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Farm to plate: bridging the local food gap

By ANNA MEILER

WASHINGTON MILLS, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Central New York is full of farmland, but sometimes there's a disconnect when it comes to getting products to the plate.

Piggy Pats in Washington Mills hosted an event Monday to help close that gap. It was called 'Meet the Farmer,' but the milk, cheese, and meat producers there said for them it's all about meeting new customers.

"We're so busy working all the time on the farm that we don't have time to get out to market our product," said Dawn Seamon, who owns Sweet Graze Dairy with her husband.

It's not as easy as a Facebook post or a tweet. For these farmers, face value is priceless.

"I need to talk to people and I need to get them to try our cheese. Once that happens I normally sell to them so you can't do that over the Internet so it's been huge for us," said Tom Felio, who works for his family's company Three Village Cheese.

Cheese, meats, honey - Central New York's farmland has a lot to offer.

"It's a matter of making sure that people are aware that it's here and knowing that they have places they can purchase it," said Tim Hardiman, owner and executive chef at The Tailor and the Cook, a restaurant in downtown Utica that buys local.

Without this event, Hardiman may have never found Sweet Graze Dairy, which just started selling veal. Now, The The Tailor and the Cook may have a new menu item and the farmers may get a new customer.

"Years ago there were so many farms and that's when the economy was thriving because farmers put most of their money back into the economy. So when farmers are making money, everyone seems to be making money," said Seamon.

Farmers say when food production became modernized they lost the connection with the customer. Forging these relationships is helping drive the local food movement and they hope it keeps going strong.

"I see growing support so we just keep our fingers crossed and hope people care about where their food comes from," said Felio.

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