Dear Aggie: The weather is finally nice, and I want to be outside. What are some local things I can do to enjoy the weather?
With the weather finally warming up in the North Country, we’re all looking to get a bit of sunshine in our lives. Getting outside and enjoying the fresh air is on everyone’s mind, and what better way to do that than to enjoy the local agriculture of this area.
Jefferson County is home to seven different farmers markets, all filled with local producers sharing their farm fresh products and home-made goodies. Visiting these markets is a great way to get some extra steps into your day, support local businesses, and meet new people! The full list of markets and schedules can be found on the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Local Food Guide.
This guide also has a list of farm stands, restaurants, breweries, wineries, and more so you can enjoy local cuisine while soaking up the sun. Many of the restaurants use locally sourced products and have outdoor patio areas for seating. Meanwhile visiting a farm or vineyard will give you a firsthand look at how the delicious products are made.
The Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) also holds outdoor events and programs all summer long to teach the community about agriculture. Coming up is the Hungry for History Event which is being held on June 4th. All you have to do is pick up a brochure from the CCE office in Watertown or on your first stop of the tour. Then you follow the map to visit participating farms, museums, restaurants, and stores and learn about the history of cheesemaking in Jefferson County. You’ll even have a chance to win a few free gift baskets.
If you’re looking for something for the whole family to enjoy, there’s plenty of options. Old McDonald’s Farm is a crowd favorite. You can tour their dairy barn, visit the petting zoo, watch a pig race, take a hayride, and so much more. This gives the kids the opportunity to explore the farm and learn about the animals in a safe environment.
We all know it’s important to keep your children’s minds active during the summer months away from school, and sometimes that can be a challenge. Stone Mills Museum in LaFargeville allows your kids to look at antique farm equipment, historical buildings, and of course, be outside!
There are also ways to be immersed in local culture without going directly to the farms. The Watertown Rapids baseball team plays throughout the summer and even has special events on certain days! June 18th is their Agriculture Day where your family can learn about agricultural organizations in the community and meet the farmers who fill their tables, along with games and special guests. At every home game, they’ll also be honoring a local farmer with their “Hometown Heroes” program.
Of course, one of the best ways to see nature in our area is by visiting one of fifteen state parks located in Jefferson County. While some are secluded are only accessible by boat, other might be right down the road. This is a great to get the family active and learning about the local wildlife.
Written by Amanda Bickford, Cornell Cooperative Extension Ag marketing specialist