October 18, 2021

Families find a farm-filled weekend

Ellyanna Godfrey, 4, went down the tunnel slide at Trinity Valley Dairy so many times Saturday her parents were worried they’d never convince her to leave.

But all it took was mentioning the fuzzy alpacas she could pet at the next stop on the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Four-County Farm Trail tour, and she was ready to go.

“We planned to come up this way into Cortland, to stop by two or three farms and shop around,” said Ellyanna’s mother, Kristen Godfrey. “We’ve been here at least a half-hour, and all Ellyanna wants to do is go over and talk to the alpacas and feed them.”

The family traveled from Whitney Point to check out the robotic milking machines at Trinity Valley Dairy, pick out a few pumpkins from the Villnave Family Farm and feed the alpacas at Tartan Acres.

“It’s great for people to be out here,” said Tartan Acres co-owner Ken Clark. He’s celebrating 20 years since he first started the alpaca farm and is looking forward to the years to come now that he’s retired.

Tartan Acres welcomed several dozen people to its alpaca barn over the weekend — many of them couples enjoying a day in the autumn sun, said co-owner Brenda Clark.

Although the Godfreys couldn’t take home any of the fluffy alpaca babies, they didn’t leave empty-handed. The Clarks set up an arts and crafts table to decorate alpaca drawings by gluing real alpaca hair to the paper.

“I hope the extension involves us in the tour again next year,” Brenda Clark said.

“My husband could talk about alpacas ’til the cows come home — and we don’t have cows, so that would be a very long time.”

Dana Havas, agriculture team leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County, said her team hopes to make the farm trail an annual event in Cortland County — which was added to Broome, Tioga and Chenango counties this year — and invite more farms to participate, such as a Christmas tree farm or maple farm.

“Agriculture is a huge industry. This is a way to better understand how agriculture impacts our day-to day lives here in Cortland County,” Havas said.

The farm trail is an opportunity for people to see the behind-the-scenes of farms that are not typically open to the public, Havas said.

“This is about advocating for agriculture and farming in our community and getting people to go on the farms and see what’s taking place there,” Havas said.

At Main Street Farms, visitors could explore the hemp fields and learn more about what goes into hemp production, said Michelle Sason, education manager for the organic hemp product company Head & Heal, a part of the farm.

The self-guided tour included a terpene education and smelling station, a pumpkin patch, antique tractors and the hemp and vegetable fields.

“On a deeper level, having a tour on our hemp farm is an important step in normalizing the cannabis plant again after its prohibition,” Sason said. Recreational marijuana was legalized earlier this year. “I think that farm tours are important for communities to remember where their food comes from and know that the people working these fields are neighbors and friends.”