All About Ag – Summer Agriculture in Upstate NY

As the growing season’s longest days drift by, we can’t help but stop and think about summer agriculture. While farmers work hard all year, there’s no time like the summer in Washington County to see the fruits of their labor! 

A major aspect of our region’s tourism revolves around agriculture. That’s why we call it “agri-tourism,” after all! 

From farm visits to dining experiences, our county is introducing visitors to a way of life we’ve enjoyed for decades, offering a glimpse into all that goes into making the incredible food we enjoy. 

In the summer, these opportunities multiply. 

The fields at Gardenworks Farm in Salem, NY

Summer agriculture in Upstate NY ranges from berries and fruit for picking; vegetables for farmers’ markets and grocery stores; dairy products of all kinds; honey and beeswax; meat and animal products; and more!

Once the chill breaks in the spring and the animals have calved, lambed, and kidded, it’s full steam ahead to get crops in the ground and pastures ready for livestock. By the official start of summer in June, many farms in our area are already lush with growth.

These months of hard work don’t stop, even when those summer veggies start to grow. 

Animals and plants need protection from the summer heat and ample water for those long hot days. Plus there’s weeding, soil amending, milking, pest control, crop scouting and so much more to do — all while we work to plan for fall, overwintering, and the next summer! 

Many farmers also use this “off” time to clean and inspect their equipment, ensuring each piece of machinery is ready to run come harvest time. When farm equipment does require repair, replacement, or upgrades, it’s better to know before crunch time!

And then, at long last, it’s time to harvest. 

Battenkill Valley Creamery LLC team harvesting hay for their dairy cows.

Whether a farm is open for u-pick or collects their harvest for sale at local markets, much of the produce you enjoy from Washington County is harvested by hand or in the case of some fruits like blueberries, semi-manually.  

Once greens are washed, stems are bunched, pints are packed, and stems are trimmed, it’s time to head to the market! That is, unless, a farmer makes goods with their harvest.

As if farmers weren’t busy already, many use this time to create finished foods, like jams and salsas, when fruits and vegetables are at peak freshness! It’s also a great time for farmers to incorporate fresh herbs and foraged goodies into their home goods, like bath and body products.

Some farmers also use this time to harvest and store animal feed for the winter months. While this involves large equipment, there’s lots of planning and short deadlines involved. Grain and hay must be dry enough for storage, leaving the final plan up to the weather’s cooperation.

While it may only take two to three months for a tomato or cucumber to go from seed to harvest, there’s much more to the summer growing season than we may think! 

Take a farm tour this summer or spend some time at the Washington County Fair’s great 4-H and agricultural displays to learn more about your favorite products.