north country


Fri May 24, 2013

Upstate farmers get innovative to access major food markets

Eric Andrus of Ferrisbrug, Vt. working on the 'Ceres', the Vermont Sail Freight Project.
Sarah Harris NCPR

Most of the time, Eric Andrus is a beef and rice farmer. But lately, he’s learning to be a boat builder. On this day, he’s in the barn, sanding the hull of a big wooden barge.

“We’re about to apply the second layer of plywood,” Andrus says.

Andrus lives in Ferrisburg, Vt., near Lake Champlain. This fall, he plans to load up the boat with potatoes, grains, honey, apples, beans, and maple syrup, all produced in the Champlain Valley, and sail to markets further south. It’s called the Vermont Sail Freight project.

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Thu May 23, 2013

Corn and soybean prices driving up land values and farmer's tax bills

John Peck in the barn at the Peck Homestead Farm in Jefferson County.
Joanna Richards NCPR

Smaller farms in upstate New York are being squeezed by the valuation mechanisms that peg taxation to land values.

One of those challenges is property taxes. Agriculture is a land-intensive industry, so rising property taxes can mean much higher costs for farmers. And taxes have been rising, thanks mostly to increases in the production value of farmland.

Behind John Peck, about 30 barn cats maneuver around – and sometimes under – 60 milk cows in his small barn. The Peck Homestead Farm, in the town of Champion in Jefferson County, has been run by the Peck family for about 200 years.

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Wed May 15, 2013
Wind Energy

Maple Ridge wind farm, seven years on

Wind turbines from the Maple Ridge Wind Farm
License Some rights reserved by cementley Creative Commons License

Wind farms are a touchy subject in the North Country. As the town of Cape Vincent wrestles with a potential project, in neighboring Lewis County another wind farm has been operating for seven years. 

The hallways at Lowville Academy and Central School during lunchtime sound like any other: kids letting loose, getting out some pent-up energy before heading back into classrooms for the afternoon.

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Mon May 6, 2013

Energy grant helps Jefferson County dairy farm expand

John Ferry, co-owner of Milk Street Dairy in Tylerville, in Jefferson County, shows off his new dairy barn
Joanna Richards NCPR

A Tylerville dairy farm, in Jefferson County, is growing, in part thanks to help from National Grid. The company awarded the farm a grant of $50,000 to increase its access to electricity. 

Milk Street Dairy has grown quickly since it began in 2008, with a herd of 400 cows. Now up to about 1,000 animals, the farm's partners want to add 800 more by 2014.

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Sat April 27, 2013

Community comes out to support Fort Drum as Army makes cuts, reorganizes

State Sen. Patty Ritchie speaks in support of Fort Drum at a community listening session hosted by the Army Thursday at Case Middle School in Watertown.
Credit Joanna Richards / NCPR

About 200 community members turned up in a school auditorium in Watertown Thursday night in a showing of regional support for Fort Drum. The event was billed as a “listening session” for the Army, to inform a process of personnel cutbacks and reorganization currently affecting military installations around the country.  

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