Laura Hunsberger is the Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension(CCE) in Allegany County and will make her extensive monthly presentation to the Resource Management Committee on Wednesday May 19th. In a preview of that presentation, which is provided to the public prior to each monthly meeting, the taxpayer can clearly see the direct impact CCE has on agriculture in Allegany County.
Livestock, Ag Economic Development and Natural Resources is providing a range of services from workshops on cultivating berries, poultry farming, and pasture management. In-depth assistance is provided to farmers on a individual basis on a range of topics: Water testing, soil testing, meat processing, COVID guidance from Ag & Markets for on-farm markets. Residents: rental rates for land, Ag Value Assessment, pond maintenance, tree questions, soil testing. Both new and established farmers are relying on CCE for comprehensive assistance.
Science & Technology Opportunities for Rural Youth has begun the work of expanding the Master Gardener Program with a Junior Master Gardener Program. Workshops are being planned for this growing season!
The Master Gardener Program itself has been very busy this spring, providing multiple workshops to residents, both virtual and in the garden. Shade Gardening—Via Zoom and Spring Garden Tour—In-person, both with MaryLu Wells. The experts in the program have published multiple articles in the local press addressing seasonal garden topics. CCE is very happy to announce a new addition to this popular public service: Master Gardener Training Program beginning in 2021! Stay tuned for more details!
Cassandra Bull, CCE Farm-To-School Coordinator, held an Earth Day Event at Genesee Valley School and provided a sunflower planting workshop for students. Ms. Bull also organized a group effort at The Environmental Garden House at Alfred University to refurbish the garden. Read her full report of the work CCE is doing with local institutions:
Alfred University Environmental House Garden: Working with students from Alfred University to revitalize the University’s garden, assemble a garden committee, and support student composting projects. This student / community group was awarded $1,600 from Alfred University’s student senate to help in the construction of the garden. Their plan is to build 12 raised beds in year 1.
CCE Harvest NY: Continuing with the statewide data collection project for the NY 30% project. Released a supplemental survey to distribute to qualifying school districts that will aid in our final report. This survey was approved through Cornell University’s Institutional Review Board late in March and has been sent to NY Cafeteria Managers. UPDATE: 70% of Food Service Directors completed the survey. These Directors represent 88% of the School Food Authorities that qualified for the NY 30% in SY 19-20. This gives us a very representative sample for qualitative analysis. Analysis is currently underway.
Allegany County Sheriff’s Office: Working with the team at the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office for the Farm to School Processing partnership. Three districts have submitted their request forms an aggregate amount of 4,500 pounds. The bid was released in Mid-April and closes on May 4th. Results are to be announced in Mid-May.
NY 30% Initiative Audit – Whitesville: Helping Whitesville CSD prepare for their NY 30% Initiative Audit from the NYS Dept. of Education’s Child Nutrition Department. This includes gathering information from Whitesville’s local tracking spreadsheet, gathering documentation from the agribusinesses they purchased local products from, and demonstrating how local products were used for both breakfast and lunch.
Developed Yard-Sharing Program: See press release below. Yard-sharing is an informal arrangement where a landowner allows a gardener access to land, typically a front or back yard, to grow food. Cornell Cooperative Extension Allegany County is looking to connect these two distinct groups of residents in a new pilot match-making program. Even though we do not expect this to be a widely used program, we think it is important to integrate equity and food access. It is important that our office facilitates / empowers individuals to grow their own food, even if they do not have access to (or ownership of) land.
Andover CSD: Working with a senior student to develop curriculum for lower grades in Andover to learn more about local food and farming. She is designing “the lessons she wanted to learn” during her public-school experience, and I am helping to support and encourage her project.
Genesee Valley Earth Day Celebration: On April 23, we gave an all-day program to 270 K-6 students at Genesee Valley. Our program integrated food and farming with the core principles of earth day. We taught students how to plant seeds and used a Socratic method to ask questions about why we and how we take care of plants in specific ways. We used sunflowers as the plants for the day and tied them to Earth Day principles as well: they are native species, they aid in bioremediation, and they produce food that we eat.
Alfred-Almond ($2,140), Genesee Valley ($3,661), Scio ($3,260), Canaseraga ($1,039), and Wellsville ($6,039) get awarded funds from the NY 30% Initiative. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, School Food Associations (SFAs) had to either switch to Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or Seamless Summer Option in order to provide emergency feeding services to students. In September 2020, the NYS government announced that SFAs who qualified for the NY 30% Initiative in SY 2019-20 would not receive the additional 19 cents per meal if they were operating under the SFSP (our district included). This is because SFSP reimbursement rates are higher than regular in-school rates, and NYS did not want to increase reimbursement rates further due to budget constraints. However, in March 2021, the NYS government announced they would partially reimburse schools who put forth extra effort and achieved the 30% local ingredient goal. This shows the state’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of the NY 30% Initiative, which is a good sign the program is here to stay despite our economic situation.
The 4H and Youth Development Programs are key to establishing the agricultural workforce and farmers of the future. Multiple programs are ongoing and coordinators are happy to be planning on a major 4H presence at this years Allegany County Fair!
4-H Cooks, 5-part cooking series, has successfully wrapped up. This was a joint venture with NYS SNAP- Ed program that taught members and their families how to make low cost, healthy meal options. Participants requested a follow up program, plans are to begins a second cooking series in early June.
Livestock clinics continue to be successful educational opportunities for our members. Members will be visiting a hog farm this month and have the ability to participate in a socially distant, in person clinic.
This week NYS 4-H announced that despite plans for the NYS Fair to be open, 4-H will not have a presence there. It has been determined that with the guidelines and protocols, it would not be a safe environment for members, staff or animals. Attention is going to focus again on a virtual State Fair for Youth Building items as well as plans for a wildly successful return in 2022!
A virtual Livestock Skillathon has been planned for this year. The event will take place over Kahoot and will allow members to compete and answer trivia questions at their own pace over the virtual app. This is a low stakes competition where the goal is education (members can seek out correct answers.) All participants will receive a facemask for their effort.
Friday June 4th, Allegany County 4-H will host their annual Clothing Revue! This event is scheduled to take place at the Allegany County Fair grounds and will feature fabric garments and crafts that members have created.
As of now, the Allegany County Fair is planning to hold their fair as scheduled. 4-H is looking forward to being a large part of the event. If these plans change, 4-H plans to offer private shows for it’s members and their families.
To learn more about how this valuable program benefits our county and the agriculture industry in our county, visit them online: http://allegany.cce.cornell.edu/