CANTON - The variety of agricultural ventures and their importance to the economy of St. Lawrence County will be explored in the fourth annual farm tour for county legislators and other officials.
The annual tour was started after the Board of Legislators had a heavy turnover as a way to give incoming lawmakers a deeper understanding of the role of agriculture, according to Mathilda M. Larson, a county planner.
It increases awareness and appreciation among local officials, she said. This is really their opportunity to see the successes and challenges.
The tour is not public but attracts participants from the county Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, Soil and Water Conservation, and similar organizations in addition to legislators.
This years tour Aug. 21 features stops at Double-H Sheep Company on Route 310 in Canton, Mapleview Dairy in Madrid, and Kent Family Growers in Lisbon. The final stop at the county courthouse parking lot will include a tour of North Country Pastureds mobile poultry processor if it is available by that date.
Dairy has always had a prominent role but there are other operations that have growing niches in the county, Ms. Larson said.
The sheep farm is a relatively recent operation partly owned by Cornell Cooperative Extension livestock educator Betsy F. Hodge.
Mapleview, 307 Jones Road, Madrid, is among the countys largest dairy cow operations, with 1,900 milking and dry cows.
David M. Fisher, one of the owners in the family-run operation, said he hoped legislators would come away with a better grasp of the multiplier effect different agricultural operations have on the countys overall economy. He also will stress the importance of agricultural diversity with some producers focusing on products for local use while others, like his familys operation, have a larger reach.
It takes a little bit of everything, he said.
At Kent Family Growers, which sells shares as a community supported agriculture operation, the focus is on organic vegetables.
If theyre curious, theyre welcome to see what we do, Daniel J. Kent said.
Mr. Kent and his wife, Megan L., grow tomatoes in a high tunnel to protect them from pathogens and have a second high tunnel under construction in which they hope to grow hardy greens for winter sales.
High tunnels are metal framed structures covered in plastic that allow farmers to have longer production times and which protects crops from adverse conditions.