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July 13, 2014
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Agritourism blossoms in Sullivan County; Local farms schedule summertime tours

By Isabel Braverman

Sean Zigmund and Cheyenne Miller are already deep into the 2013 spring and summer growing season, rising at dawn and working till dusk and still never quite finishing all that needs to be done. But offered the choice, they wouldn’t want to have any other job.

On a beautiful spring Sunday, I visited their farm, Root n’ Roost Farm (www.rootnroost.com) in White Sulphur Springs, NY. While Sean was busy working, Cheyenne kindly gave me a tour of their two-and-a-half-acre farm, complete with chickens, pigs, veggies and more.

The couple offers tours of their farm every weekend, along with a farm stand, but this summer, they will join a larger network of farms that offer tours as part of Farmstock, a Sullivan-County-born idea to bring the public to the farms, that is being held throughout the summer. Cheyenne said it’s a great way to educate people about farming. “Hands-on exposure to how food is produced plays a huge role in motivating people to buy their food from local farms and support our local economy,” she said.

Both Cheyenne and Amy Erlwein, an organizer of Farmstock who owns Erlwein Farms in Jeffersonville, said that kids love the farm tours. Cheyenne added that kids will come to the farm and see “where bacon comes from and collect their own eggs for breakfast.” As we stood by the pig pens, the chickens roamed around and pecked at my legs, something I’ve never experienced and that is, quite frankly, scary. Cheyenne assuaged my fears and picked up one of the chickens, cradling it in her arms for a few minutes.

The pecking chickens and lovable pigs are things that we don’t often get to see—the behind the scenes of local farms. Many people in Sullivan County and surrounding areas have probably never been to a farm, despite the abundance of them nearby. Agriculture represents one of the largest economic sectors in Sullivan County, with the combined output value of agriculture exceeding $68,000,000 in 2010. Farmstock brings the people to the source, and lets them learn and play farmer for a day.

Farmstock was started in March 2010 by a group of “farm women” who saw their farms dwindling. They started a farm network, and out of an interest in trying to educate people, they started Farmstock.

“They wanted to have people come and visit the farms to see how their food is raised and what farmers go through to bring food to the table,” said Erlwein.

Farmstock started with four or five farms, and last year, they did 12 events. This year, there will be nine events.