Popular Corn Maze returns to Willow Brook Farm. Area families looking for a bit of festive adventure this fall season won’t have to travel far to experience a memorable afternoon exploring the vast and creative corn maze at Willow Brook Farm in Millerton, NY. The farm itself is a fourth-generation dairy farm, each year the Beneke family begins planting their corn and designing the maze in May. With determined dedication to the design of the popular maze, Kenneth Beneke utilizes mowers to carve out the larger than life seasonal pictorial in the landscape of corn. Kenneth’s sister Heidi enjoys getting an insider’s perspective on the design ideas and knows first-hand the kind of dedication it takes to pull off such a massive undertaking, “My brother invests so much of his time and care each year to make this an attraction for our neighbors and families in our area, he consistently maintains the design with the mower and weed eater from summer to fall, a lot of time and work goes into it.”
Beyond the intricacy of the maze itself, Willow Brook offers a number attractions spanning the entire farm. Five years ago, Willow Brook opened its Farm Store and today, continues to sell their own pork, beef, eggs, the ever-popular sweet corn, gourmet groceries, a variety of cheese, local vegetables, fruit and gifts for the entire family. In addition to their growing farm stand, the Beneke family has opened its entire farm to the public offering tours of the acres of farmland and a unique look at the day-to-day operations of a modern, family-run, dairy farm. The growing popularity of Willow Brook Farm is proof that dedication to craft and fervent passion for providing generational quality is what drives local agriculture and the surrounding community has taken notice. As the holidays approach and in addition to their seasonal food offerings, Willow Brook also encourages everyone to register for a turkey for Thanksgiving and to stop by for every variety of holiday trimmings.
To experience Willow Brook Farm for yourself, stop by the farm at 196 Old Post Road 4 in Millerton, NY. The maze at Willow Brook is open Thursday-Sunday 10am-6pm, tickets are $7 and kids under five can participate free of charge. For more information visit thefarmstoreatwillowbrook.com
After weeks of deliberation and careful consideration, one of the area’s most popular farmers markets has decided to extend its season into November. Earlier this month, the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market announced its season will be extended until November 16, giving locals, travellers, vendors, and artisans an additional three weeks to experience the very best of what the Hudson Valley has to offer. Traditionally, the market runs from Memorial day until Halloween each year. In 2014, the market decided to experiment with a one-time Holiday Market in December of that year and four years later an entire Winter Market during the winter of 2018, “The vendors welcomed the opportunity to extend their selling period, and many customers were happy to continue to have access to their favorite products. In that regard it was a success” recalls Laura Griffin one of the market’s directors. This year, the market is trying something new yet again, this time in the form of 3-week extension that will allow customers to access the market’s wealth of local offerings right up until Thanksgiving. The market’s Steering Committee made note to consult the vendors before going forward with the extension and, perhaps unsurprisingly, all were in favor. The feeling amongst the market’s various customers matches the enthusiasm of the market’s vendors, whose offerings bring the local area to life for those looking to taste and experience the Hudson Valley. Ms.Griffin looks forward to presenting vendors and customers with another opportunity to explore this local favorite, “The farming season is surprisingly longer than many people think, so our farmers will have plenty to offer, as will all of the other food producers and we have assured everyone that our hours will remain the same as the regular season.”
For more information on the Copake Hillsdale Farmers market visit copakehillsdalefarmersmarket.com or check them out on Facebook @CopakeHillsdaleFarmersMarket
Ongoing tariffs on Chinese goods shock US corn and soybean prices.
As summer winds down and comes to a close in the Hudson Valley, so too does the growing season for many area farmers. With the all-too crucial fall harvest just around the corner, farmers across the region have good reason to keep their eyes on the prices of agricultural commodities nationwide. On Monday, August 12, the US Department of Agriculture released its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report (WASDE) revealing a decline in the price of most agricultural commodities stateside. For many of the country’s economists, it’s the current tariff and trade war between China and the US that has resulted in the current shortage of demand in corn and soybean products. According to a report from seekingaplha.com, “The US is the world’s leading producer and exporter of corn and soybeans and a significant exporter of wheat around the globe. China is a nation with the second-leading GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and the most mouths to feed. With 1.4 billion people, China is a significant part of the demand side of the equation for agricultural commodities, and the trade war has caused the Asian nation to retaliate against US producers.” Though the drop in prices across the board may feel nice on the consumer’s wallet, it often means farmers’ incomes are in danger of dropping when there is too much supply.
Could this drop in commodity price affect farming in the Hudson Valley?
Perhaps not, in part because New York’s agricultural income is primarily dependent on livestock and what they produce, namely milk, for which New York is the third largest producer in the nation. As the leading fruit and vegetable producer along the eastern seaboard, New York’s agricultural economy also relies on consumables like apples to drive state income. Even still, as the latest WASDE report shows, foreign trade wars over agricultural commodities are always capable of posing a threat to domestic products. This is where organizations like the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) come in, with a mission to enhance agricultural development through helpful financial solutions. Initiatives like Incubator Without Walls offer comprehensive business planning, grant writing, and land access in order to ensure the economic sustainability of local farms despite volatile market fluctuations. Though the trade war with China hasn’t made its way east with its agricultural impact, local farmers are keenly aware of economic uncertainties, but with the help of sustainability organizations, they can take comfort in the fact that support is never far away.
For more information on the latest WASDE report, visit usda.gov, and to check out more on HVADC, visit hvadc.org for more info.