Places unseen

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?

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7 Comments

Filed under Basics, Common Ground

7 responses to “Places unseen

  1. You should send this to Times Union editorial and NYT

  2. Lamboy

    For many of us the marketing is as important as the farming. Getting top dollar for what we produce whether selling ar the local upscale store or the farmers markets or highend restaurant is the only way to make enough money. So, being new or old (as am I) may require some new thinking and that in itself is a story.

  3. Sometimes the answer is as simple as who will return the reporters call. Many of the “older” farmers want nothing to do with the Media, but the “younger” ones will answer calls and do interviews. Or they are advertising on the internet and social media, so they can be found in the first place. I am a fifth-gen farmer, but I love to engage with the media, and this has been very beneficial to my business and farming in my community in general. Our county was just awarded a grant for $400,000. toward building a year-round regional farmers market. FB in our County seems to cater only to the 4 remaining dairy farms, and really do not seem to want anything to with with any other kind of farmer. The fact that there is bickering within the farming community as to what constitutes a farmer is our problem in the first place. How do we present a unified front, when there is yet no unity? But, yes, the Media is finally on our side, so now is there is great opportunity to work this to further raise the awareness of the general public.

    • Awsome point. I think you are completely right about the us vs. them conversations that happen in agriculture. Dairy vs. Vegetable. Conventional vs. Organic. I wish that more of us would just sit down and say that any kind of agriculture helps the farming community and move forward from there. And I totally get your point about returning calls. I think that, traditionally, farmers have been the worst self-marketers and fail to tell their stories when they have the chance. Things are changing though and with new people coming into the fold and new generations becoming active on the family farm we can continue.

    • Lamboy

      Same here,” if you ain’t milking cows, you ain’t farmin”. Try telling the old guard that raising sheep is really farming. We need a united front as we are all frmers and have, to one extent or another, the same issues. If you want changes in your local FB, then get together and run for the board.

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