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Field and Forest, by Richard Gast

Birds of a feather

Birds of a feather flock together. It’s a metaphor dating back to the 16th century; used even then in alluding to people with similar interests, motivation, loyalties or like minds. It’s also a straightforward reference to the fact that birds congregate with others of their own species. So, ...

Coming to terms with solar energy development

Perhaps the most significant energy question in the North Country in the coming year will be the potential long-term advantages and/or disadvantages of advancing industrial-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) project development in the region. Solar power represents a significant opportunity for ...

The politics of cheese

I enjoy a wide variety of dairy products. And I especially like cheese. All sorts of cheese: hard, soft, sharp, mild, pungent, curds, sliced, shredded, cubed, balled, spread, powdered, creamed and whipped. A little tossed into my breakfast omelet; a slice, perhaps two, on my sandwich at ...

After a lifetime of service, Rick LeVitre is retiring from Extension

After seven years of executive directorship at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County and two years of double-duty as executive director at CCE of both Franklin and Essex counties, Rick LeVitre is retiring. I remember the apprehension I felt when Rick arrived at Franklin County ...

Poinsettias have a long, colorful history

Poinsettias are among the most popular potted flowering or foliage plants of the Christmas season. They have been for decades. According to the most recent United States Department of Agriculture statistics available, the wholesale value of U.S. grown poinsettias was roughly $140 million in ...

Make houseplants part of your home’s winter decor

In winter, when we spend most of our time indoors, houseplants can add beauty, color, warmth, and contrast to living spaces. Several scientific studies indicate that they improve indoor air quality, too. Successful houseplant horticulture doesn't have to be difficult. You need to start ...

Wild turkeys face an uncertain future

The wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, is one of only two domesticated birds native to North America. The Muscovy duck is the other. Five sub-species make up the entire North American population. The most abundant is the eastern wild turkey — sub-species silvestris, meaning forest — ...

Septic system care and maintenance tips

Septic systems are used to treat and dispose of wastewater. When properly used and maintained, they safeguard human, animal, and plant health by breaking down wastewater and removing potential contaminants. It’s a two-step process. The septic tank allow solids in the wastewater to ...

The legend of jack-o-lantern

Perhaps the single-most-recognizable symbol of the Halloween season is the traditional hollowed out pumpkin carved into a smiling or ominous, illuminated-in-the-dark face. But, “Why,” I’ve often been asked, “is it called a jack-o-lantern?” While much of what’s known is ambiguous ...

Prepare next year’s garden beds now — without digging or tilling

If you’re thinking about a new garden bed for next spring, you need to start preparing now. You need to select an appropriate site, keeping in mind that adequate sunlight is essential, as is good air circulation and, in most cases, relatively level ground. Good soil is essential, too. In ...

Shiitake Mushroom Cultivation workshop

It’s easy and fun to cultivate edible mushrooms using logs, stumps, or other mediums (i.e. straw, corn cobs), and the moist shade of your wooded property. Each mushroom variety offers its own unique, often nutty flavor. And mushrooms are packed full of nutrients: things like B-vitamins, ...

Become aware of invasive species and their potential consequences

It seemed like a good idea. Let’s start a silk industry in the United States. Silk is a valuable cloth in demand all over the world. And insects do the work. All we need to do is import some gypsy moths from France, then just sit back and wait for the money to roll in. So, the moths were ...

Advancing a soil health movement

On July 18, the New York Soil Health Initiative hosted the state’s first Soil Health Summit. The summit provided an opportunity for attending farmers, researchers, agriculture service professionals, government agencies, nonprofits, policy makers interested in advancing soil health efforts, ...

Examining potential threats to monarch butterfly migration

The monarch butterfly may be the most recognized butterfly in the world. With the exception of the polar regions, the medium-size butterflies can be found on every continent on Earth. Their spectacular migration in eastern North America, from breeding locations in Canada and the United ...

It’s National Ice Cream Month

You know it’s hot outside when you stop by a friend’s home on the Fourth of July, he’s got a growler of Township 7 Raspberry Haze ale and a half-gallon of Stewart’s butter pecan ice-cream on the kitchen counter, and he’s making himself a craft-beer float. “Try one!” he said. ...

We should stop buying bottled water

I don’t actually remember the first time I saw single-serving bottles of water for sale. But I do remember thinking that it was crazy! Who would pay for water? Was I ever wrong! According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, which provides management consulting, research, and ...

Adirondack Harvest North Country Farmers Markets are now open for the season

Farmers markets have existed as a part of American society, business and trade since 1634, when the first farmers market in the new world opened for business in Boston, Massachusetts. And throughout much of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, outdoor market places were vital centers of commerce ...

Intense caterpillars

They hang around on finely spun strands of silky string, blue-black caterpillars parachuting ever so slowly to earth, landing in yards, crawling around on decks and porches — even finding their way into homes. Over the past few weeks, several people have asked me about them. Some have ...

Foraging for wild food and medicinal plants

If you go... --- What: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County’s Wild Edibles and Medicinal History Workshop When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 26 Where: 4H Camp Overlook; Beach Road, Mountain View. How much: $85 includes all materials and lunch - Reduced ...

Understanding the importance of wild pollinators to orchard crop viability

If you’re like me, you enjoy the beauty of colorful flowers and love eating fresh fruits and vegetables. You recognize that many of the medicines and supplements we use come from plants. And you realize that the astounding diversity of ornamental, food and medicinal plants that we grow or ...