For those of you living outside of beautiful, bustling Hamilton, NY for the summer, Saturday July 27th was Madison County Open Farm Day! The interactions we’ve had with other local food operations so far have been nothing but positive, from volunteering with the harvest effort at Common Thread Farm to checking out Hamilton College Community Farm. But between researching the “physiological leaf roll of the tomato” and sowing some late season kohlrabi seeds, there’s not nearly enough time to try getting our hands dirty at every farm in our neck of the woods. To us farming newbies, the Open Farm Day was a great chance to check out some of the growers behind the staples of the Hamilton Farmers Market.
While the wonderful Community Garden Internship affords Gabe and Skylar plenty of learning opportunities, the fields of mushroom farming and honey bee cultivation remained mysterious. First stopping at Highland Farms in our own backyard, we headed out to Fruit of the Fungi and learned the labor-intensive process of drilling holes in thousands of logs, cultivating mycelium, capping the logs with wax to retain moisture, waiting for a year, and then finally getting to start the actual mushroom growing process. As of now, there are definitely no plans for mushroom cultivation at the Community Garden.
We then set out for Johnston’s Honey Bee Farm, where we got some sweet posters. There was also a seriously sweet demonstration of the honey extraction process, including obligatory questions about how many times the farmers get stung (apparently hundreds, sometimes). The honeycombs are pulled out of the bee boxes and first capped with a hot iron to expose the raw honey. They’re then set into an extractor, and spun at speeds fast enough that the honey is forced out of the combs. Bee jealous, it was cool.
For next year, Madison County Open Farm Day is totally worth the trip!