by Troy Bishopp

WESTMORELAND, NY — In a festival style atmosphere complete with grills smoking, the North Star Orchards parking lot was transformed into a unique “Meat and Greet” between farmers and prospective customers sharing the tastes of Central New York on a glorious evening.

“What better time to highlight local meats then during summer grilling season?” asked Marylynn Collins, Oneida County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension Dairy & Livestock Educator and local farmer who spearheaded this event with her CCE colleagues, passionate volunteers and George Joseph of North Star Orchards who provided the space and the inspiration. “When small farmers get together in mass, it brings people together,” said Joseph.

“Cornell Cooperative Extension recognizes the value of our local agriculture and is always excited to work with area livestock farmers to coordinate events that offer free promotion and tastings of local meats. The Buy Local-Grill Local tagline is an opportunity for farmers to connect with consumers, share the story of the farm and how animals are raised and a chance to sell a great product. Connecting farmers directly with consumers is a win-win,” said Collins.

Over 350 people participated in tasting the grilling goodness off The Hearth Shop’s variety of outdoor grill options from nine participating farms who each donated 10 pounds of product to the free sampling. The farms who shared in the experience were: Davjen Farm LLC from Hubbardsville, NY; Devine Gardens LLC from Morrisville, NY; Hillside Angus CNY from Boonville, NY; Horn’s Family Farm from Remsen, NY; Lucki 7 Farms from Rodman, NY; Mounts Creek Farm from Cold Brook, NY; O’Mara Family Farms from Hubbardsville, NY; Slate Creek Farm from Barneveld, NY and Wormont Woolies CSA from Cassville, NY.

Customers enjoyed selections of pulled pork, hamburger, beef teriyaki, lamb kabobs, pork sausage, chicken breast, bratwurst, kielbasa and beef tenderloin all grilled and seasoned to perfection. The samples segued nicely into conversations with farmers and spurred sales averaging $100 per farm.

“Customers were interested in how we raise our animals and this gave us the time to explain the nuances of cattle production and processing, said John Steria from Hillside Angus CNY. This opportunity gave us a chance to work on our promotion skills and materials. Many bought steaks and hamburger patties from us and found out where we were located for maybe even more sales. It was also great to meet other farmers and learn from them.”

For more information about the Taste of Central New York-Meat and Greet Event, contact Marylynn Collins at 315.736.3394 Ext. 132.