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Local farmers conference gives agritourism industry chance to network, thrive

CORNING, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - Local farmers had the chance to network on Friday at the Finger Lakes Farm Country Conference at Corning Community College. 

The conference gives those in the agriculture business - from farmers to restaurants and wineries - a chance to learn more about working together and capitalizing on agritourism. 

A panel discussed talking about being visitor-ready, meaning not just growing and selling products to locals but also being prepared for tourist-related opportunities to expand their market.

"Agriculture is a tough business," Dave DeGolyer, the communications manager with Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes, said. "They work hard, they don't get a lot of money for all the effort they put into it, and to make people aware... that's part of it, to make the community aware, make each other aware that there are all these great products being created right here."

Chris Comstock, an attendee, says because of the conference, he's discovered nearby farms that he never knew existed. 

"Networking's always a problem for farms," Comstock, a farmhand at Mud Creek Bison Ranch, said. "We are all close together, but we never really communicate as much as we should because we're always busy."

The event helped other farmers realize that the issues they run into are common and it gives them a chance to find solutions together which can be cost-saving.

And on the menu: food from some of the farmers in attendance. In fact, 98 percent of the food served was locally sourced. 

The college's food services department came up with ways to present the farm-to-table meals creatively, showing that the Southern Tier is more than just beer and wine. 

"There's also a lot of people that do a lot of good things in our community as far as producing vegetables and fruits and locally sourced meats and things like that," Comstock added.

Dozens of farmers will still be at the school until 8:00 PM on Friday sampling their products for the public. The cost of entry is $10 per person. 

If you're a farmer yourself but missed the opportunity today, you can contact Cornell Cooperative Extension at (607) 664-2300 for future events. 


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