June 22, 2009


Organic farming on display

Preble farm highlights practice at 2nd annual Picnic at the Farm

Fathers DayJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Colin Sears, 8, of Homer, stops to pet goats while on a tour Saturday of Cobblestone Valley Farm in Preble. The event was organized by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York to inform the public about sustainable farming practices.

Staff Reporter
PREBLE — About 50 people pulled on rain coats and waded through muddy fields to participate in Cobblestone Valley Farm’s “A Picnic at the Farm” event on Saturday.
Maureen Knapp, one of the farm’s owners, said the farm on Preble Road started the event last year by inviting people to bring lunches and take tours of the farm, which includes approximately 80 dairy cows, strawberry fields and chickens.
“We invited vendors to come and make presentations this year because we wanted to provide more information about organic farming,” Knapp said. “We just wanted to take the event one step further.”
During the afternoon event, families huddled underneath tents to stay dry from the pouring rain and sipped free samples of organic chocolate milk or munched on an hamburger made from free-range beef from the Knapps’ farm.
There were also pamphlets on local places to find organic products, games of bingo and demonstrations on how to make compost to fertilize crops.
Milking demonstrations were in the dairy barn, but few seemed willing to brave the rain and muddy road filled with puddles to reach the barn.
Ken Smith said he came to the event with the New York Agricultural Land Trust to teach children about the source of food and understand the work that goes into raising animals and harvesting crops.
“There are some kids today that have never seen a chicken or a goat firsthand,” Smith said. “Events like these give kids a connection to their food.”
Smith brought a Civil War-era corn mill to the Picnic on the Farm and helped children crank the machine that removed dried kernels from the cobs. After the cranking was finished, Smith gave children a plastic bag and let them take home the cracked corn.
“Historically, this is a task that would’ve been done on a farm every day,” Smith said. “Most people don’t think about the work that goes into these kinds of tasks now.”
Samantha Sibert, 9, of Fayetteville, said she liked feeding two of the farm’s goats and making a bracelet with colored beads that represented different aspects of the earth such as sunshine, night time and plants.
Her sister, Alexandra Sibert, 10, said she was not certain how she could use the cracked corn but said that she planned to try to feed it to some baby skunks that live near her house.
Their neighbor, Frank Gattuso, said he brought the Siberts and his own two children to show them more about how food is made.
“We also have an organic garden at home and just wanted to get them more involved with the food-making process,” he added.
Despite the wet weather, Knapp said she was pleased with the turn out for the event.
“Just think of how many people would have come if the weather was better,” she said.


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