Last week, at Cornell Cooperative Extension Franklin County Annual Dinner, we enjoyed the culinary creations of Chef John Vargo of Eat N’ Meet Grill in Saranac Lake. Our dessert included mixed berry pies.
This past Tuesday, students at Syracuse University enjoyed a meal of local corn on the cob, roasted beets and winter squash. On November 9th, they will again enjoy samplings of local farm products purchased direct from the farm. So why am I mentioning this here? Well the products came from NNY.
Why am I mentioning these events here? Well the berries that we had at the CCE annual dinner were flash frozen at the end of July and stored for our later use. And the corn that the students enjoyed in Syracuse was blanched and flash frozen, vacuumed sealed for their use.
The processing made possible through the Harvest Kitchen at Comlinks Gleaning Warehouse here in Malone, the final pieces of their equipment was in place the end of July this year. And since then Comlinks has been working with CCE to process locally grown farm products for later sale. Comlinks has been processing and supplying local products to the Malone Central School District this year. Students have been feasting on local corn on the cob, green beans, summer squash, locally grown potatoes and much more.
Ideally, it is great to enjoy local farm products fresh, but given our growing season and the school calendar don’t match up well, the ability to freeze products, such as corn, beans and squash for the schools to use later works out rather well. The farmers are able to extend their market season by having those products available for later sale.
The cost of processing? Comlinks asks that the farmers provide them 30% of the amount being processed, which goes into Comlinks food pantry supply chain. So the folks who are accessing the local food pantries here in the North Country are also getting locally grown farm products. It is a win-win for the farmers, Comlinks and the end-users. Rather than having to outlay cash for the processing farmers are able to get the service on the raw agricultural products they are bringing into the Harvest Kitchen.
These products then can be later sold to stores and restaurants. Here are some tips from Hobby Farms Magazine about Farm-to-School Marketing. To learn more about the Farm-to-School program here in New York State visit: http://farmtoschool.cce.cornell.edu/