way.
            It may seem ironic to be worried about cleanliness when dealing with fungi, but when you look inside Deep Root’s mushroom lab on the second floor of Mike’s house, you will see masks, gloves, and sanitation equipment. 
              Just a sneeze could contaminate an entire bag of mushrooms. Mike explains the delicacy of the process, “they’re not as forgiving as a seed, but more fascinating in my book”, and it is this fascination that spreads the Deep Root name across St. Lawrence County.
You may have eaten some of Deep Root’s mushrooms at Jake’s On The Water. Distributing to Jake’s was a push to become more dedicated to his mushrooms and prompted Mike to improve his farming. Today, Mike spends most of his time with his mushrooms. He quit his job at Nature’s Storehouse to devote his time towards learning and growing these fungi. On the property you can find at least eight different mushroom varieties; Oyster, King Oyster, Shiitake, Wine-caps, Blewit, Almond Portobello, Reishi, and Pink Oyster.
Grey Oyster Mushrooom
            “I don’t know why” is the immediate answer Mike responds with when asked what keeps him involved in mushrooms, but as he continues describing his work it is rapidly apparent that there are many. “There is always something new around the corner”, he explains when describing his consistent allure towards understanding the evolution and knowledge needed to successfully execute mushroom growth.
He also alludes to an interest that derives from the various uses of the mushroom. Many varieties are highly medicinal and produce numerous health benefits, they serve as a great source of protein, some can have deadly consequences if identified incorrectly. In fact, mushrooms have a closer biochemical and genetic relationship to humans than they do to plants. Yet people are often leery when it comes to embracing the mushroom, there is something about this food source that make so many people uneasy, ”like snakes”, Mike explains. 
This captivation is paired with the convenience he found with growing mushrooms. Mushroom farming doesn’t require weeding and allows a person to work in the shade. It also does not rely on the quality of soil, as much vegetable farming would, which Mike explains is something they lack on their property. Similarly, he can grow mushrooms inside his house. This allows production to continue throughout the winter in the convenient environment that is his kitchen table. At first, the mushroom was a smart and strategic choice to cultivate, but has quickly developed into a passion that continues to receive more and more recognition.
Shiitake Mushroom
             One of the most rewarding aspects, Mike has taken away from mushroom farming, is the ability to fill a niche of a diverse and unique food source to people to people of the St. Lawrence County. If you get the chance to visit the Canton Farmers Market on Tuesdays, between 9-2pm or Potsdam's Farmers Market on Saturday between 9-2pm, you may get the chance to meet the mushroom man himself. 


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fun at the farmers market this week


Image result for strawberry s'mores

Farmers markets this week - Friday in Canton and Saturday in Potsdam - will have some extra fun features.

Cornell Cooperative Extension will be doing food demonstration of a healthier version of a Strawberry S'Mores snack. Yum!

There will also be a few children's activities such as a scavenger hunt for the kids to do throughout the market. 

Hope to see you there

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Farmers market programs at risk of being de-funded

Important update from our friends at the Farmers Market Coalition!


Two critical programs that support farmers and farmers markets are under threat. The recently released presidential budget proposes the complete elimination of both the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).

Your voice is needed to protect these vital programs. Farmers markets don’t have Super PACs. We have something more powerful—a community of over 8,600 markets and millions of loyal shoppers in small towns and big cities in all 50 states. When we stand shoulder-to-shoulder and speak with one voice, we’re a force to be reckoned with. The time has come to get active.

If we act together it is still possible to save these programs, because Congress—not the President—controls the government's budget. Congress is currently debating the future of both FMPP and WIC FMNP.

Take five minutes to call or email your Congressperson and let them know how important these programs are to your market and markets across the country.

Click these links to read FMC's analysis of cuts to WIC FMNP and FMPP, and take a look at the following briefs for more information on the overall impact of the programs:

FMPP Talking Points 

WIC FMNP Talking Points

Find out who represents you here, and call or email today!
Things to Keep in Mind:
  • You’re the expert. Your Congressperson and their staff want to learn from you about these programs and how they work for your market.
  • Listening to your concerns is their job. Every member of Congress cares about the needs of the people, businesses, and communities in their district. They want to hear from you because it helps them do that job better.
  • Congressional offices hear from a lot of paid lobbyists in D.C. The voice of someone in their district representing a community institution like a farmers market carries more weight.
What You Might Expect When You Call:

Office: “Hello, Representative _______’s office.”

You: “Hello, my name is _______, with the _______ Farmers Market in [CITY and/or COUNTY]  [this is important, when they know you’re a constituent, they’ll roll out the red carpet]. May I please speak with the person who handles agriculture or nutrition issues for the Congressman?”

Office: “Of course, may I ask that this is in reference to?”

You: “The Farmers Market Promotion Program and the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program.”

Office: “Of course, I’ll transfer you right over….”

Agriculture Staffer: “Hello, Jane Farmer”

You: “Hello Jane! My name is _______, with the _______ Farmers Market in [CITY and/or COUNTY] . As you may know, the President’s budget proposes the complete elimination of both the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the Farmers Market Promotion Program. We feel strongly that these are two worthy programs. Both are small, efficiently run, and are working exactly as they were designed to. [Share some information about how either of these programs have benefited your community or market] Have you had a chance to discuss either of these programs with Congressman________?”

Agriculture Staffer: [Yes/no. Unless their boss in on the Agriculture Committee they may not have discussed either program]

You: Thank you. We just wanted to let the Congressman know that these programs are supporting great work in [CITY and/or COUNTY] and we’re counting on her/him!

If the conversation goes well, invite your member of Congress or to the market and let them see these programs working firsthand!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer food for kids

With 51% of St. Lawrence County's children receiving a free or reduced-price lunch at school, you have to wonder how those kids are eating healthy meals in the summer.  We know that our local food pantries see an influx of families in the summer as their grocery budgets are being stretched.

This morning, Channel 7 had a story about the Summer Food Service Program in Jefferson County, where they have 34 sites providing meals and activities for children in need during the summer.

St. Lawrence County has only a handful of these programs across a much larger geography.  Makes one wonder what we could do differently here to make sure our children have healthy diets, doesn't it?

Monday, June 19, 2017

New effort focused on rural hunger

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is partnering with Smithfield Foods to launch a program titled Rally Against Rural Hunger, which will be focused on increasing participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Summer Nutrition Programs, and other federal nutrition programs in the nation’s rural areas. 

“It’s our nation’s rural areas, which paradoxically grow most of the nation’s food, that face deeper struggles with hunger than metropolitan areas,” write Jim Weill, president of FRAC, and Dennis Pittman, senior director of Hunger Relief for Smithfield Foods, in this op-ed. North Carolina ranks 13th in the nation for food hardship and has the nation’s second-highest rural population. 

Source:  Smithfield Foods joins with anti-hunger group to feed rural NC – The News & Observer, June 14, 2017