Written by Lizzy Moore ’20
Lizzy Moore ’20 displays at the Madison County Fair.
This summer I have been given the opportunity to work with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County through the Upstate Institute Summer Field School. Nationally, the Cooperative Extension System is an educational partnership between County, State, and Federal government that addresses public needs by providing non-formal higher education and learning activities to farmers, ranchers, communities, youth, and families throughout the nation. To achieve this, university faculty members translate science-based research results into language appropriate for targeted audiences. County-based educators work with local citizens and interest groups to solve problems, evaluate the effectiveness of learning tools, and collect grassroots input to prioritize future research. As New York’s land grant university Cornell administers the system in this state. Cornell Cooperative Extension is present in every county of New York State and all five boroughs of New York City, directly reaching 1.9 million people each year. CCE programming covers five primary mission areas: Agriculture, Community, Environment, Nutrition, and Youth and Families. CCE provides educational resources for people interested in starting an agricultural enterprise, or farmers and ranchers looking to innovate and remain viable. The agency runs the local 4-H program, which engages youth in agricultural and STEM activities. CCE also creates events and informational materials to educate the general community about local agriculture and environmental issues.
The Agriculture Economic Development program within Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County aims to maintain, develop, and promote a viable agricultural economy that benefits Madison County. The first priority is to market Madison County’s agricultural products and services, which will result in higher profits for local agriculturists. The second priority is to assist existing farmers and attract and support new farmers in order to support a viable agricultural economy in the county. The AED program achieves this through diverse initiatives. The program assists local agriculturists and entrepreneurs through grant writing, workshops, and technical support. AED provides resources to consumers in order to help them find a Farmers’ Market, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or find out where to buy local meat. The AED program also plans the Open Farm Day of Madison County, an annual event that allows visitors to experience local agriculture up-close, as agriculturists across the county open their gates to the public for farm tours, demonstrations, food tastings, and animal interaction.
The goal of my project is to increase consumer flow to local farmers’ markets. I am working with a pilot farmers’ market to help them develop brochures, social media advertising, and a consumer satisfaction survey, in order to promote their market effectively. By the end of the summer, my goal is to create a guidebook for farmers’ markets, which can be given out to any market in the county, that details everything from creating a social media account to designing print advertising to developing their own survey. My materials created for the pilot farmers’ market will be included in the guidebook as examples. This project is a component of AED’s mission to market agricultural products and services. By helping local farmers’ markets reach more consumers, AED can support local agriculturists who sell their products at these markets. This project also contributes to CCE’s overall goal of improving nutrition and connecting the community. Eating local produce is shown to improve nutrition and farmers’ markets are a wonderful opportunity for community members to connect with their neighbors, learn about their local farmers, and participate in environmental or nutritional educational programming.
I have spent my entire life living in a rural community in Upstate New York. I love talking to my fellow Colgate students about rural New York, and trying to help them to see it as the beautiful place that it is. I grew up feeling an incredible amount of support from my community in a variety of ways. I think that support allowed me to be successful academically and achieve my goal of studying at Colgate University. I applied to be a Field School Fellow because improving the lives of those living in Upstate New York is something wanted to spend my summer working toward. I was drawn to working with Madison County AED because agriculture has always been a very important part of my life. In high school, I worked on a dairy farm, milking cows and taking care of calves. I was a member of FFA for seven years, a chapter officer for three years, and a District President during my junior year. Every year of high school, I researched and gave speeches on the topic of increasing the amount of local, sustainable, fresh food in our diets. Working with AED to increase consumption of local produce from farmers’ markets seemed like a great way to continue this work that I have been so passionate about. As a Geography major, I am very interested in how people interact with their environment. This project is helping me understand how to work with local communities on the grassroots level to create a change in how they interact with their environment.