Local Fair brings together farmers, students, and community

Mann Library hosted the 4th annual Local Fair to showcase agriculture, goods, and non-profits...

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By D.W. Nutt via The Ithaca Journal, 11/16/12

The Ivy League got a little greener Thursday as Cornell University co-hosted the fourth annual Local Fair at Mann Library.

A variety of area growers and community groups gathered in a market setting as students, faculty and local residents crowded around the tables, sorting through diverse wares. Hilker Haven Farm and Apiary of Ithaca was doing brisk business, selling their homemade jellies and jams.

Shirley Hilker, who runs the farm with her husband, Bill, said it was their fourth year participating in the fair.

“I love being around the young people and they like our product,” she said. “Our specialty is horseradish jam. It’s our own recipe. That’s what people come back for.”

Sara Worden, Community-Supported Agriculture coordinator with the Full Plate Farm Collective, set up a table to promote her group’s winter CSA. The collective makes an effort to connect with busy students and offers several food drop-off sites on campus.

“We have a lot of members that are walking by and just saying ‘hi,’” she said. “It’s nice to be up in their territory, instead of them coming to the farm.”

Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, the Cornell Small Farms Program and the Ithaca Farmers’ Market partnered together to host the event — the theme of which was Local Ideas that Work! — with the goal of celebrating the Finger Lakes region’s food, fiber and energy systems, as well as the local economy.

For Lisa Ferguson, of Laughing Goat Fiber Farm, that local emphasis is important for small businesses such as hers.

“Money that’s spent with local vendors stays in the community,” she said. “You can also have a relationship with the farmer. I have people who come out to buy yarn or finished goods and they are getting to know the animals as well, and learning that my operation keeps open space, which is good for the environment, good for the lake. ... And it makes me responsible to them.”

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