CANTON — With corporate grocers dominant in many communities, it can be easy to overlook local agricultural produce and practices. A new exhibit at Traditional Arts in Upstate New York hopes to change that.
The exhibit, called “In Season: Our Rural Food System in Photos,” is curated by Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County and opens at 1 p.m. May 14 at TAUNY, 53 Main St. in Canton.
It spotlights farmers and producers who sell food in St. Lawrence County, and tells their story mainly through photographs.
“The project is nearly five years in the making,” said M. “Flip” Filippi, local food program leader at CCE of St. Lawrence County. “We put out a blanket invitation to growers or retailers to allow us to come to their farm or business to take shots and share more about what they do.”
More than 80 businesses participated, she said.
She said the exhibit will run from May 14 to Oct. 29, “which is the lion’s share of the growing season here in New York.” It is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday.
The exhibit is organized into seven themes: Scales of Production, Generations on the Land, Animals on the Farm, Why I Produce Food, Art Inspired by Agriculture, Anatomy of a Dish, and About Extension.
Ms. Filippi said the Generations on the Land section will include St. Lawrence Nurseries, a fruit and nut tree nursery in Potsdam that ships all over the country. Scales of Production, she said, includes Lisbon’s Kent Family Growers, which is the largest certified-organic vegetable grower in the county.
Anatomy of a Dish features restaurant dishes that utilize local produce. Featured restaurants include The Blue House in Madrid, Big Spoon Kitchen in Potsdam, Foster the Plant in Potsdam, and Flying Lotus Juice Bar in Canton.
“Some of the themes are really inspired by visual art, and others have more of a story,” Ms. Filippi said, “but it’s a mix.”
She said the exhibit will feature everything from a cranberry grower to dairy, beef, maple and honey producers and Amish growers.
Ms. Filippi emphasized how CCE worked with local photographer Jennifer McCluskey to take professional pictures of the producers, who have full access to the photos taken of them.
“She was a great sport tramping with us all over the county, and we want to recognize her contribution,” Ms. Filippi said.
She said there will be associated programs and workshops in coordination with the exhibit, such as cooking demonstrations and photography tutorials, the details of which will be announced later.
Ms. Filippi hopes the exhibit will inspire as well as enlighten the public.
“I think the mission of the exhibit is to inspire curiosity about food grown in our region and encourage people to get out and participate more actively,” she said. “Sometimes it’s easy to get into routines, but food is essential to life, and we have lots of talented people in our county working hard to produce food and make it available to the public, and we can all make active choices to support these people who are essential to our community.”
For more information, visit blogs.cornell.edu/fruition/in-season.