by Troy Bishopp
CORTLAND, NY — Established in 1946 to promote the conservation and wise use of Cortland County’s natural resources, the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District has been a steadfast champion for bringing landowners and farmers together to address opportunities that benefit the local area.
Making connections was what the 2018 Conservation Resource Fair aimed to do. Held at the Grange building auditorium in a casual atmosphere over a tasty lunch, it allowed 90 local agricultural producers and rural landowners to interact with 15 organizations and learn about current conservation priorities, services and opportunities in Cortland County. “Our goal was to provide a venue for discussing agricultural and land management assistance needs in the community,” said District Manager, Amanda Barber.
The event featured opportunities within the Farm Service Agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation, The New York Forest Owners Association, The Upper Susquehanna Coalition’s Buffer, Wetland, Stream and Grazing Initiatives, Cornell Cooperative Extension, The Natural Resources Conservation Service, The Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program, The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, NY Farm Bureau, New York Agricultural Land Trust, The Agricultural Environmental Management Program and The New York Grown and Certified Program along with the robust team from the Cortland County SWCD.
“Farmers were interested in the New York State Grown and Certified program and learning what the requirements are to be admitted into the program, which includes participating in the Agriculture Environmental Management Program, and adhering to a food safety requirement/NY grown product,” said Judy Littrell, Conservation Education Outreach Coordinator for the NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee. “The fair was a great opportunity for landowners to come to one place to meet and interact with various organizations and agencies that can support their efforts in conservation and provide technical services. It was also an opportunity to come together and network and visit with other producers.”
“The format was meant to attract all size property owners, but we specifically promoted and encouraged small farm and non-agricultural landowners to attend. While we have a good working relationship with active farms, especially our dairy farms, we know we are missing opportunities to work with small and part-time farms, especially those whose owners have other full-time jobs. We saw many small landowners drop in during their lunchtime to pick up information and learn more about opportunities available to them. From the requests for follow-up assistance, I can say this was definitely a success and something we will do again in the future,” said Barber.
To learn more, visit Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District at www.cortlandswcd.org or call 607.756.5991.
Resource fair links farmers with opportunities
by Troy Bishopp