Farm Journal: A locavore community

Anne Riordan and the corn is high! Photo: Amy Martin.

Anne Riordan and the corn is high! Photo: Amy Martin.

This is part of a series of Farm Journals, farmers writing regularly about life on the farm, week to week, through the season. Anne Riordan is field manager at Cayuga Pure Organics outside of Ithaca. Read all her journal entries here.

My corn is 14 feet tall!!!  I drove by  a week ago and sadly shook my head. There were no tassels, no ears.  I drove by yesterday and there was such a change that I pulled over the truck, called Amy, and made her promise to come take a picture with me (see above). It is a great relief for me to see the corn beginning to really produce.  While i'm the queen of optimism (or the facade), i planted that corn two weeks late due to the massive quantities or rain we got in May and June. I was seriously worried about how well it would produce.

The picture shows White Corn, a variety we are growing for Finger Lakes Distilling, and I would have been in a serious funk had I screwed this deal up.  The white corn and popcorn we grow are significantly longer season than the hybrid field corn we grow so it was imperative to plant it earlier than I did.

Now, Finger Lakes Distillers is a truely amazing place.  Anyone near route 414 in Watkins Glen or traveling by should probably stop by and have a taste test. Plan on having some type of meal beforehand though, becuase you will get five shots in quick order and their spirits are so good you won't want to stop trying….  I recommend the Vintners Berry Vodka (which is the crisp and clean berry flavor, amazingly smooth) and the MacKenzie Rye Whiskey (which is to die for. And becuase they use our rye!)  Along with wonderful spirits, of course, the distillers place is on the wine trail  and that's a guaranteed good time, along with wonderful restaurants such as Danos and Stonecat Cafe.  Look at me this week, i'm being a total locavore!

Anne Riordan on the bean cultivator. Photo: Amy Martin.

Anne Riordan on the bean cultivator. Photo: Amy Martin.

Speaking of locavore-ness, there are a lot of little movements in my community (Brooktondale/Caroline) towards local food production.  I was amazed and proud when I went to a meeting hosted last month by our local Co-op, Greenstar.  They brought representatives from our town and some surrounding towns (Danby, Ithaca, Enfield, Newfield, Trumansburg) to talk about what they are doing to bring more food production to their  town.   There are all sorts of things going on that I had no idea about!

There is a community garden plot in which people are allowed and encouraged to donate their excess vegetables to the food pantry and that is how they pay for their plot.  There is a community chicken area in which similar payment is enacted.  My neighbor and good friend Aaron Snow is starting a "buyer's club" which I actually will write more about next week becuase I don't want to do him an injustice by incorrectly blogging about it.  But overall, it's an encouraging and optimistic and fun way to think about community and sustainability.

I am in the office this morning because it rained last night (yes, here is the requisite section about the weather!).  I am actually really irritated it
rained last night, because I waited for it to rain, actually made rain-day preparations (like moving machinery and tarping open machinery) instead of doing fieldwork and now I feel like I didn't accomplish anything yesterday. And being in a crunch, time-wise as usual, I feel frustrated when that happens.  But being in the office is a nice change.

The Cayuga Pure Organics team: Steven, Amy, Anne, Deb, and Erick. Photo: Mariah Rose Dahl.

The Cayuga Pure Organics team: Steven, Amy, Anne, Deb, and Erick. Photo: Mariah Rose Dahl.

I haven't really explained much about the office /beanery (or soon-to-be-beanery) side of things.  The office of CPO is in the downstairs of Erick's (my boss') house.  It's extremely communal.  Erick and Debbie run a bed and breakfast, and thus there is always excess food and coffee and interesting guests to talk to, all of who want a farm tour.  This also means there is very easy access to Erick.  All one has to do is run up the stairs and shout! (This is what I do, as opposed to hollering from the basement which does't work as well).  Joking aside, it's a very homey and comfortable office.  This morning, Amy is setting up a meeting with the fire insurance adjuster (finally!!!) and we are optimistic that perhaps the insurance claim will be settled once and for all.

This may be a macabre way to look at things, but we cleaned up our fire damage too efficiently.  If there is a catastrophe, always wait and document to an obsessive degree what has been damaged.  Luckily, we did have lots of pictures of machines and buildings before and after the fire, but it's still been touch and go with the insurance companies.

If it continues to rain (which it will), I'll go help Harlan in the shop.  Harlan is another one I haven't talked enough about.  Harlan is our mechanic.  He's a very thorough mechanic.  He's a self-taught mechanic!  Harlan started working at CPO about five years ago after Erick saw him fixing a car in the parking lot of Brookton's Market (a local deli and market).  He said "hey! do you want a job being a mechanic?" And Harlan said yes and has been happily tearing machines apart ever since.   And teaching the rest of us how to maintain them so he doesn't have to tear them apart unnecessarily (when this happens, watch out!)  I have a lot to learn from Harlan about organization.  We fight sometimes about organization but it's just becuase I'm really unnecessarily messy.  But I'm learning!

Erick just wandered down the stairs and requested a meeting (one of the perks of the office I was talking about) so I should wander up the stairs and acquiesce to his request.

To work, folks!  Enjoy the sun while it's out.


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