MONROE CO., N.Y. — What do farmers and gardeners have in common? The answer, apart from growing food, is a passion for nature and life-long learning.
To support this interest, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County Agricultural Program educator and Town of Pittsford Community Garden coordinator partnered to organize a farm tour for the Town of Pittsford Community Garden members. Since many of them were new to vegetable growing, it was a good idea to give them a chance to meet local farmers and learn directly from them.
The hosting farms, Mendon Acres and Stonecrop Farm, are both participants in the Agritourism training program developed by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County and funded by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority with the aim to expand the agritourism industry in Monroe County.
The first stop was Mendon Acres, a startup berry u-pick and nursery operation. The participants discussed pest control and listened to the farmer’s tips on June bug infestation prevention, a problem that has been plaguing their veggies recently. They learned about cover cropping to improve soil health and varietal selection to best extend the growing season and to increase the farm’s revenue. Walking between the rows of strawberries, raspberries, black and blueberries and testing different varieties by taste, smell and sight was one of the most popular activities at this farm.
The next stop was Stonecrop Farm, a USDA Organic Certified livestock operation. The visitors learned about pasture-raised animals, egg production and the process of how eggs and meat make it to market. They met the animals and saw how chickens, turkeys and pigs live on a family farm. They also explored a hoop house where ginger and turmeric grow and tasted these exotic yet locally grown crops. Another unique experience was stepping into the 180 year-old barn to see and feel its atmosphere. The tour concluded with meat purchases and newsletter signups at the provisional farm store put up by the farm especially for the occasion.
The gardener-farm tour was a success! Plans for next year’s tour are underway so these excited and happy gardeners may continue to hone their food growing skills while learning about local agriculture.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension Monroe County
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