(#298) — Take a drive through the western part of the county and you will see at least two important scenes. What can’t be missed are the innumerable panoramic views that trumpet the magnificent beauty of this county we call home. Also to be seen on a daily basis is the trek of tractors spreading manure that brings on the sudden flush of grass for first cutting of hay. On display is the partnering of the other than human animal population and the local farmer in closing the loop of ecological abundance that optimizes current energy flow to nourish the land and feed the human community. Taking a few minutes to pull over to the side of the road and observe this fundamentally important partnership and to consider as well the tremendous pressure this eco-economic partnership is under should also be a part of this experience. On the way back to the main routes of travel no one can miss the predominant landscape of abandoned farm buildings that speak of personal and environmental loss that is compounded every year. Special investment programs can repopulate these very important sites of healthy living and food production.
A careful, informed inspection would also discover the resilience and innovation of many agricultural initiatives. Sullivan County has several relatively new large scale meat producers as well as dairies that market large animals each year. Pork and beef operations head the list but sheep and goat numbers are also growing. A major chicken and egg producer recently stop operation but there are still several boutique and large-scale chicken and egg producers. An Inventory will soon be completed that will indicate that Sullivan County farmers in a variety of innovative operations of many sizes is contributing to sustainable economic development through large local meat production expansion. Completion of the long awaited local meat processing plant would be a tremendous boon to current producers.
A new major composting operation is in production. Using state of the art technology, it generates valuable soil amendments for local sale and keeps local natural resources local.
Local honey producers continue to replace hives that are lost each year due to as yet unknown causes. Without billions of local honeybees, the natural cycle of plant fertility will be sharply curtailed. Who does not enjoy the taste of pure honey?
Maple syrup production has increased exponentially. One of the largest maple producers in the state is located in the county. This natural product can be used in many food-processing operations as well as fabricated into several end-use products.
The number of small scale, intensive producers of vegetable and fruit continues each year. Many integrate fowl and ruminant animals to close the nutrient cycle and benefit from this synergy. Multiple grants are being prepared for acquisition of a local food hub building and establishing the marketing, collection and distribution of locally grown fresh food. Much more investment is needed to harvest the available opportunities.
The Foodstock event at the Villa Roma on Saturday, May 11th is a good opportunity to see and taste all of the above plus locally produced wines, liquors, breads, pasta, and many other healthy food items.