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Agriculture in the Finger Lakes

The Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga Indians recognized long ago the fertility of the land in the Finger Lakes and were successful at growing crops. In particular they grew the "three sister"--corn, beans, and squash--as well as fruit trees.  During the American Revolutionary War, when George Washington sent John Sullivan and his army to extricate the Indians from the region, Sullivan's soldiers commented on the type and quality of the crops the Indians were growing. Many of these soldiers came back to the region to start their own farms.

 

Apple crates in Wayne County, Finger Lakes, New YorkAgriculture is now New York State's number one business. New York is the second largest apple-producing state in the nation just behind Washington and the third largest wine-producing state behind California and Washington.

 

The Finger Lakes produces the majority of the wine that comes out of New York State. It also produces the best apple cider in the country (an admittedly biased opinion), a wide variety of fruited wines, meads, and beers.

 

Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty was started several years ago in an effort to promote local agriculture, especially the use of local produce by restaurants in the region. In addition, the New York Wine & Culinary Center was recently established to promote New York wine, food, and cooking. The Center has a wine-tasting room and state-of-the-art kitchens and offers classes in wine appreciation and cooking.

 

At the state level, agriculture is overseen by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Through Cornell University, the State's land grant institution, the State operates the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on the Ithaca campus and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, whose mission it is to "support agricultural and food industries with research, extension, and education programs." In addition, each county has a Cooperative Extension office that provides (among other things) information to farmers and gardeners about growing Hay bail in Schuyler County, Finger Lakes, New Yorkcrops and flowers, insect pests, plant diseases, and soil management. The Cooperative Extension concept originated at the federal level. Funding comes (in part) from the federal government to each state's land grant institution, which oversees the county Cooperative Extension offices in that state.

 

Organic gardening and farming are growing in popularity in New York State with many consumers seeking out organically grown produce at local farmers' markets. If interested in organic gardening or organic farming, contact your county Cooperative Extension office or the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.

 

Besides producing grapes and apples, the Finger Lakes also produces buckwheat, oats, wheat, corn, lettuce, onions, carrots, leeks, potatos, peas, melons, sweet Cabbage field in Ontario County, Finger Lakes, New Yorkand sour cherries, peaches, apricots, strawberries, blueberries, pears, a variety of squash, tomatos, green peppers, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and beans. This shouldn't be considered a definitive list, but an example of the variety of fruits and vegetables one can grow and buy in the region.

 

If you'd like to blog about food in the Finger Lakes, check out:

FingerLakesFeasting.com

 

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