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Erie County Agricultural Society’s Farm 2 Table Program accolades

PROUD OF AGRICULTURE — Pictured, front row, from left: Russ Marquart, Paula Smith, Laura Kwilos, Laura Woloszyn, Jessica Underberg and American Farmland Trust award cosponsor David Haight. Back row: New York State Agricultural Society President Diane Held; Lyndsie Collis; Alpha Zeta at Cornell University and award cosponsor Sara Orlowski; Director of Agribusiness Development at Empire State Development Pat Hooker and New York Future Farms of America Foundation and award cosponsor Todd Lighthall. Photo submitted by Penny Heritage.
HAMBURG — The New York State Agricultural Society recognized the Erie County Agricultural Society’s Farm 2 Table Program with its Agricultural Promotion Award, during the 182nd Annual Agricultural Forum held in Syracuse. This award, which recognizes individuals or groups for their efforts to improve the understanding of agriculture in their communities, is cosponsored by Alpha Zeta at Cornell University, American Farmland Trust and the New York Future Farms of America Foundation.

The Erie County Fair is the main point of contact with the public for agriculture education, but the Erie County Agricultural Society members said they felt that educating students outside the 12 days of fair was just as important. With stated goals of educating area youth about production agriculture (how food reaches their table), utilizing The Fairgrounds’ facilities throughout the year and establishing relationships between the fair and the surrounding communities, the Farm 2 Table program was born.

Farm 2 Table is a field trip held for one week each, in October and June at the Erie County Fairgrounds, for third and fourth graders. Students journey through seven different hands-on stations, in which they learn about agriculture by completing different projects.

Station topics include Milkable Mabel’s Stable, where students learn about the process of milk from cow to carton and get the chance to interact with calves and “milk” a fiberglass cow. In the blacksmith shop, students watch a farrier make a horseshoe from a bar of steel and can ask questions about horses and the art of blacksmithing.

At The Sweet Truth, students hear from a local maple producer about how maple syrup is made and the differences between pure and imitation maple syrup.

Other station topics have included New York pork production, goat breeds, equine education, sheep and wool production, germination, corn and byproducts, recycling and environmental protection and New York farms and their growing season.

Farm 2 Table is produced by the Erie County Agricultural Society, with the help of sponsorships in the form of product donations. All staffing, volunteers and funding is arranged through the Erie County Agricultural Society.

Since 2010, more than 3,700 students have attended the Farm 2 Table series. Schools participating in Farm 2 Table have come from urban and suburban districts; in many cases, Farm 2 Table is a student’s first interaction with agriculture, livestock and their commodities.

One student who attended the trip said, “Thank you so much for putting your time into teaching us about New York state agriculture. I liked learning about the fruits and vegetables that grow in different seasons.”

For more information or to join the NYS Agricultural Society, visit www.nysagsociety.org or contact Executive Secretary Penny Heritage at 518-384-1715 or penny@nysagsociety.org.
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