While many are enjoying the dry and hot weather this summer, the drought-like conditions are causing concerns for one group of constituents: our local farmers and food producers. The lack of rain has caused issues for those in the agriculture industry across our nation, and it is essential that, in times like these, we continue to support our small family farms and local food producers.
Despite the difficult farming conditions, there is still a bounty of fresh produce and foods available either at farmers’ markets, farm stands, or at many of our “mom and pop” shops. Berries are in season as well as lettuce, zucchini and summer squash, green beans, and stone fruits like apricots and peaches. Additionally, you can find locally produced eggs, meats and cheeses and products like honey, wine or beer, and that all important summer essential: ice cream!
Continuing on one of my Buy Local-Shop Local initiative’s goals, to encourage residents to buy and consume healthy, locally-produced foods, I was pleased to help support legislation this year that will help bring more farmers’ markets to communities across our state. Assembly Bill 1025 will provide economic development funds to help our communities construct or improve farmers’ markets and help match agricultural producers with restaurants, chefs, and directly with consumers as well as wholesale buyers.
Not only does supporting our local farmers and food producers help conserve our rural landscape, add to our quality of life, and provide us with delicious and nutritious food, but it also helps revitalize our local economy – and farmers are not the only beneficiaries. With a growing consumer demand for fresh ingredients, many restaurants are either growing their own produce or partnering up with local farms, wineries or other food producers like dairies. This increased agricultural commerce leads to stronger Main Streets and helps ensure our small town communities have a viable and sustainable future.
There are many local farmers’ markets in Orange and Rockland counties. To find one close to you, please visit the state Department of Agriculture and Markets’ website at www.agriculture.ny.gov/AP/CommunityFarmersMarkets.asp or to find a locally-produced food product (like honey or wine), please visit Pride of New York’s website at www.prideofny.com.
Additionally, if you want a taste of the local produce and food products (whether at home or when traveling this summer), Pride of New York’s website also includes a directory of county-by-county restaurants that feature Pride of New York foods. For example, in our area Casa Mia Restaurant in Middletown and Noble Pies in Warwick are both Pride of New York businesses.
If you are a farmer, food producer, restaurateur or chef – or home cook – and want to share information about your business or favorite seasonal recipe, please join the conversation with us online, and as always, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at (845) 291-3631 to schedule a meeting.