New York Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour Includes Announcement of ARC Grants for Regional Farmers Market, Food Distribution Hub
|ARC's June 2013 Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour in Appalachian New York included a visit to Finger Lakes Fresh, a hydroponics greenhouse in Ithaca that produces high-quality fresh local vegetables year-round. Shown are ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl (center) and Finger Lakes Fresh staffers Liz Keyser and Curran McKee. (Photo by Guy Land/ARC)|
ARC officials visited Appalachian New York June 25–28 as part of the Commission's ongoing Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour, highlighting the potential of local food systems to create economic opportunity and grow jobs in the Appalachian Region. The visit was ARC's seventh in the Appalachian states thus far, showcasing innovative local models and successful partnerships, examining practical obstacles, and celebrating regional success stories.
Visits and discussions conducted during the New York tour focused on key topics including the role of regional branding in strengthening the local food economy, and factors that make agritourism an effective economic development strategy. Among the local sites visited were farms, breweries, a yogurt production plant, wineries, a hydroponic greenhouse, and a farmers market.
The tour also highlighted New York's New Americans farmer development programs, which provide technical assistance, mentoring opportunities, and language instruction for recent immigrants to the state. Dierdre Scozzafava, ARC alternate for Governor Andrew Cuomo, led a visit in Ithaca to the ARC-supported New Americans "Path to Prosperity" project, a farm incubator providing training and support to Karen-Burmese refugees who have settled in the area, with the goal of promoting agricultural entrepreneurship while expanding agricultural production.
On June 26, ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl was joined on the tour by state and local officials in Binghamton to announce an ARC grant to Broome County for a proposed indoor regional farmers market. The market, scheduled to open in summer 2014 in Otsiningo Park, will have a projected $3 million impact on the region's economy in its first 18 months of operation.
A second ARC grant announcement was made on June 27, at Finger Lakes Fresh Greenhouse in Ithaca. The grant will support the creation of an 18,000-square-foot regional food hub near Groton that will serve as a central food processing, packaging, storage, and distribution center for local farmers, helping them build sustainable relationships with food purchasers and get products to market faster.
Gohl was also joined on the tour by New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales on June 27 to learn about the business and economic impacts of the fast-growing Finger Lakes wine industry; and by New York USDA Rural Development State Director Lee Telega in Ithaca for a wide-ranging discussion on the state's local food economy.
ARC launched the Appalachian Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour in Asheville, North Carolina, on March 20 at a conference of the Appalachia Funders Network, an informal association of national, regional, and local foundations that has identified local food systems as a priority for funding. The tour has since then included visits to Ohio, West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, in addition to New York. A July 11–12 visit is planned for Appalachian South Carolina.