August 19, 2012

Farms focus on diversity


Recently, Agritourism seems to be on the rise here in the North Country. More than a few farmers have added a roadside vegetable stand or have planted some sweet corn along with the field corn. Some have completely transitioned to activities that attract visitors and tourists seasonally and year-round. The local Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with a group of local farm members to actively promote our local farms and wineries. And with the coming of the harvest season, these farms are looking forward to welcoming visitors to the farm.

Agritourists can choose from a wide range of activities that include picking fruits and vegetables, horse-drawn wagon rides, tasting maple syrup, learning about wine and cheese making, or shopping in farm gift shops and farm stands for local and regional produce or hand-crafted gifts. For local farms, Agritourisim is an opportunity to give non-farm visitors a glimpse at what is involved in agricultural production and enhance their income via direct sales of produce, maple products, honey and local crafts. Just this weekend, the county Farm Bureau held an open house event at a local dairy farm to give just such a glimpse.

Farm wineries have also been working very hard to establish themselves in the region. In 2005, at the Baker Research Farm in Willsboro, Cornell researchers planted a trial of 25 grape varieties to evaluate for cold hardiness. These vines were used to offer hands-on training to interested grape growers in trellising and pruning as well as many of the horticulture skills and crop-management practices needed for vineyard operation. Research continued in subsequent years and yielded much valuable information for the regions budding grape growers. Current research focuses on cold-hardy hybrids, vine management and varietal blending for winemaking. With many new small vineyards in production, our region now has six licensed farm wineries open for business.

If you are interested in visiting a local farm winery, the Lake Champlain Grape Growers Association has a website with locations, grape information and a calendar of events. Visit

For more information about local farms and other interesting activities they may offer, contact Peter Hagar at 561-7450 or

Peter Hagar, agriculture educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension Clinton County, 6064 Route 22, Suite No. 5, Plattsburgh, 12901. Phone 561-7450, fax 561-0183 or email

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