September 27, 2013

Grant funding targets specialty crops

WESTPORT — A $93,460 grant won by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County is aimed to boost the sale of specialty crops in six northern counties.

The project has two pieces, said Anita Deming, executive director of the Essex County office.

One, she said, is a food-hub connection study that will evaluate how products are delivered with the end result of creation of collection and distribution centers for wholesale specialty crops.

Farmers and their customers, among them stores and restaurants, will be interviewed about their present system.

“We will try to find out how to get the products to the user in the most efficient way,” Deming said on Thursday.

Perhaps multiple producers can share a truck, she suggested, “reduce the energy footprint.”

And then the farmer wouldn’t have to use his or her time or an employee’s time to make deliveries.

“It does happen to some extent now, but not 100 percent,” Deming said.

As well, she said, the distribution of specialty crops tends to follow the north/south route of Interstate 87, and they’d like to see more east/west delivery, as well.


Specialty crops are such products as fruits and vegetables, maple syrup, honey, herbs and flowers.

They do not include dairy, livestock, beef, grains — “the commodity crops traded on the stock market,” Deming said.

The Cooperative Extension offices in Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties will be helping to implement the grant.

“We’re regional for our agriculture stuff,” she said. “If I write a grant, it’s for all six counties.”

And if another Cooperative Extension applies for funding, Essex County is as well.

The larger area racks up more points in grant application evaluation, Deming said.

“And also, we’re not competing against each other for the same funds.”


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