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We still have glorious photos of flowers and vegetables planted in pieces of ground scattered across the region, from western Vermont to the Tug Hill, from the southern Adirondacks to Ottawa. Kinda cool. I’d imagine a lot of food is being...
Each week it gets better and better. Lilies and daisies, beans and peppers. There is so much variety in the gardens of our region. Your growing techniques range from precise, vigorous vegetable gardens to slightly wild and whimsical flower beds,...
  From my garden perch in DeKalb, and from looking through all of the photos you’ve been sending in, it appears that we’re having a banner growing year. Good mix of rain and sunshine. Of course, there are bugs and deer to challenge...
So why didn’t the zucchini cross the road? He didn’t want to become squash! Yes, indeed it’s time for squash jokes. Calabacin, cousa, courgette, cymling, cuccuzza, curcubita pepo, scallop, vegetable marrow, butterbar, crookneck,...
  Seems to me the weather has been cooperating nicely with gardening goals: a fairly balanced mix of sun and rain. And, it shows in your photographs of gardens from across the region. The collection today takes us from a school garden in Long...


Agriculture
Aug 20, 2014 — The EPA wants to "clarify" the scope of its oversight of water under the Clean Water Act. Big farm groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation call this a power grab that would place every ditch and mud puddle under federal regulation, forcing farmers to get permits for small trenches around the farm.
Aug 20, 2014 — The bread that Jules and Helen Rabin have made in their fieldstone oven for four decades has a cult following in central Vermont. But this may be the last summer they sell it at the farmers market.
Aug 12, 2014 — Studies warn that climate change will threaten corn production in coming decades. Meanwhile, farmers are experimenting with new planting methods in hopes of slowing soil erosion from torrential rains.
Aug 6, 2014 — The most contentious issue in Tuesday's Missouri primary was the "right to farm" amendment. It is meant to protect farmers and ranchers from state laws that would change or outlaw current practices.
Jul 14, 2014 — Some rookie farmers in northern Michigan are growing saskatoon, a shrub that looks like blueberry. They're also experimenting with it in the kitchen — in jams and pies.
 

Special Reports

Audio Series
Farm to Farm, Family to Family: David Sommerstein travels with NC dairy farmers to a Mexican village many of their migrant workers call home.
Audio Series
A Year on the Farm
In this monthly feature series, David Sommerstein follows life in the barn, on the fields, and in the farmhouse through the changing seasons on the Andrews dairy farm near Gouverneur NY. This series won the 2006 "Cap" Creal Journalism Award from the New York Agricultural Society.
Audio Series
Hispanic Workers on North Country Farms
Five years ago, just a handful of farmers in the North Country employed Hispanic workers. Now many use workers from Latin America. The transition can be a bumpy one, for farmers and for the people they hire. David Sommerstein tells their stories in this ongoing series.
Beekeeper
Audio Slideshow:
Beekeepers facing new challenges
Lucy Martin visits with Ontario beekeeper Terry McEvoy and talks about colony collapse disorder and other apiary ailments that raise concerns about the food supply.
Audio Slideshow
Sights & Sounds of the Dairy Princess Parade
We go to the sidelines of one of the big events on the annual dairy calendar, the St. Lawrence County Dairy Princess Parade in Canton. Fire engines, tractors, and floats rolled down Main Street on Saturday.
Audio Series
Diversifying North Country Farms
NCPR reporter David Sommestein's series on diversifying North Country farming won the 2003 “Cap” Creal Journalism Award from the New York State Agricultural Society.
Photo Audio Essay
Dairy Farming in the North Country
The time seemed right to look at the challenges facing dairy in the North Country. In part 1 we look at the price of milk, as seen through the eyes of one mid-size dairy farmer. In part 2 we visit a cheese manufacturer proposing drastic changes in the way North Country farmers do business. David Sommerstein reports.
Audio Slideshow
A Barn-Raising in Upper Jay (Real 6:23)
These days, most new barns are built quickly with steel frames and sheet-metal siding. But some landowners are taking a little more time, using methods and materials passed down over hundreds of years.
Photo Audio Essay
Saving New York's Historic Barns
Some of New York's oldest barns are getting facelifts. Todd Moe visited a Canton family's 1820 English threshing barn slated for restoration.
Tri-Town Packing co-owner Tom Liberty. Photo: David Sommerstein.
Tri-Town Packing co-owner Tom Liberty. Photo: David Sommerstein.

Local meat movement frets as Tri Town still in limbo

One of the North Country's few slaughterhouses and meat packing plants says it's trying to regain its certification for processing retail cuts of meat.

Tri Town Packing's co-owner Jeff Liberty says he is "working as diligently as possible" to resolve differences with federal meat inspectors. Liberty says he's hired a consultant from Iowa.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service says it withdrew its inspectors from Tri Town on July 17. A spokeswoman said by email that the USDA will continue to suspend inspection until it's confident Tri Town can "operate and produce product in a safe and wholesome way."

Tri Town is located in the northern St. Lawrence County town of Brasher Falls. It remains open for private meat orders, known as custom work.

But it's one of just four plants in the North Country that can prepare beef, pork, and lamb for sale in stores, restaurants, or at farmers markets. So farmers and businesses that rely on local meat sales are facing a shortage and looking for alternatives.  Go to full article
Anneke Larrance with her two young chickens, in the village of Canton.

Zoning 101: Who gets to have chickens?

Here in the North Country, we live in communities that are divided up into different zones: Town or village, residential or agricultural. But is a village also part of a town? Is a town more rural than a village? Different zones have different rules. How do those rules get written? What if people disagree? What if the rules conflict? Or overlap? It can get complicated.

Take Canton. And take chickens.

A couple of weeks ago, after a year-long debate, the Town of Canton decided to allow people to have chickens, with some big caveats. You have to submit a plan to the planning board, pay $40, you can have a maximum of six chickens. But the ironic thing is that the Village of Canton already allows chickens.  Go to full article
Tirza Smith, of the Whitten Family Farm, helps a customer outside the Midtown Apartments in Potsdam. Photo by Claire Woodcock.

Mobile farmers market brings produce to you

Farmer's markets and home gardens are bursting with fruits and vegetables. But some people can't make it to the market or have gardens of their own. A new mobile market has teamed up with Garden Share to bring fresh produce right to people's doorsteps.  Go to full article
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack<br />Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/celtico/4789746688/">mikescottnz</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to visit central NY

BRIDGEPORT, N.Y. (AP) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is headed to central New York to promote the government's new Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund.
...  Go to full article
Dr. Mara Smith thinks her "Athlete Minder" is a perfect new start-up for Lake Placid.  But she needs investors to move forward.  Photo:  Brian Mann

Can we end the North Country's investment drought?

Today in Washington DC, the Obama administration is hosting a conference designed to convince more investors to back entrepreneurs, start-ups and infrastructure projects in...  Go to full article
Root crops at the Glens Falls Farmers Market. Archive Photo of the Day: Stuart Delman, Chestertown NY.

North Country gets $1M agribusiness loan fund

The North Country will get a new one million dollar revolving loan fund to seed agricultural businesses. Empire State Development announced the fund Monday.  Go to full article
Photo: David Sommerstein

Dairy Farmers of America ends price suit for $50M

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- The cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has agreed to pay a total of $50 million to thousands of Northeast dairy farmers to settle antitrust...  Go to full article
Tri-Town Packing co-owner Tom Liberty. Photo: David Sommerstein

Schumer lends help in Tri-Town - USDA dispute

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer says he wants to help a St. Lawrence County slaughterhouse with a dispute with its meat inspectors.  Go to full article
Roger Hastings shears Dolly Llama. Photo: Sarah Harris

Dolly Llama, Daisy, and 14 alpacas get a haircut

Summer means shearing season. All across the North Country, sheep, alpacas, and llamas are getting serious haircuts and losing their winter coats. A couple weeks ago reporter...  Go to full article
Invasive wild parsnip. Avoid contact; avoid a nasty rash. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dmills727/3644070846/">Douglas Mills</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Beware the invasives; and small strawberries are good too!

Right about now, the roadsides can look more like flower gardens than some gardens do. Wonderful abundant mixes of color, texture, height: all the qualities you look for....  Go to full article

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