In June 2015, politicos and dignitaries gathered in Sharon Springs to officially open the Schoharie County Beverage Trail in an effort to coax tourism into the predominantly agricultural community.
“We are so excited to offer a trail that not only promotes local agriculture but creates a unique tourism draw,” said Lori Wortz, owner of KyMar Farm Winery and Distillery and President of the Schoharie County Beverage Trail. The idea would be to bring people more people into a county that boasts a population of approximately 30,000 people (about 10 times less than that of Albany County).
The Schoharie County Beverage Trail followed in the footsteps of the Adirondack Craft Beverage Trail, which had opened the previous summer. And, other such concepts followed suit in a concept commonly known as agritourism.
Successful business ventures are born through niche markets. Agritourism is such a market. It’s not a new concept, as you can witness several local farms running stores from beneath the shadows of their barns. But the the recent push for “farm-to-table” produce has made the business en vogue to a younger millennial generation determined to educate themselves on the products they purchase, including the food that they eat.
For example, Indian Ladder Farms has allowed visitors to pick their own apples, and purchase produce from its on-site store for years. However, it’s also stepped up its game by taking advantage of recent state legislation that allows the farm to produce and sell a craft alcoholic beverage, too. This is another trend to help boost business in an industry that often times squeezes out the non-commercial, family-owned farms.
This week, we have a Dickensian tale of two communities. The Colonie Spotlight features the story of a family-run farm that is finding success through agritourism. In The Spotlight, we have another feature on arguably the most familiar of farming families in Bethlehem fighting to keep a portion of its land in the family. If it fails, there is already a proposal to subdivide and develop it into scores of residential housing. Such are the two fates commonly experienced with local farms today: entice consumers onto the land to buy direct, or give up the farm to collect what could be a comfortable retirement.
We ascribe to the “farm-to-table” trend and hope it continues to develop beyond a passing fad and into a common practice. Our local farms have and will always need the support from the community. And that support pays off. After all, it’s always best to know where your food came from. Knowing the people who grew your food, and having trust in them, only assures you of its quality.