About 550 full and part-time farmers own land encompassing over a third of the county and rent even more of the countryside, as part of their operations.
IT’S EASY AND FUN TO FIND TOMPKINS COUNTY FARM PRODUCTS. County farmers grow a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers, raise beef, pork, lamb, goat and poultry and process cheese, maple syrup and honey – contributing $18 million to the local economy. The well-known Ithaca Farmers’ Market has a permanent home on the waterfront of Cayuga Lake. The site includes a large covered pavilion along the lake inlet, a picnic area, docking facilities and extensive parking. The market features fresh, locally-grown produce, as well as plants, specialty baked goods, meats and cheeses, wine, condiments, ready-to-eat fare and a wide assortment of art, crafts, clothing and furniture. Featuring over 150 vendors, the Market’s products are all made or grown within a 30-mile radius of Ithaca. ww.ithacamarket.com.
Tompkins County experiences a moderate climate, with cold, snowy winters and sometimes hot and humid summers. The valley flatland has slightly milder weather in winter, and occasionally Ithacans experience simultaneous snow on the hills and rain in the valley. The natural vegetation of the area, seen in undeveloped and unfarmed areas, is northern temperate broadleaf forest, dominated by deciduous trees. Due to the microclimates created by the impact of the lakes, the region experiences a short but adequate growing season for winemaking, and as such is the gateway to the many fine wineries of the Cayuga Wine Trail.
In addition to the Ithaca Farmers’ Markets, there are smaller community markets in Trumansburg on Wednesday evenings (4-7) and on Saturdays in Lansing and Brooktondale where you can experience local small towns and local producers. Roadside stands can also be found throughout the County. A favorite fall activity is to visit Cornell Orchards on Rt. 366 or go to Pick Your Own apples at several area farms. The Cornell Plantations are botanical gardens, including the F.R. Newman Arboretum, located adjacent to the Cornell University campus. The arboretum contains fine collections of chestnuts, conifers, flowering crabapples, maples, oaks, urban trees, and walnuts. The gardens are open daily without charge. www.plantations.cornell.edu.
Local private gardens are also highlighted annually during Garden Conservancy Open Days. And for all Plant Lovers, the annual Spring Garden Fair and Plant Sale provides a fantastic selection of plants from over 50 garden groups and growers. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County works in cooperation with many area businesses, agencies and organizations to support agriculture in the community. The agency provides coordination of educational events for the non-farming public, promotes the purchase of local foods and products, and hosts workshops for farmers and rural landowners to help improve current or develop new enterprises. Staff can also help residents and visitors connect with local agriculture in many ways, from finding producers of specific products to arranging farm visits.
For more information, contact the Agriculture Program at 607-272-2292.