OUTSTANDING IN HER FIELD: In 2022, resolve to see agriculture differently

Margo Sue Bittner

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? This year, how about thinking about agriculture in a new way? You might think that it is too late in the year to make New Year’s resolutions. Well, I have friend who doesn’t believe in starting resolutions on New Year’s Day. He says, “Pick a day – the first Monday of January, the 15th, the day of your birth. Start then. Too much pressure to start on a holiday.”

So, here are some suggestions for agriculture-related resolutions.

1. Check the labels on the food you purchase. Is it from New York? Is it from the United States? Look for local products as often as you can.

2. Try a new food. Do you always purchase Red Delicious apples? How about trying a Snap Dragon or Ruby Frost. How about a different variety of potato? Leaf lettuce instead of iceberg.

3. Visit a farmer’s market or farm stand. Whenever I visit the local farm stand, I’m always amazed at some of the locally grown vegetables available.

4. If you’re over 21, visit a local winery. We are blessed with a variety of wineries that make everything from traditional vinifera wines to sweet labrusca to fruit wines to meads and hard ciders. In a liquor store, many people purchase a bottle of wine because they like the label. At a winery you can taste before you buy.

5. Ask questions. If the farmer’s market isn’t busy and you want to know how they grow broccoli or what the difference is between the varieties of corn on the cob, ask the farmer. You want to know about the grape or fruit in the bottle and the process for making wine, ask your wine server. You want your market to stock local products, ask the buyer.

6. Visit a U-pick operation. There are a plethora of them in Western New York. You can pick strawberries, blueberries, cherries, apples. Want to know how they are grown or cared for? Another opportunity to ask the person who grew them.

7. Read about agriculture. Every March, Farm Bureau members visit schools to read a selected book. Your library has many books about different types of agriculture. But, there is information about agriculture in other places. I love reading cozy mysteries and I adore Sheila Connolly’s Orchard Series. Veterinarian James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small series has many stories about farm animals. Let me know your favorite.

8. Grow something yourself. Plant some seeds in a cup and see what happens. Yes, just like you did with a Mother’s Day plant in third grade. Parsley grows quickly. Cut a potato and put that in some dirt. If it works, great. If not, try something else. That’s what farmers do.

9. Agriculture is more than food — do you wear cotton clothing? Use ethanol? Plant flowers from a local nursery? Think about the many ways agriculture weaves its way into your life.

10. Visit a local fair or farm festival. Talk to those who are showing animals, look at the food exhibits, check out the equipment.

Do you have another resolution about agriculture? Let me know. Send me a picture. Tell me what you’d like to learn about. Share what you did for one of these resolutions. I look forward to hearing from you. Happy New Year!

Margo Sue Bittner, a.k.a. Aggie Culture, has been involved in Niagara County agriculture for 40 years. She’s had experience in dairy farming, fruit production and wine agri-tourism. Ask her any question about local agriculture and if she doesn’t know the answer herself, she knows who to get it from. Email margo@marjimmanor.com or call 716-778-7001.

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