Archive for October, 2013

Ithaca Farmers Market Celebrates 40 Years

The Ithaca Farmers Market has several locations, aside from its main market at Steamboat Landing.

The Ithaca Farmers Market has several locations, aside from its main market at Steamboat Landing.

Kristof Ostlund and his crew set up his burrito stand, Solaz, at the Ithaca Farmers Market in 15 minutes, but they don’t start serving until every member of the crew has eaten. Ostlund makes a burrito about every 35 seconds; six hours at the Saturday market means Ostlund and his crew use over 700 tortillas.

Ostlund is one of over 160 vendors at the award-winning Ithaca Farmers Market, which celebrated its 40th anniversary October 27. The Ithaca Farmers Market hosts local produce, baked goods, crafts and wine vendors that sell on one or all of the five market days.

The Ithaca Farmers Market began with a collection of vendors coming together to sell produce in the parking lot of Agway on South Fulton Street. Since 1973, the market has moved five times and expanded to four separate locations besides the main market at Steamboat Landing.

The biggest challenge the market currently faces is making space for all the vendors at Steamboat Landing, and for visitors in the parking lot. Open five days a week, 52 weeks a year, the market often attracts well over 5,000 people a day.

“Now we have a pavilion at a major waterfront site and we’re one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area and one of the most important markets in the area too,” said Aaron Munzer, Assistant Manager of the Ithaca Farmers Market.

Diane Eggert, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Federation of New York said, “The Ithaca Farmers Market has set an example – the quality of products, the relationships with consumers as a whole – they’ve really served as a role model [for other farmers markets].”

There are markets in other towns, but the Ithaca Farmers Market was a success here because farmers found Ithaca had a large, reliable customer base where people regularly wanted to purchase their produce. The Ithaca Farmers Market is among 600 farmers markets in New York State.

While this may not be different from other farmers markets, it is important for farmers to have direct access to consumers and sell at retail prices because it “provides farmers with a higher profit margin than more traditional marketing outlets,” according to research done by the Farmers Market Federation of New York.

The Ithaca Farmers Market does not solely cater to organic growers, it plays a big part in the local food movement, as all of its vendors must have products grown and raised within 30 miles of the main market at Steamboat Landing, as set by the IFM Board of Directors.

“We don’t really have a role in the organic food movement, but I would say we are part of the local foods movement and I think that’s almost more important,” Munzer said. “Buying locally keeps the economy vibrant and healthy and folks are able to have viable farms.”

Ostlund gets organic black beans for his burritos from Potenza Organic Produce in Trumansburg, and other produce from his neighbor at the weekend market.

“Some products are local and some aren’t,” Ostlund said, “It just depends on the time of year and what’s available.”

While some market locations in Ithaca close in the upcoming weeks, the Ithaca Farmers Market remains open year-round. Ostlund is one vendor who sells at a few markets several weeks out of the year, but in his off-season from January to March he does income taxes for H&R Block.

“Doing somebody else’s taxes is like some huge puzzle you have to solve, it’s really neat. Doing your own taxes sucks,” Ostlund said as he made a customer’s burrito.

Solaz has been at the farmers market for 24 years, but from 1993 to 2001, Ostlund owned Coyote Loco, now Agava Restaurant, on Pine Tree Road in Ithaca.

Though Coyote Loco is now closed, Ostlund said he never gave up his booth at the market “because this is where the fun is.”

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Alexandra Leslie and Sara Webb are senior Journalism majors at Ithaca College. You can reach them at adleslie13@gmail.com and sara3webb@gmail.com.

“Lewis is Lost”

A drill for our multimedia class. Shot with a SONY 100 camera, edited in Avid Media Compressor.

Five Years Later, Dolce Delight Going Strong

Click here for our audio slideshow, featuring Dolce Delight owner, Maria Cacciotti Salino!

Click here for our audio slideshow, featuring Dolce Delight owner, Maria Cacciotti Salino!

Maria Cacciotti Salino wants to make you feel at home. When she opened Dolce Delight in August 2008 in the middle of an economic crisis, she was more concerned about making her customers feel welcome than about the looming economic crisis. Customers visiting smell freshly baked goods, hear oldies music played on her radio and see the open layout of her baking kitchen.

Salino is no stranger to food or running a business. Her family has a long line of small business owners, including Italian Carry Out on Danby Road in Ithaca, just next door to Dolce Delight. Some 916 local businesses, including Dolce Delight, opened in Tompkins County between January 2008 and December 2009, however the records in the Tompkins County Clerk’s Office do not indicate which of those businesses are still currently operating.

Although it is unclear how many businesses in Tompkins County survived the 2007-2009 recession, Salino said it is clear that the even without a sign, Dolce Delight still attracts commuters not only from Ithaca but Lansing, Dryden and Spencer.

Since opening, the business has worked with local proprietors, including Purity Ice Cream, Keuka Coffee and Ithaca Beer, among others, to incorporate their products in the bakery.

Dolce Delight, has risen just like the pastries that are baked there. The business started with only small toaster ovens, and Salino says the staff completed a Thanksgiving order with two of them. Dolce Delight has had a bit of an upgrade since then, but Salino still hopes to add more commercial appliances to the kitchen.

While she’s not at that point yet, Salino has gotten requests to expand and open more stores on the Commons and even as far as Lansing or Dryden. Salino says, “You have to have one business 100 percent in control before you can go do that.”

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Alexandra Leslie and Ryan Myers are senior Journalism majors at Ithaca College. You can email them at adleslie13@gmail.com and ryanspam560@gmail.com.

The apple doesn’t fall far at Littletree

A sign welcomes visitors to Littletree Orchards in Newfield, NY.

A sign welcomes visitors to Littletree Orchards in Newfield, NY.

Though their stand was not in the usual spot at the 31st annual Apple Fest this weekend, the line to buy apples, cider and donuts from Littletree Orchards stretched beyond the stand and into Seneca St.

A small farm run by the Steinkraus family in Newfield, NY, Littletree Orchards has been around since 1973 and is home to more than 10 thousand apple trees sporting sixty different varieties of fruit.

The Steinkraus’ youngest daughter, Amara, is no stranger to Apple Fest. Since she was born, Amara has lived on the farm and been working there since age 13. Steinkraus, 24, previously studied at Cornell University, but left to become Assistant Orchard Manager.

Steinkraus said Apple Fest is the busiest weekend of the year for the orchard and she spends the days leading up to it pressing apples into more than 1,800 gallons of cider.

Steinkraus’ orchard also makes cider donuts, which are in high demand at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market and Apple Fest every year. Steinkraus said her mother, who originally came up with the idea to make donuts, spends 12 hours a day each of the three-day festival churning out hundreds of donuts. Steinkraus says she buys the donut mix from a supplier in Rochester and they add their apple cider to it, but eventually plan to make their own recipe.

In addition to running the orchard, Steinkraus has been thinking about incorporating two of her other passions on to the farm. She plans to host various live music acts, but also wants to begin producing hard cider.

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Alexandra Leslie and Lewis Kendall are senior Journalism majors at Ithaca College. You can reach them at adleslie13@gmail.com and lewda.kendall22@gmail.com.

Get to know Harley

For a drill in class, we were asked in find someone on campus and get to know them. We found Harley, a facilities attendant, in the Center for Natural Sciences building. Here’s his story.

(Recorded with a zoom recorder, edited on ProTools and uploaded to Soundcloud.)