There is an unseen New York, though it’s right in front of the world’s face. When people hear those two words put together: New – York, they tend to think of one place, the center of culture and commerce, fashion and finance, New York City. The truth is that the City takes up a whole .05% of the state’s geography and though it’s population is quite large, it does not reflect what the real New York is.
To me, New York is wide open spaces. Land, farms, men and women who tend and steward the ground under their feet and the animals in their care. New York is rolling valleys, rivers, lakes and creeks (or cricks). New Yorker’s have rough hands, farmer tans, a case of beer in the workshop and smiles on their faces. They have pride and satisfaction in the work that they do because they know that the early mornings, late nights, worries, challenges and triumphs provide quality, nutritious and delicious meals not only for the family they sit down with at night, but for the families throughout the state, region, nation and world.
Last week I attended the New York Farm Bureau State Annual Meeting. We sat through the delegate sessions (true democracy in action), chewed on an endless supply of cheese curds (too good to resist) and mixed and mingled with friends only seen once a year. We spoke to interested legislators, politicos and policy wonks who have either already realized (or are beginning to) the important role agriculture plays in the state.
As participants we re-energized and re-focused on the work that needs to be done, the education and outreach that still needs to be accomplished so that we can be seen in the world – can be appreciated for the real, true and vital New York that is so often invisible.
Farmers are now sexy. NPR, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other important publications do articles on the “new” farmer all the time but sometimes I wonder if they focus too much on the “new” and not on the farmer. They focus on the urbanites who move to the country to begin a life tied to the land. That’s wonderful, I’m one of them so I can’t judge too heavily…but I’m going to…because I can’t help but ask myself where are the pieces in the NYT about the fifth generation farmer? The folks who moved to the country to start a dairy farm and just farm, who don’t sell their bottled milk at Barney’s or at the Union Market?