Food & Agriculture


Notes on Saving Seeds
Long-time Potsdam, NY gardener
Mary-Ann Cateforis shares her years of experience and experimentation with us in  this detailed and entertaining "white paper" on seed saving!   Click here to view!
Also, a general, non-local, but amazing resource that covers planting, inbreeding, harvest and processing seeds of many varieties is HERE

Notes on Planting Seedlings & Transplants:
Dulli Tengeler
has been gardening at Birdsfoot Farm for 20 years and shares with you the basics of plant starts.  Click here to view!

Much more information also available here:
Scroll down to the "Gardening & Food Preservation" area for many resources!

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Local  Bees  &  BeeKeeping

Join our Bee Discussion Groups for Novices, or Advanced and/or All Natural (chemical-free) beekeepers on the 4th Wednesday of the month -- also, click here to view our Resource page,

"The Bee Hive".

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Garden Share
Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County

St. Lawrence Land Trust

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What Your Garden Weeds Are Trying To Tell You
Hints about soil types and more!
(click on title above to view this Sub-Page)

UShare Vegetable Information Sheets
Very thorough informational sheets on over a dozen of the more popular garden veggies in the North Country, pulled together from different sources by the UShare garden group at the Canton, NY Unitarian-Universalist Church.

 USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning  

Click here to view these 7 documents covering both water-bath and pressure canning of all manner of foodstuffs, including meat, acidic foods, fruits, vegetables, pickled foods, jams and jellies.
Adobe Reader 10 (or higher) is need to view and print the USDA canning files. You can download the free Adobe 9.2 Reader from or go to your local library to view or print out selected pages on their computers.

The December 2009
Complete Guide to Home Canning is also being sold in print form by Purdue Extension's Education Store.  The online store is located at

Other Canning Resources, from Mother Earth News
The ABC's of Canning
Learn to Can for Homegrown Flavor

Interested in Raising Chickens?

Click here for a pretty good little primer on how-to and what to expect.

Eggs from hens raised where they can eat seeds, grass and bugs are far more nutritious than eggs from confined hens in factory farms. MOTHER EARTH NEWS research shows that eggs from hens raised on pasture have:
  • 1⁄3 less cholesterol
  • 1⁄4 less saturated fat
  • 2⁄3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
  • 4 to 6 times more vitamin D

For detailed information on the attributes of over 75 chicken breeds, check out this link.

Here's another thing to know about homegrown chickens --
they are more nutritious and flavorful than store-bought chickens, but require different cooking techniques. Learn different methods of cooking both different ages and different breeds of chickens here.

 Planning the Garden: A Self-Paced Workshop on CD 

Developed and presented by Diane Green in 2011, this CD shares planning information when you most need it and outlines it in such a way that you don’t have to read an entire book to figure out what you need to do to plan for a successful gardening season.

 Food, Cooking & Nutrition 
Food traditions brought to you by the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Note that some vegetarians are not happy with the philosophy of this organization.  Other folks in the area are into it.  We include all resources that may be of value to you, and let you determine how best to use the information provided.

 Small-scale Grain Growing 
This book review and other links will give you some "food for thought" on growing grains in your own backyard!
Note that some celiacs sufferers may not be happy with this information.  Other folks in the area are into it.  We include all resources that may be of value to you, and let you determine how best to use the information provided.

 Inter-planting Crops for Variable Harvest is Easy! 
The folks at the Seed Library share some tips with you on how, what and when to plant to keep your crops productive all season long!

Note that some "future primitives" are not happy with what farming has done to/for our civilization.  Other folks in the area are into it.  We include all resources that may be of value to you, and let you determine how best to use the information provided.

 Home Maple Syrup Production 
Boiling Down:  It is recommended that you build a simple outdoor stove for boiling down - it is not recommended to do (most) of it in the house, unless you like peeling wallpaper, sugar-laden steam condensation on everything in your house, or trying to clean overboiled sugars out of every nook and cranny of your stove when you get that phone call or the kid takes a fall, etc. 
There's a good chance one of these things will happen - for every gallon of syrup you make, about 40 gallons of water must boil off in to the environment; where will it all go? 
Check out the easy outdoor stove they show you how to make at this site:
Another informative site:
Neither site talks much about why you should finish off the syrup in the kitchen instead of outdoors though.  Here's the scoop:  you need to VERY carefully regulate the temperature just before bottling.  Where we are, in the St. Lawrence River Valley, if it goes over 219 degrees, it will crystallize in the jar, and be a bit of wasted effort (not entirely, but not nice pourable stuff for your pancakes!) 
The idea is to get it up to 217, 218 degrees outdoors on a wood fire (which is harder to regulate the temp) and then move it indoors and "finish it" with a more easily regulated stove temperature, with the thermometer stuck right in it until you see it hit the magic 219; then remove from heat and bottle quickly.  If you accidentally go over 219 before bottling, no worries!  Add more sap and bring it back up to temperature.  (Adjust your boiling point for your elevation, of course.)

Thanks to Old Market Farm Hardy Roses (plus select northern-hardy berry bushes, fruit trees, hops and garlic) for some local "flavor" in writing this up!

Note that some diabetics may not be happy with this information.  Other folks in the area drink raw sap straight from the tree.  We include all resources that may be of value to you, and let you determine how best to use the information provided.

G. M. O. ’s
("Genetically Modified Organisms" being added to our food): 

Learn about the various products that do and do not contain GMO’s.

A tutorial and tips on GMO's and how to avoid them as much as possible.  Includes a Shopper's Guide of companies and products committed to being GMO-free, by category of foodstuff.  Print-able 20 page guide from The Center for Food Safety is here:  The Shoppers’ Guide is also on a free app for iPhone and Androids (see page 20 of Guide).


Click here to view a five minute video foray to Vietnam, where 28 generations over 300 years have developed this
2-acre food forest garden that feeds the family and provides all the medicinal plants they need.


"Value Added" means foods that are processed (canned, frozen, dried, smoked, etc.)
in order to add the value of selling the food product on the market as packaged goods.

    New York State Small Scale Food Processors Association
NOTE: The Sustainable Living Project is one of the local "1000 Islands Region" representatives for the SSFPA and is active on their Board of Directors.

   NYS Farmers' Direct Marketing Association

   Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship at the New York State Food Venture Center

    Here are several excellent resources from the 2011 Value Added Institute of the NY Small-Scale Food Processors Assn.  (see link above)


The following resource list was suggested to our Preserving the Harvest class by instructor, Elizabeth Beals of Beth’s Farm Kitchen

  1. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a GREAT resource at

  2. The pH meter that is inexpensive and easily ordered is called a Checker pH meter.  You can order it online or at Amazon: http// Inc-Hl98103-Checker/dp/B000WTELF4

  3. The Book of Yields is indispensable in giving weight measure to volume conversions for non-water like substances. It gives you average yields on produce, depending on how you process them. Very valuable and recommend everyone get one. Purchasing/dp/047145785X

  4. Canned Acidified Foods  Link with explanation of why food establishments have to register their facility and low-acid foods (while tomato products are not low-acid and don’t need to be registered with FDA, you STILL need a scheduled process for them):

  5. FDA Facility Registration  Here is the website to register your facility with the FDA (unless you are exempt)

  6. Label Laws  Here is the food label law packet link. It’s 122 pages, but really exhaustive and well explained information packet on how you properly label your product. You don’t have to pay money to a fancy label maker to comply.


SPIN-Farming® 2.0 Guide

SPIN-Farming 2.0: Production Planning & Crop Profiles quantifies exactly how much money a farmer can generate for 40 crops grown on less than an acre.  SPIN stands for “small plot intensive,” and it is a system that combines intensive production with a direct marketing business model.  The book is available on the website, either as a download or hard copy.  The SLP isn't endorsing this system (we haven't used it), but it does sound interesting.  Here's the site for more information:

A FREE online course for beginning farmers, "Acquiring Your Farm" takes farm seekers through a comprehensive,step-by-step investigation of options and strategies focused on access to land and farms.  There are 7 topic modules. Each topic is loaded with content, plus stories and resources. Every topic includes tools, worksheets and checklists. The course is designed so that each learner can come away with a customized farm acquisition action plan. is a new (March 2012) website for beginning farmers, a USDA-Farm Bureau collaboration to develop a Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse for new and beginning farmers.

 Marketing Resources 

Selling to to Restaurants  ATTRA Guide #IP255, 2004  an informative outline on Direct Marketing to Restaurants

Glynwood Guide to Serving Local Food on Your Menu
  an invaluable resource according to restauranteurs.  As a farmer, you need to read these things as well, so you can connect on the same level with your customers.

"Selling Produce to Restaurants"
, Diane Green, 1999 a trade publication with news, advice and resources for market farmers a listing service of farms, CSA's, stores, restaurants, etc. relating to local foods.

NY Market Maker
a blog by NY Cornell Cooperative Extension that helps educate on "why" local foods.

 Agricultural Agencies and Helpful Organizations 

   Agricultural Market Service at USDA

   Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a comprehensive working lands conservation program designed to protect and improve natural resources and the environment for generations to come. CSP provides technical and financial assistance to farmers to actively manage and maintain existing systems and to implement additional conservation activities on land.

   Cornell Cooperative Extension

   Farmers Market Federation of New York:

   National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition:

   National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: The latest in sustainable agriculture and organic farming news, events, and funding opportunities.

   New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets:

   Northern New York Agricultural Development Program: The site offers informational resources, press releases and fact sheet for a wide variety farming topics.

   NY Farms!:

   North East Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG):
  The Northeast's food and farm network — a 12-state collaborative working for a sustainable, healthy and secure regional food system.

   Small Farm Resources:

   Sustainable Farming: Know your Farmer, How the USDA Can help: USDA programs/grants can be confusing and most Farmers and rural conservation / development groups are unaware of what the USDA has to offer.        

   United States Department of Agriculture: