Saturday, January 9, 2010

4 NY Farmers Selected for USDA Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committe

Earlier this week, USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack appointed 25 new members to the Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee for a two-year term -- including FOUR New Yorkers! Considering that several counties in NY State were declared disaster areas by the USDA this past fall due to heavy rains and the state's ag supply chain is severely broken this is uber good news for local farmers and eaters and everyone in between in the channels of distribution.

I decided to research the newly appointed NYers, and was pleased to dig up the following:

- Robert Nolan, Deer Run Farms, Brookhaven, Suffolk Country, Long Island (Lighthearted Locavore territory) - Nolan operates a small, 30-acre family farm that grows specialty lettuces, chicory, and escarole. He is also the former president of the LI Farm Bureau and 4th generation farmer. For many years, Nolan has been involved with educating Long Island children on where their food comes from.

-Brent Roggie, National Grape Co-op Association (think Welch's Foods, Inc. makers of grape juice and jams), the town of Westfield in Chautaugua Country. There's not much info on Roggie on the internet, but I'm happy to share the importance of the grape co-op to New York.
Welch's is a top 100 food processor in the US and concord grapes are considered a "superfood" for their antioxidant power. NY State is considered the (concord) grape belt of the US - read more about juicy, purple concords from my Nov. 2008 post.

- Maureen Torrey Marshall, Torrey Farms, an 11th generation, 10,000 acre family farm, in Elba -- Genessee Country, NY. According to wiki, Torrey Farms is the largest vegetable farm in the state and grows many "specialty" products such as corn, carrots, cabbage, squash, cucumbers and potatoes. In 1997, the largest immigrant labor raid ever in the US was made on Torrey causing Torrey-Marshall and her family to lose nearly $2 million in crops during harvest season. It will be interesting to find out her current views on the rights of immigrant labor on farms as a result of her experience.

- Oscar Vizcarra, Becker Farms (and Vizcarra Vineyards), Gasport in Niagra County, NY. Established in 1894, this farm knows how to run a fun destination business. From apples and asparagus to hops, Reisling and squash, the farm grows fruits and vegetables, makes wine and now also brews beer! Vizcarra married into the Becker Farms family and grew up in relative poverty in New York City's South Bronx before ending up on a highly successful farm. The Becker-Vizcarras are known in the Buffalo area for their 100-mile radius meals, apple and pumpkin festivals, haunted hayrides, and events -- they even cater weddings -- as well as the wine. Interestingly, the USDA press release makes no mention of the wine grapes or Vizcarra Vineyards just Becker Farms.

Here's the press release from the USDA
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