By Barry Leemann, Chairman, Oswego County Legislature
Now more than ever, Oswego Countyâ€™s farm families need our help. They face many challenges in keeping their farms competitive with other markets, all the while maintaining the high level of quality standards that weâ€™ve come to expect.
Oswego County has over 100,000 acres in agricultural production. In our primarily rural area, farming businesses provide 5,140 jobs and contribute $31.5 million in annual revenue.
The unique soils and climate here not only allow us to grow hay, corn, soybeans and oats, but also onions, lettuce, potatoes, and beans. Our milk is used to make ice cream and cheeses, and we are well-known for our fruit orchards and u-pick berry patches.
Throughout Oswego County, we have nurseries, greenhouses and tree farms, as well as maple syrup and honey producers, an organic farm and a fruit winery. Our livestock farms include alpaca, sheep, goats, horses, deer, beef, swine, and poultry.
As a community, we can support our farm families by â€œbuying local.â€ Youâ€™ll get the freshest and most nutritious products for your family and help give our economy a little bit of a boost.
One of the best ways to get started is to visit a roadside stand or farmersâ€™ market to buy homegrown produce from our neighbors. Many local growers have farm stands where they sell fruits, vegetables, maple syrup and honey. We also have farms that sell organic produce, eggs, elk meat and products, goat cheese, and even goat milk soap.
There are eight farmersâ€™ markets held in our communities throughout the week. Youâ€™ll find them in Brewerton, Central Square, Fulton, Mexico, Oswego, Parish, Pulaski and Volney. The complete schedule and locations are available on our Web site at www.visitoswegocounty.com.
In addition to buying locally-grown products, you can show your support for our farming community by stopping in for a visit. Come to a maple farm to learn how syrup is made or visit an alpaca farm to meet the animals and learn how wool becomes a sweater or a pair of mittens.
Celebrate our agricultural heritage by bringing the kids to an orchard to pick apples and search for treasure in a corn maze. Enjoy the fall harvest with fresh apple cider and hay wagon or pony rides.
The Oswego County Harvest Guide provides a map with detailed information about many of these agri-businesses. It was produced by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County with the help of many neighborhood farmers and the support of the Oswego County Legislature.
A strong farming economy ensures a healthy environment and a nutritious food supply. Agriculture is one of the top industries in New York and, with your help we can make sure that it remains there.
We are working to support our farming community in many ways. Earlier this year, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) established the Blue Ribbon Task Force in recognition of the hardships facing this industry. This 36-member committee will discuss the future of farming in New York State. We have three Oswego County legislators serving on this task force. They include Barbara Brown, District 8; Amy Tresidder, District 16; and Terry Wilbur, District 21.
To make sure that Oswego County farmers have a voice in these discussions, we have conducted listening sessions throughout the county. Each has provided valuable insight on the challenges faced by our farmers. They include the low prices paid for farm products, the high cost of production, unfavorable farming regulations, and poor access to distribution and marketing channels. All information gathered at these meetings will be reported back to the NYSAC Blue Ribbon Task Force.
For more information about agriculture in Oswego County or to obtain a copy of the Oswego County Harvest Map, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County at 315-963-7286.