April 22, 2008
Contact: Bernadette Logozar, 518-483-7403; Molly Ames, 315-788-8450; Michelle Ledoux, 315-376-5270

Note: In paragraph 4, the name of the farm is Lucki7 as shown.

Regional Food Buyers, Sellers, Branders Share Tips on May 1-3 Tour in NNY

Who buys locally grown and processed foods in Northern New York? As part of a Local Foods Connections tour stopping May 1st in Lake Clear, May 2nd in Alexandria Bay from 10am to 4 pm at The Riveredge Resort and May 3rd in Croghan from 10am to 4 pm on May 3rd at The American Maple Museum, North Country farmers, chefs, food service managers, retail store operators, and branding agents will share their success stories and brainstorm new opportunities for selling more locally grown and produced foods.

Owner-chef Cathy Hohmeyer of Hohmeyers Lodge at Lake Clear buys produce from several meat, egg, maple, produce and cheese producers in the Adirondack region. On May 1st Hohmeyer will serve grass-fed meats for the first meal of the local foods celebration and brainstorming tour. The featured guest at the May 1st 6-9 pm dinner at Hohmeyers Lodge is Shannon Hayes, author of The Grass-Fed Gourmet and The Farmer and The Grill.

Hohmeyer says, �Buying and serving locally produced foods fits perfectly with our goals of promoting eco-consciousness, health and well-being. Our Old World style cuisine that includes slow cooking is perfectly suited to preparing grass-fed meats. It fits our philosophy of serving local fresh foods and keeping them nutrient-dense no matter what the season.�

Grocery Stores & Consumers Share Food Interests
Grocery stores represent two levels of food buyers � store managers and consumers. For those buyers interested in purchasing naturally produced meats, pork producer Steve Winkler of the Lucki7 Livestock Co. in Rodman, NY, says, �For me, it is not good enough to claim being natural. Using the third-party Certified Natural New York certification process allows me to assure the buyers interested in food safety, high quality, and humanely treated animals that my meats meet their requirements.�

Winkler, who be among panelists at the May 2nd event in Alexandria Bay, adds, �While New York Certified Natural standards for feeding and fencing practices, genetic selection and livestock management can make my products more costly to produce, the certified natural pork stamp of approval brings a higher price per pound and supports a shared consumer-farmer philosophy for creating farm sustainability in natural harmony with the environment.�

Helping Large Volume Buyers Source Local Foods
At Paul Smith�s College Sodexo General Manager of Dining Services and Sustainability Representative Patrick Clelland is involved with sourcing safe and local foods for the college menu. He is also spearheading efforts to connect farmers with high volume food services. He will be a panelist at the Friday and Saturday, May 2-3 programs.

�I am involved with helping farmers, distributors and consumers understand the complexities of providing agricultural products to large scale food service operations. Part of that initiative is to investigate collective distribution utilizing existing distributor operations with the required liability insurances and approvals by an outside organization to meet food safety requirements,� Clelland says.

Local Retailers Reach Consumers Near and Far
A nearly 12-foot-tall Holstein cow and a constantly changing storefront sign with simple messages and gotgoodcheese.com are among the creative ways the Lowville Producers Cooperative attracts buyers. Direct sales of milk produced by the 200-some member cooperative put $53.5 million into the local economy in 2007. Adding to that economic impact were the direct and internet sales of 60 flavors of hand-cut cheeses, products from 15 other small local producers, and gift baskets.

Lowville Producers Cooperative Manager Kent Widrick says, �We watch and adapt to consumer trends. For example, we no longer sell Monterey Jack cheese. Our XXX sharp cheddar and zestier, bolder cheeses are popular. We try to make our product lines fun for consumers. They gave us our website name with their comments and our cow has become a local landmark that makes it easy for tourists to find us.�

Widrick, who is speaking at the May 3rd event in Croghan, says the Cooperative is considering tripling its retail floor space and adding products from two dozen additional local vendors.

There are still spaces available for the Friday and Saturday programs that include a local foods luncheon. There is no fee to attend, but registration is required as space is limited. Register with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County by calling 518-483-7403 or email bel7@cornell.edu.

The May 1-3 Local Foods Connections: Opportunities & Challenges in the North Country tour is part of New Strategies Project: Enhancing Profitability on North Country Farms, a collaboration of Cornell Cooperative Extension county offices in northern New York (Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties) that received grant funds from the New York Farm Viability Institute to assist farms that are exploring new farm business ventures. North Country Public Radio is the media sponsor for this three-day event. # # #