Tag Archive | "Brian Halweil"

Circling the Wagons

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By David McCabe

For years, food trucks have been huge on the streets of Manhattan, but in the Hamptons they are normally relegated to beach parking lots.

Now, for one night only, denizens of the East End can enjoy what office workers in Midtown Manhattan enjoy every day at the first Food Truck Derby, which is being held this Friday at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton.

The event is organized by Edible East End, a food magazine that has been published since 2005 and is part of a national chain of Edible publications. Its publisher, Brian Halweil, said the magazine wanted to bring a taste of food truck culture — which has reached a fever pitch around the country in recent years — to the East End.

A $50 ticket buys a guest a tasting portion from each of the trucks, as well as unlimited beer and wine.

“The concept was to create a food experience that doesn’t really exist out here but that we love from the city,” said Halweil.

Long Island, however, will not be entirely unrepresented amongst the trucks present. Hampton Coffee Company will have an espresso truck at the event, Halweil said, as well Wandering Palate, a truck that specializes in Long Island cuisine. Montaco, a Mexican food truck that’s normally parked at Ditch Plains in Montauk, will also be at the Derby.

Mars Ostarello, who owns Montaco, said her truck focuses on producing food that honors her Mexican heritage while using locally-sourced ingredients. Everything the truck serves is made from scratch, she said, from the blue-corn tortillas to the salsa.

This is not Montaco’s first Derby, so-to-speak. After their first season on the East End, the staff wanted to keep the truck open, so they took it down to Miami, where a food truck culture was just forming. That meant that five days a week, the taco truck was going to events like this weekend’s derby.

“So we’re pretty well versed on food truck derbies and gatherings of all types,” Ostarello said.

This weekend, they’ll be serving three types of tacos. Their fish taco, which is made with mahi and garnished with lettuce and chipotle mayonnaise, a chicken and salsa verde taco and a zucchini and roasted corn variant with hints of cumin and salsa verde.

Ostarello said that she doesn’t want the East End to become saturated with food trucks, as Manhattan has been. Instead, she praised the way the hamlet of Montauk as regulated vendors: only one food truck is allowed in each small beach parking lot, and two are allowed in larger spaces.

Other than a little more variety, she said, “I think we’re all good here.”

Some of the trucks featured in the event will be coming from their regular berths in New York City, including La Bella Torte, an Italian dessert truck based out of Brooklyn.

Joe Glaser, who owns the truck with his wife AnnMarie, went to culinary school when the recession of 2008 began, and he and his wife decided that it made more sense economically to open a truck rather than a brick-and-mortar store.

The truck specializes in traditional Italian desserts, and was nominated for a Vendy award after being in business for only four months.

“Everything that I do is classic Italian and I keep everything traditional,” Glaser said.

Halweil, for his part, hopes that this event will perhaps encourage more operators to create food trucks on the East End.

“We hope that this event encourages more food trucks to come out here and stay parked, at least for part of the summer,” Halweil said.

Meal is a Toast to Local Foods

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By Emily J Weitz

The idea of getting closer to the source is not a novel one any more. In its fourth year and growing strong, the Eat/Drink Local Festival is proof of this. What began as an inspired thought from the offices of Edible magazine has grown to include hundreds of small businesses around the tri-state area, joining together to support a movement.

“Eat Drink Local was conceived as a restaurant week with a mission,” says Brian Halweil, editor of Edible East End and publisher of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn. “We’re helping to point our readers towards those restaurants that support Edible’s mission, and to help boost the buying of local food and drink.”

The Eat/Drink Local Festival is more than a restaurant week, although restaurants from Manhattan to Montauk will be offering prix fixe specials. But there’s more to these specials than just offering a good deal. The connecting factor, in addition to the mission, is the specific ingredients used. Each year, the committee selects one ingredient for each day of Eat/Drink Local Week. These ingredients, eight in all, are seasonal, locally available, and underutilized. This year, the ingredients include spinach, eggs, goat (including milk, cheese, yogurt, and meat), radishes, rose wines, porgy, fava beans, and hops.

“These ingredients were crowd-sourced from our readers,” says Halweil. “[They] suggested them because they are products raised in our region that need more support. Buying local eggs or goat products, for instance, helps support all the farmers who have recently started keeping poultry and small livestock. Porgy are a delicious, but sometimes overlooked, local fish whose quotas New York state recently raised, which means fishers can catch more of them and we can eat more of them.”

Area restaurants getting involved with the movement include 1770 House, Almond, Babette’s, Bay Burger, Beacon, Foodie’s, Fresno, Nick and Toni’s, Race Lane, redbar, South Fork Kitchen, and the Sea Grille at Gurney’s.

“All the restaurants were curated and invited by Edible because they do a great job of featuring local produce, seafood, wine, beer and more,” says Halweil. “During the week, each is required to offer a prix-fixe featuring our seasonal ingredients… This is something that most of them do throughout the year, but this is a week where we draw attention to it.”

But Eat Drink Local takes steps beyond the restaurant offerings. It’s as much about preparing fresh local food at home, cracking open a bottle of wine in the backyard, or grabbing food from a local market for a picnic on the beach. Vineyards, breweries, cheese shops, and butchers are all getting involved, and a complete list can be seen at www.ediblemanhattan.com/guide.

It goes further, still. The passionate heart at the center of the movement is about knowledge and awareness. Events throughout the week are intended to inform and inspire. Most events take place in the city, like the chef demos and prize giveaways at the Grand Army Plaza farmers’ market in Brooklyn to kick off the week, on June 23. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) will host Eat Play Local at its Upper West Side location on June 27, and on June 28 the Edible Eat Drink Local Feast will feature the ingredients of Eat Drink Local Week at a special dinner at City Grit Culinary Salon. On the East End on June 30, the Silas Marder Gallery will host an evening of food and film in conjunction with the Parrish Art Museum.

Andrea Grover, Curator of Programs at the Parrish, put together a series of shorts that traces the history of eating and drinking local on the East End, and it will be shown on the outdoor screen at Marder’s. She drew from home movie footage as well as carefully cut documentaries. One short shows a home movie of an oyster bed planting in the 1950s. Another shows 16mm footage from the 30s and 40s of Fort Pond in Montauk, with green turtles and swordfish swimming around.

“They’re all about local food producers,” says Grover, “and I tried to cover a few decades. You’ll see how the landscape has evolved. They’re all short pieces, and fit together kind of like a collage. You walk away with a sense of the farming community, the artisan food community, the fishing community.”

In addition to a film about honeybee production, there will be a demo by the Bee’s Needs at Marder’s that night.

“Mary Woltz is a beekeeper,” says Alana Leland, director of the gallery at Marder’s. “She has the bees on the property here at Marder’s, and we sell her honey here in the shop. She’ll bring the box in near the gallery and will pull a sleeve of bees out so people can see the bees at work. It’s really fascinating to see up close.”

The Eat Drink Local Festival started in New York City, but there’s an argument that it is most relevant right here on the East End.

“We still have a diverse and vibrant agricultural community,” says Halweil. “And if we don’t support that community, then it will disappear from our landscape and surrounding waters. Wherever you are, eating local is good for your health, boosts the local economy, and means you get the freshest food. On the East End, it also connects you to your neighbors.”


Brian Halweil

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The editor of Edible East End and publisher of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn talks about how he became interested in agriculture, how mindsets are changing in how we produce and consume the food we eat and why the East End has long held onto agricultural and aquaculture traditions now made popular as sustainable food movement grows.

How did you first become interested in agriculture and our food system?

I was tracking climate change, population growth, freshwater scarcity, hunger, and other dismal trends for an environmental think tank. Agriculture was at the root of so many of these crises. So if you were concerned about the fate of the planet, not to mention your own health, food seemed the thing to focus on.

After taking a position at the environmental think tank World Watch Institute, researching and writing about factory farming, over fishing of our oceans and what you termed “the twin epidemics of obesity and hunger in the world” you found hope on the East End of Long Island. What did you discover?

The history of modern agriculture reads like a mass extinction event. Small farms gobbled by large ones. Crop varieties narrowed and lost. But to live and eat on the East End today is like watching that process unfold in reverse. Traditional farmers are willing to adapt and innovate, there’s a huge new crop of upstart food and drink makers and support for this local food and wine and more coming from bars, restaurants and IGA shoppers. There’s a new sheep farm in Southold, a handful of new breweries in Suffolk County, and just recently, a friend connected local food pantries with local farms. The pantries got fresh produce and the farms got a new customer.

Is that what you’re going to discuss in the “Happy Valley,” as the keynote speaker at the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture’s annual conference?

It’s the conference’s 20th anniversary, so I’m going to discuss how even though many of the ecological challenges remain today, I’m very hopeful for the coming years because every where you look you see governments, companies, communities and families turning to food as a solution to these problems. Growing food, farmers might help reduce climate change by locking up carbon in their soils faster than energy companies will shift away from oil and coal. And the best fix for our rising healthcare costs might be giving farmers and supermarkets incentives to sell more fruit and vegetables.

Do you see trends in sustainable food production, often found historically on the East End, spreading across the state and country, if not the world?

A lot of these ideas seem to have gone viral. They are growing without major government involvement or other support. I was part of a research effort last year to identify sustainable solutions to hunger in Africa. And all the most effective innovations — from reducing food waste, to investing in urban farming, to feeding kids in schools — were sprouting up in dozens of African countries. And those same innovations are happening in New York, on the East End, and around the country.

How valuable are the edible schoolyards we have seen pop up at virtually every major school on the South Fork?

With a childhood obesity epidemic, teaching our kids how to cook and garden may be some of the most important life skills they need. Even where the schoolyards are too small to raise more than a bit of food, they are still monumental in terms of getting kids to consider what they put in their mouths and where it comes from. They will grow up to be better eaters, better food shoppers and better food citizens.

Speaking of edible schoolyards and nutrition, in the last few weeks the scandal of the food world has of course been the revelation that southern chef Paula Deen, famous for dishes like the bacon, egg, donut burger, has type two Diabetes. What kind of an impact, do you think, chefs like Deen have had on American food culture?

The Food Network has turned some chefs into household names. But I think this story shows that we are beginning to face up to the fact that most of our nation’s health burden comes from what we eat. We have a former President who is openly promoting eating less meat to improve his health, and a current First Lady who is an ambassador for kitchen gardens that are sprouting on a scale we haven’t seen since the Victory Gardens of the 1940s.

You have traveled the world, and studied food production on virtually every continent it seems. How is sustainable food production ultimately tied to healthier economies?

Agriculture may not be the world’s most lucrative industry, but it is arguably the only industry we can’t do without. When the Greek economy collapsed recently, people left their jobs in the city to grow food with their grandparents in the country. Food and drink will always remain. And with more and more people making food and drink experiences a bigger part of their lives, agriculture is attracting more investment. That’s why the state is helping build the new food distribution and innovations hub in Riverhead, why New York City is starting to invest again in public food markets. Communities that raise or make a greater share of their food can keep their landscape green, put money in their neighbors pockets, and insulate themselves from food shocks elsewhere. Not to mention, enjoy fresher tastier food.

Speaking of, how was your oyster crop this year?

This was a good this season. They were extra plump and the flesh had a light-green tinge and a strong, briney flavor. We have to get to the hatchery for more spat. We also got four laying ducks, but they haven’t started laying. And we’re still cutting greens from our cold frames. I built them from about $30 worth of materials. They were the best investment I ever made.

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture Conference will be held February 1 through February 4 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, Pennsylvania. For more information, visit http://www.pasafarming.org.

Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee Votes Against Bulkhead on West Water Street

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Despite having seemingly secured the votes to adopt a resolution supporting a bulkhead project on West Water Street during a work session held two weeks ago, this week a majority of the Sag Harbor Village Harbor committee reversed their decision. They instead asked the village board to look at other options, or at the very least, provide the committee with a detailed report on why other counter-erosion efforts would prove ineffective on that section of beachfront.

For a decade now, erosion has plagued a portion of West Water Street, directly across from a now defunct condominium project. For over two years now, the current village board has been closely monitoring erosion at the site, which was left deteriorated in the wake of storms in 2009 through 2011, with whole sections of the embankment eroded to the point where some utility lines were exposed. Directly under the narrow roadway lie septic, water and electricity lines.

In June, Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren conceived formal plans to construct a 568-foot vinyl bulkhead at the beach as well as five four-by-four platforms with stairs to allow access to the beach and dockage.

The proposal still is awaiting New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) approval, although according to village officials the NYSDEC supports the concept of a bulkhead on the project and shot down several other counter-erosion options including the use of gabions — wire cages filled with rocks that would be placed against the embankment.

While Harbor Committee Chairman Bruce Tait has supported the project, last month he failed to find the votes to deem it consistent with the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Project (LWRP). At a work session late last month, Tait appeared to have secured some votes in favor of the project, but failed to find the same support during Monday night’s Harbor Committee meeting.

Before a vote was taken, Tait encouraged his board to at least vote the measure down or approve it rather than make no resolution and leave the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees without any feedback.

Tait added that he believes the village’s Harbor Management Plan, which dates back far before the LWRP to the 1960s, supports this kind of project.

The Harbor Management Plan notes the Harbor District in Sag Harbor has “been subject to extensive public investment that is exposed to flood hazards out of necessity,” read Tait directly from the document. “Therefore, the water dependent uses in the waterfront and marine zoning districts have a priority for shoreline hardening to protect them against the erosive forces of storm events … Where a substantial portion of the water-dependent use in the Harbor District has been bulkheaded, it may be desirable to continue the bulkheading along the full length of the use.”

“There are key words there: ‘may be’,” replied committee member Jeff Peters. “There has to be another way.”

Committee member Brian Halweil said that while that language supports bulkheading there is also language within several policies of the LWRP that do not.

He said unless he was shown evidence that other alternatives were ruled out, he was inclined to find it inconsistent with the LWRP.

Peters and John Christopher supported Halweil’s motion. Tait did not support the resolution and committee member Dr. Tom Halton was absent.

Halweil also asked the village board to look into a long term plan for the outflow pipe in that area, as well as more details on plantings and why there is no opportunity for planting beyond the bulkhead and down onto the existing beach.

Meanwhile, the committee continued to hold the line on its demand that applicants hoping for a wetlands permit fulfill at least the minimum requirement of a 25-foot wetlands buffer of native plants in order to be given approval — in particular, when it comes to its own membership.

Christopher, who recused himself from the discussion, has proposed a 668-square-foot addition on the upland side of his 92 Redwood Road home. His planner, Matt Ivans of Suffolk Environmental, originally proposed no additional wetlands buffer as the Christopher family has preserved a large expanse of wetlands on their property.

After months of debate, Ivans came back this week with a 15-foot wetlands buffer.

Tait said he would need to hear an argument for hardship, outside of wanting more lawn, in order for the application to gain his support.

Halweil said he believed the committee should take into account the fact the Christophers are building on the landward side of their home and are not adding a pool. He said he was willing to find the application consistent.

“There are three people voting on this board tonight and I think we need to hold the standards high,” said Tait.

“My personal fear is going to be like the Town of Southampton where every time you want to do something it is going to be another bite out of the apple, more and more and more buffer,” said Ivans.

Both Southampton and East Hampton towns are even more restrictive with their wetland setbacks.

As the committee was unable to reach consensus, they agreed to table the measure until next month’s November 14 meeting.

Similarly, David Sokolin’s wetlands permit applicant was also tabled. Sokolin has proposed a 13 by 25-foot swimming pool within his existing deck at 176 Redwood Road. Last month, his planner, Sean Barron, proposed at 10-foot wetlands buffer and was quickly sent back to the drawing board.

Sokolin argued on Monday night that he was sensitive to environmental issues, which was why he chose to construct the pool within the existing deck and not in the yard.

Barron added he has submitted a new plan with a 15-foot buffer, which does extend 20-feet if decking next to the bulkhead is counted as a part of the buffer plan.

Tait advised them to come back next month and show a plan that can get as close to the minimum requirement as possible, even if it means proposing 30-feet of buffer on the sides of the property and less in the center.

Warren added the committee is actually asked to enforce a 75-foot buffer, but can make exceptions. However, the code states that under no circumstances should they allow a buffer smaller than 25-feet in an effort to protect the wetlands and the waterfront of Sag Harbor.

“Take a big bite out of this, otherwise go to the zoning board of appeals,” said Tait. “There is an appeal process.”

Richard Pantina of 12 Notre Dame Road has proposed demolishing an existing house and building a new two-story home with a 2,934-square-footprint as well as a swimming pool, spa, stone patio and new sanitary system.

Last month, Tait and the committee asked that Ivans come back with a buffer larger than 25-feet given the scale of the development, and on Monday, Ivans delivered by proposing 35-feet of buffer to the wetlands.

He is expected to be granted his permit next month.

Harbor Committee Takes A Stand on Water Quality

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For the last two months, the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee has not been following its own village code when granting wetlands permits. This has allowed some applicants to maintain a smaller buffer of natural vegetation to wetlands than the law requires — a law drafted in an effort to protect what some consider to be Sag Harbor’s most valuable asset, it’s waterfront.

According to both Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren and village attorney Denise Schoen, the Sag Harbor Village law demands that when improving their properties, waterfront homeowners preserve all natural vegetation within 75-feet of the mean high water mark, or to the maximum extent practicable.

However, the code states that “in no event” should the committee allow a natural, vegetative buffer to the wetlands that is less than 25-feet, and if that area is already lawn, owners are tasked with replanting the land with native vegetation. On a handful of applications for wetlands permits this summer, the board did just that — allowed homeowners smaller buffers than the law requires. All the while, chairman Bruce Tait said he believed his committee was on “a slippery slope.”

On Monday night, the committee took a renewed hard stance on wetland buffers. They tabled several applications, including one by committee member John Christopher, as consultants were sent back to the drawing board and asked to try and meet the minimum 25-foot buffer requirement.

Christopher has proposed a 668-square-foot one-story addition upland of his home at 92 Redwood Road. Given that the family has maintained a section of natural vegetation on the wetlands, his consultant Matt Ivans asked the board waive the buffer requirement altogether.

However, Warren noted that while there are native plants bordering the wetlands on the Christopher property, the existing buffer ranges from 15-feet to just a few feet on some portions of the property.

On Monday night, Warren said he had talked with village attorney Schoen and was told it was her understanding that if an applicant does not have at least 25-feet of native plants buffering the wetlands, he or she must at least to attempt to achieve that goal. Otherwise a property owner needs to show the village why it would be a hardship to comply with the law.

“In most East End communities, the buffers are larger than this,” said Warren. “When we were looking at the code, we considered the fact that the lots in Sag Harbor were smaller, but the 25-foot minimum requirement has been in the village’s wetlands regulations for many years.”

“We may be able to get another 25-feet, but then we have no lawn,” argued Kim Christopher, who charged that her neighbors actually removed native plants from their waterfront before applying for a permit with the village so that they would be able to keep a larger lawn.

“So he is able to keep his lawn because they pulled out all the natural vegetation,” said Christopher. “I am not a lawyer, but that is not just.”

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will investigate any complaints of the removal of wetlands. Their fines can be as large as $10,000 per day, plus the cost of re-vegetation.

Dr. Tom Halton, who along with the whole committee was sympathetic that the Christophers appeared good stewards of their property, asked if the committee has any other recourse.

Tait suggested the Christophers’ look at a plan that creates large sections of natural buffer where the lawn is least important to them in order to reach an average 25-foot buffer across their waterfront. He added the Christophers had “substantial yardage” to work with and that he did not view it as a hardship for them to come up with a workable plan.

“There is a consensus on the East End of Long Island that in order to maintain water quality we need to establish a 75-foot buffer zone to the wetlands,” said Tait. “If you are in Southampton or East Hampton, you would have a much harder time with this. Now we are down to 25-feet and we as a committee are trying to establish a 25-foot buffer to the wetlands within the entire area covered in the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.”

For similar reasons, the board also tabled David Sokolin’s application for a permit to construct a swimming pool at his 176 Redwood Road residence, after his consultant said the project did not meet the required buffer to the wetlands.

Another waterfront homeowner, Richard Pantina, applied to the board to demolish an existing house at 12 Notre Dame Road and build a two-story house with a 2,934 footprint, as well as a pool, hot tub, stone patio, new drainage features and a new septic system.

Tait said he was pleased to see the improvements on the property, but given the scale of the project would like to see more than 25-feet of natural plants buffering the wetlands.

“This is a maxed out development,” said Warren.

Ivans, also representing Pantina, said he would ask his client if they can increase the buffer zone.

“In the spirit of this evening, let’s have some more,” said Tait.

Farmers and Foodies Talk with Senator

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SenatorGillibrand@QuailHill1

A group of farmers and foodies gathered in a barn at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett on Sunday and listened as New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand talked about the importance of small farms that supply Long Islanders with fresh food. The senator believes agriculture could be key in rebuilding the economy while also addressing issues like nutrition, obesity and keeping the nation’s food supply safe from contamination. So significant is agriculture and food production, she said, that the Senator believes it should be considered a national security issue.

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The event – organized by Edible Manhattan publisher and Edible East End editor Brian Halweil, Quail Hill Director and Farmer Scott Chaskey, Bonnie and Steve Munshin and Leigh Merinoff – was part of an effort by Senator Gillibrand to conduct “listening sessions” throughout the state with local farmers.

The senator’s tour comes as Congress prepares to debate the next Farm Bill renewal in 2012.

Gillibrand is the first New York Senator to sit on the Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. New York boasts over 35,000 farms on over 7.1 million acres, a fourth of the state’s land. The industry generates about $4.5 billion for New York’s economy.

In an interview following the event, Senator Gillibrand talked about why she believes Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which takes place at Quail Hill and at neighboring farms like Balsam Farm in Amagansett and Sunset Beach Farm in North Haven, are an economic benefit for both the farmers and the communities they serve.

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Senator Gillibrand announced a bill this June within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that seeks to promote CSA, which are designed so members can pay for a weekly share of the farm’s produce, either picking up a box with their yield for the week, or actually harvesting vegetables from the ground, as is done at Quail Hill.

There are more than 12,000 CSA farms operating throughout the country, with 350 in New York State. Senator Gillibrand’s Community Supported Agriculture Promotion Act’s competitive grant program would award federal funds to non-profit organizations, extension services and local and state governments to provide support for growers. That would range from marketing and business assistance to crop development and the development of innovative delivery and distribution programs to encourage growth and save costs.

Preference will be given to projects working with family farms, farms operated by or employing veterans — a particular passion of the junior senator — and those that reach out into “food deserts,” which are low income communities without access to fresh foods.

A resident of upstate New York, near Albany, Senator Gillibrand said that while her grandmother was certainly a grower, raising corn, zucchini, raspberries and other crops, her passion for CSA came after she learned more about agricultural issues. She learned first hand the influence farming has on local economies, providing employment as the country continues to struggle with joblessness. She also sees agriculture as an educational tool to combat health care issues like childhood obesity.

Supporting stateside agriculture is not only crucial to the economy, the senator said, adding that it is also a national security issue, pointing to the tainted milk scandal in China in 2010, among others. The senator said one of her focuses on the agricultural committee is drafting and supporting legislation that will allow the industry to grow, and create more jobs, as well as healthy food for the dinner table.

“We don’t want to lose New York as a food producer,” said Senator Gillibrand, adding that supporting small farms and the ability for them to branch out and sell specialty food items, which is an economic driver in the agriculture industry, is critical. She would like to see a stronger Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program to help farmers branch out into the production of jams or cheese for market sale.

She noted New York can proudly call itself “the center of Greek yogurt in the country.” Chobani, a Greek yogurt crafted in Central, New York, has become a nationwide staple for many, as Greek yogurt gained in popularity over the last five years.

Senator Gillibrand said she would like to work on behalf of Long Island farmers and those in the Hudson River Valley to seek some of the $1 billion in economic aid up for grabs in a regional competition created by Governor Andrew Cuomo to promote job growth throughout the state.

“I have talked to as many farmers as will listen to me,” said Senator Gillibrand. “They are great stewards of our state.”

Senator Gillibrand said the small, family farms are not only economic drivers in New York, but also bring in tourism dollars, drawing visitors interested in wine or cheese trails as a new kind of culinary vacation.

“That is very valuable on Long Island,” she said. “And very valuable in the Finger Lakes.”

Agriculture also has the ability to teach our children where their food comes from, added Senator Gillibrand, an increasingly more critical kind of education as childhood obesity rates continue to skyrocket.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 17 percent — or 12.5 million — children ages two to 19 are obese. In New York State, 10 to 15 percent of children are obese.

“Our children just don’t understand where their food comes from,” she said.

A member of the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives, Senator Gillibrand also sees the ability to create jobs in agriculture for veterans, who like many are facing high unemployment rates among their ranks. Working in agriculture would provide an opportunity to learn about nutrition, but also about small business, she said. Senator Gillibrand also added the act of farming can aid post -traumatic stress disorder.

Senator Gillibrand also enjoyed the sweeter side of agriculture on Sunday, tucking into two servings of local berry cobbler while talking to Chatsky, other farmers, chefs and writers.

“I like raspberry,” she said.