Adirondack Harvest has plans for future growth
By Holly Riddle
Adirondack Cuisine Trails, a previously volunteer-founded effort that, in 2021, was adopted by Adirondack Harvest, recently gotten a boost toward achieving broader recognition.
There are six separate Adirondack Cuisine Trails, all featuring a range of businesses, from orchards to breweries, wineries to restaurants. The trails center around Adirondack lakes, Ausable Valley, Champlain Valley, the North Country, Boquet Valley and the western shores of Lake Champlain. Businesses on each trail must be located within five miles of the official trail route and vetted businesses must offer a certain number or percentage of local products, year-round. The trail maps are available online and Adirondack Harvest is also in the process of making printed maps available at all trail stops.
“The trails are basically a suggested route that someone could take and then visit several locations that are open and welcoming to visitors, where they could either have an experience with a farm or they could buy local products or they could eat at a restaurant that serves local products,” said Mary Godnick, Adirondack Harvest’s communication coordinator.
Adirondack Harvest, living beneath the Cornell Cooperative Extension umbrella, has recently received grant funding and the necessary resources to fine-tune the trails’ identity and their purpose, while spreading the trails’ reach.
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In addition to introducing visitors to agritourism destinations throughout the region, the trails also serve another important purpose: spreading the region’s often-centralized tourist crowds across a larger area to enjoy sustainable recreation.
“The trails offer an alternative recreation opportunity for tourists, especially with so much happening with the demand for more management of hiking and paddling destinations. It’s just another way to offer people things to do. It’s definitely a sustainable recreation opportunity, because getting people on farms and educated about farms helps increase lifelong awareness of agriculture and the impacts of being more locally minded.”
For those businesses that have chosen to be listed on their nearest Adirondack Cuisine Trail, the benefits stretch even further. For Dawn Karlson, board president at Ticonderoga Natural Foods Co-op, which is featured on the Champlain Valley Cuisine Trail, the trail lends the co-op an extra layer of legitimacy and increases exposure, which attracts not just travelers, but locals, too.
“The values of the Adirondack Cuisine Trails, and of Adirondack Harvest in general, align really well with the co-op’s. We’re all about healthy food access. We’re all about supporting local farmers and local producers,” said Karlson. “Being listed on the [Adirondack Cuisine Trails] website helps us get our word out to the kind of customer base that is already interested in our type of product, which is excellent.”
The Ticonderoga Natural Foods Co-op was founded in 2014 to address the area’s food desert and Karlson said the co-op sees a mixture of local and tourist customers, with an increase in sales between Memorial and Columbus Days, coinciding with the area’s increase in seasonal residents.
“[The co-op] is a great place to grab a snack or a little bit of grab-and-go food. If you’re going for a hike or going for a little trip on the lake, you can pick up your picnic there,” she added.
Dan Rivera is the owner of Triple Green Jade Farm in Willsboro, New York, which is listed on the Boquet Valley Cuisine Trail. Rivera was part of the group that helped initially form the original iteration of the cuisine trails and he said he was “very excited” when the trails launched anew with Adirondack Harvest. He said, “Agritourism is the future for farms and food experiences and can play a critical part in growing and developing rural economies. We’re foodies at heart and we’ve always wanted our farm to be a place for the Adirondack community to enjoy. We’re just two people and having a farm on 80 acres is plenty enough to share it with everyone.”
However, while the Adirondack Cuisine Trails are still in their infancy, Godnick and Adirondack Harvest have even bigger plans. In 2023, Adirondack Harvest plans to join with partners in Vermont, Quebec and Ontario to create the International Farm and Culinary Trail, which will be the first and largest international agritourism trail in the world, encompassing two states, two provinces and two countries over a thousand miles.
“The hope is that it will help increase tourism through Vermont, Canada and New York, and help guide people who are visiting Vermont for their agricultural offerings to the Adirondacks and visitors to Quebec who are visiting markets in the city to also visit markets in the Adirondacks,” explained Godnick. “It’s a huge opportunity. There’s a lot of support all around and it’s a totally unique thing that’s not happening anywhere else in the world.”
Rivera added that the opportunity for inclusion on the International Farm and Culinary Trail will be one of the biggest benefits of being part of the Adirondack Cuisine Trails overall. He said, “we expect the promotional capabilities of a trail that size to have quite an impact not only for us, but for the Champlain Valley and greater Adirondack region as well … The opportunity for other local small farms and food producers in the ADK region to open their doors to agritourism is massive. What we need next is to develop a critical mass of high-quality and consistent farm and food experiences that make the trails worth traveling, the way Vermont and Quebec have been doing for some time now.”