SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AUGUST 24, 2023) – The Farm Journal Foundation and the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, with support from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Foundation, today celebrated the grand opening of the New York Voice of the Farmer Garden at the Great New York State Fair. The New York Voice of the Farmer Garden, which offers visitors the opportunity to learn about U.S. agriculture and crops grown in New York and around the country, is the very first statewide garden of its kind to open at a state fair in the U.S.
“The Great New York State Fair is rooted in agriculture and has long served as an exciting space for fairgoers to learn about New York State’s rich agricultural heritage,” said New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball. “We’re excited that the Voice of the Farmer Garden, the first garden of its kind at any state fair in the country, offers a tremendous opportunity to further showcase New York’s agricultural industry to visitors from all corners of the state and beyond.”
“The mission of the Voice of the Farmer Garden is to showcase U.S. agriculture’s contribution to our economy, environmental sustainability, and global food security,” said Todd Greenwood, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at Farm Journal Foundation. “New York is a powerhouse when it comes to agriculture, producing a wide variety of crops and food products that are vital to consumers and our economy – so we are thrilled to launch our inaugural state garden at the New York State Fair to highlight this important industry.”
“We so excited to have celebrated the New York Voice of the Farmer Garden at the Great New York State Fair today,” said New York State Fair Director Sean Hennessey. “The Fair gives us a great opportunity to have our visitors connect directly with our farmers, and we love being able to educate fairgoers about this important industry in our state. The Voice of the Farmer Garden is another great way to do this and we’re thankful to the Department and State Fair staff, and all of our partners who helped make this happen.”
To mark the opening of the new garden, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held today on site at the New York State Fair. The ceremony included remarks from New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball, State Fair Director Sean Hennessey, Farm Journal Foundation Vice President for Strategic Partnerships Todd Greenwood, New York State Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County Executive Director David Skeval, and New York dairy farmers Mike and Edie McMahon, who are Farmer Ambassadors with Farm Journal Foundation and featured in the garden’s learning content. Staff from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County (CCE Onondaga) and the Master Gardener program also joined the celebration, with the team having grown and cared for the garden this summer. Photos from the event are available here.
David Skeval, Executive Director of CCE Onondaga, said, “This was a great team effort between the New York State Fair, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, CCE Onondaga and our Master Gardener Volunteers to create a garden of New York State crops and produce that reconnects us all to our New York farmers. We hope to see this grow each year.”
Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “We have a lot to be proud of when it comes to New York agriculture – from the incredible range of food we grow to feed our state and country to the industry’s foundational contribution to our rural economies and environmental sustainability. The inaugural New York Voice of the Farmer Garden is an exciting opportunity to celebrate the impact of our agricultural sector while educating New York State fairgoers about where their food comes from and what makes New York one of the nation’s leading agricultural states.”
The garden, which is located across from the Expo Center near the Goat Pavilion, is a living, interactive learning space for visitors to see many of the major crops grown in New York, learn about important agricultural issues, and watch engaging videos of farmers and others in the food supply chain telling the story of agriculture.
The New York Voice of the Farmer Garden features over 35 varieties of vegetable crops, herbs, fruits and pollinator plants. Learn about New York State agriculture on a walking tour with QR codes that visitors can scan to watch videos on their mobile phones. Visitors can talk with CCE Master Gardener Volunteers and CCE Onondaga staff, and children will enjoy the shelled corn wading pool containing tokens to learn about a crop and win a prize. CCE Master Gardener Volunteers planted and maintain this exhibit.
Farm Journal Foundation’s Voice of the Farmer Garden program began in 2019 with an experiential learning garden on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and is now expanding to state venues across the country, including state fairs, universities, and state departments of agriculture. In addition to New York, a state garden in New Mexico is planned for later this year, with others expected in 2024.
About Farm Journal Foundation
Farm Journal Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving global food security by sustaining modern agriculture’s leadership role and ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population. The organization works to advance this mission through key issue areas, including global food and nutrition security, conservation and sustainability, rural development, and agricultural research and innovation. To learn more, visit www.farmjournalfoundation.org.
About the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ mission is to promote New York State agriculture and its high-quality and diverse products, foster agricultural environmental stewardship, and safeguard the state’s food supply, land, plants, and livestock to ensure the viability and growth of New York’s agricultural industries.
About the NASDA Foundation
The NASDA Foundation is the only educational and research organization that directly serves the nation’s state departments of agriculture. NASDA Foundation’s mission is to enhance American food and agricultural communities through education, outreach, and research. The NASDA Foundation’s purpose is to nourish people and communities while serving as the stewards of environment and public trust with the vision being that agriculture leads the way towards a healthy and resilient world.
About Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County is one of 58 County Extension Associations in New York State. Our mission is to connect our counties to the research at Cornell University to improve lives, communities, and economies across New York State through educational programs in Agriculture, Health and Nutrition, the Environment, and 4-H Youth and Family Development.