by Rachael Takacs
This August, Cornell Cooperative Extension hosted its seventh annual Family Farm Day, an agritourism event consisting of a series of open houses at working farms within Schoharie, Otsego and Delaware counties. The farms provided a wide array of products and local foods for visitors to purchase and enjoy. Guests also had the opportunity to learn how these items were made or harvested and part of what being a farmer is like.
Fifty-six farms participated in Family Farm Day this year, including the third-generation Parsons Vegetable Farm, owned by Kenyon and Kerry Parsons. Located in Sharon Springs in Schoharie County, the Parsons offered a large assortment of beautiful vegetables and flowers for attendees to buy. They included several fun activities for visitors to enjoy such as “corn chucking,” “Mr. Pickle Head” (Kerry’s take on “Mr. Potato Head”) and an obstacle course. The Parsons’ 151-acre farm has been growing vegetables since 1994, explained Kenyon. “We have participated in every Family Farm Day. Vegetables are available everywhere, so if a little agritourism helps sell squash, Kerry and I are all for it,” he said. “We have a hay maze every fall, and have had weddings, birthday parties and even family reunions at the farm. The fun thing about Farm Day is how so many families hang out for an hour or so.”
Slate Hill Flower Farm, also in Sharon Springs, was blossoming with visitors as well as flowers, herbs and over 1,000 lavender plants. Guests were invited to sample some lavender-infused lemonade. Owners Maria and Mike Lange handed out lavender sprigs and showcased the unique items created with what they grow.
“We purchased the farm in June 2016 but didn’t move here until 2017,” explained Maria. “We have been growing lavender and flowers for drying since summer 2017. We sell our florals and handcrafted lavender products and, when available, lavender honey at our shop Sharon Sprigs in the village of Sharon Springs and occasional arts/crafts shows.” This was their second year participating in Family Farm Day, helping them build awareness for their farm.
“We are new to the idea of agritourism, but think it is a good idea as it helps people learn about where their food and local products come from, along with what it takes to grow and produce them,” she continued. “We do plan to do more events and workshops on the farm next year.”
Cornell Cooperative Extension strives to reach out into the community every day by showcasing agriculture in the rawest form possible. For more information on their upcoming events and the programs they provide, visit cce.cornell.edu.