Monday, January 2, 2012

Memorable Moments in Food and Farming 2011

In Ithaca and the Finger Lakes, 2011 was marked with highs and lows in food and farming. Here’s a recap:

As winter 2011 ended, farmers experienced heavy rains, delaying planting. Some farmers had to postpone their CSA start dates due to lack of produce. Farmers were hit hard again late in the season with heavy rainstorms following Hurricane Irene, which flooded many upstate farms

The local food community mourned the loss of Gary Redmond, founder of Regional Access, a local distributor.

And many were also shocked and saddened by the death of Debra Whiting, chef and owner of Red Newt Bistro, in June. Before her death, she had competed on the Food Network show Chopped.

Another Finger Lakes chef, Sam Izzo from Simply Red Bistro, appeared on a different episode of the same show – a sign that the region is gaining national recognition for culinary talent. 

This year, Ithaca’s Ludgate Farm and Market changed hands, then closed entirely due to dwindling sales. 

But in more hopeful news, many, many new food and farming enterprises and initiatives were recognized by this year’s Signs of Sustainability, awarded by Sustainable Tompkins.

This year also marked Ithaca’s first Food Justice Summit, which highlighted problems and solutions to food security, access, and obesity. Detroit’s Malik Yakini spoke at the event, and kids joined with chefs to show off their culinary skills in a Junior Iron Chef competition.

The future of farming and hydraulic fracturing is still under debate. The Tompkins County Council of Governments held a public hearing on the latest DEC document on hydraulic fracturing. Many, many farmers spoke out against hydrofracking, citing concerns over industrial impacts on farming, food production, and the rural character of our region.

As always, the food and farming scene continues to grow and change here in Ithaca, Tompkins County, and the Finger Lakes. Have something to add to the Memorable Moments in Food and Farming 2011? Comment below or email

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