The New York Times recently published a piece describing the kinds of regulations under which farmers and small businesses work. It sparked conversations about which regulations are necessary and appropriate, and which create unnecessary burdens.

We hear from local and regional farmers. Our guests:

Is New York State spending enough on food from local farms? A new report from the New York Academy of Medicine and the American Farmland Trust says the state can do more. Four years after Governor Cuomo passed the Food Metrics Law to encourage state institutions to buy fresh food from farmers, it isn’t clear how much the state is actually spending on local foods. The report estimates the number could be about 10 percent, but it recommends an increase in spending to 25 percent. The groups say purchasing local food could increase the state’s economic output and improve the health and wellness of many New Yorkers, especially those who are food insecure.

We discuss if that goal is realistic, the challenges local farmers face why trying to meet institutional needs, and projections for New York’s food future. Our guests:

Local farms are uniting to bring more people into their CSAs. Soon enough, we'll see asparagus leading the spring crop, and CSAs will be in full swing.

Our panel explains how CSAs work, how they've grown, and we talk about how building community gives CSAs an opportunity to talk about a wide range of issues that impact farms. Those include why local food can be healthier for consumers as well as the environment, why teaching your kids where their food comes from is important, and what climate change is doing to local farms. Our guests:

Krenzer Farms

You've probably enjoyed the mild early winter weather, and we know winter is coming. For area farmers, an extended fall allowed many to recoup crops planted late following a wet spring and dry summer.

A new online magazine called Boomtown Table launched December 7. It covers food, agricultural issues, drink, and more.

We go inside the planning and the hopes for the future of this ambitious new site. Our guests:

  • Leah Stacy, co-founder and editor in chief  
  • Chuck Cerankosky, co-founder and creative director
  • Eric Houppert, agriculture editor 

Flickr: jetsandzeppelins

New federal rules aim to protect farm workers from the risks associated with exposure to pesticides. Advocates in New York are applauding the changes.

Now children under 18 will not be allowed to handle pesticides. Adult farm workers will have to be trained each year on how to protect themselves from the chemicals used around them. They used to be trained every 5 years.

It’s been 23 years since the Environmental Protection Agency updated its standards.

One of the biggest challenges farmers face is pests. But what if safe sex for insects could curb this problem. No, you read that right -- safe sex for insects. On Wednesday night at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, two scientists will discuss their research into genetically modified insects, specifically the diamondback moth. They have found a way to have the moths mate, and only produce male offspring, reducing the population. What are the pros and cons? We ask the two scientists, Tony Shelton and Neil Morrison.

We’re talking Farm to Fork in Rochester with a new collaboration among the Public Market, the Westside Market, and the South Wedge Market. The goal is to promote the markets – and local food – more directly surrounding the markets. Ideally, this brings in more people of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. We'll dive into this new collaboration with our guests:

The Good Food Collective started in 2009 and it’s aim was to link local farmers, specifically organic farms, with customers that may not otherwise find them. So did the venture work? They started with 100 customers. This season, they will have 1,600. What has led to their growth? We’ll ask Chris Hartman, president of the Good Food Collective.

Should young people go into farming? A recent opinion piece in the NY Times urged parents: Don't Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers. The piece struck at the heart of the small-farm, local food movement; the author explained that the vast majority of young, small farmers are operating in the red. They need outside jobs. They can't make a living.

Is it true? Our panel is filled with young farmers who have chosen this career in western New York:

  • James Cagle, owner of Buzz's Garden, a small and sustainable farm in Honeoye Falls
  • Denis Lepel, owner of Lakestone Farm in Farmington
  • Ben Eskind and Emma Brinkman, owners of Pachamama Farm in Farmington