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Rivermede to open farm stand in Lake Placid

May 25, 2010
By ERIC VOORHIS, News Staff Writer

LAKE PLACID - Although there's a lot of talk about eating local foods in Lake Placid - and even more bumper stickers - the options are limited. But a new farm stand that plans to open Saturday hopes to bring fresh produce and local products closer to the Olympic Village.

Rob Hastings, manager of Rivermede Farm in Keene Valley, said last week that he is expanding his operation by partnering with a private landowner in Lake Placid.

"We're really excited about this," Hastings said. "It's something that is sorely needed in Lake Placid. ... There's nowhere else to go that's nearby."

Three greenhouses stand on a 10-acre piece of farmland at 208 Riverside Drive next to a large brown barn where the new Rivermede location will open. Hastings said construction of the store's interior is almost complete - signs will be up soon.

He also said the farm stand will be open seven days a week.

"That's the biggest advantage to having a farm store over farmers' markets," Hastings said. "Farmers' markets are great, but this is a much more permanent thing."

Hastings said customers can expect spinach and spring greens by early June, although the operation will start small.

"To start off we're just going to have flowers and bedding plants," Hastings said. "But eventually we're going to offer fresh fruit, vegetables, jams and jellies, and we're planning on having local cheese and meat products at some point, all local and New York state products."

Hastings is partnering with Lesley and John Trevor, who operate Snowslip Farm on Riverside Drive with the help of their three children.

"What I want people to realize is that this is a family farm, through and through," Lesley Trevor said Monday afternoon. "I think it's a great way to extend to the community, which we are very much part of."

The Trevors relocated to Lake Placid two years ago from Connecticut. Lesley said she always dreamed of having a farm but never thought it would be in the Adirondacks with the added challenge of a mere 65-day growing season.

"Farming in the North Country is tough," she said. "But what's so neat about this is that by partnering, we're able to share the knowledge and resources to make something like this possible. We start planting this week."

She also said her husband, who is nearly 70, does the work of a 30-year-old and that each of her children know their way around farm equipment and aren't shy about construction.

"We're all so thrilled about this," she said. "You have to be with farming, because it's such hard work."

Hastings currently grows a wide variety of fresh produce in Keene Valley and has made use of season-extension techniques, developing practices that allow him to grow multiple crops 12 months a year in the challenging Adirondack climate.

He said the new farm in Lake Placid will produce a variety of crops, but he will also move produce back and forth between the new farm store and his current location in Keene Valley, which will remain his central operation.

"Fear not, Keene Valley," Hastings said. "You're not being forgotten."

Last year Hastings was recognized by the Glywood Center Inc. - whose mission is to help communities in the Northeast save farming - for his advances in season extension and also pesticide-free production on his farm. He was awarded Farmer of the Year, which is how the Trevors found him.

"They had heard about the award and contacted me because they wanted to have their land worked," Hastings said. "I wasn't really looking for anything more to do, but I said, 'What the heck?' and offered them three years of my life. We'll see what happens."

Hastings also underscored the importance of local farming in the region and said there are incredible health benefits.

"The longer something has been harvested, the more dead it is - the nutrients are gone," Hastings said. "It's easy to go to the big grocery stores and get a pineapple whenever you want, but it's fun to eat with the seasons. It's exciting to stop in and see that one day we might have fresh artichokes, or winter squash another day."

Hastings said there are also economic benefits and that the farm stand would keep the money in the community and is likely to employ 10 to 12 people.

"We're just hoping that people have patience as we build the business," Hastings said. "We're convinced this is going to be a great thing for the community."



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