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April 21, 2014
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Celebrating our past and envisioning a sustainable local food system for the future

TRR photo by Sandy Long


Farming and agriculture has impacted our region in so many ways and Cornell Cooperative Extension is proud to have played such an important role in insuring the success of this vital industry. Cooperative Extension was founded in 1914 with the mission of “bringing the world class research of Cornell University to the residents of Sullivan County.” As we celebrate our past 100 years, we also pause to look back over time and realize the amazing progress that has been made. Extension has provided many services to our residents over the past decades and helped define modern day agriculture. In addition, we have seen many transformations, especially as we moved into 21st century farming, with more conventional agriculture taking root and moving to a more global food system.

Today, as we look ahead to the next 100 years, we see many exciting opportunities and challenges on the horizon. As we look at the many diverse areas throughout the region, we see the future of the Upper Delaware River as playing an important role in the serious need for helping to build a more local or “regional” food system. The concept of aggregating agricultural products from nearby and more distant farms for a central regional distribution system is known as a “food hub,” and the Delaware River Valley is ideally situated to serve New York, Philadelphia and New Jersey in this capacity. Food intakes can be sourced as far away as central Pennsylvania and western New York such as the Finger Lakes. These products can include cheese, cheese curds, yogurt, ice cream, butter, eggs, fresh and frozen meat as well as value-added, processed foods from small-scale producers. Food security and economic growth will be insured by such a system. These products will be transported by truck and by rail (there is still freight running along the river) to our cities to feed our urban citizens better with our own regionally grown food. As in the past, the food demands of the metropolitan areas are critical to our plan of success. Cornell Cooperative Extension’s efforts will be crucial in helping to build this food hub by bridging urban and rural connections and by assisting with the marketing and sales components of this newly revitalized food system.