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Voice of the Farmer exhibit allows state fair-goers to learn more about the local foods they eat

New York Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball stands in the Voice of the Farmer exhibit.<br/>
Ellen Abbott
/
WRVO
New York Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball stands in the Voice of the Farmer exhibit.

Getting consumers better acquainted to the food they eat, that's grown by farmers in New York State is the idea behind a program new to the New York State Fair. This is the first State Fair landing place for a Voice of the Farmer exhibition.

Several raised beds dot a grassy patch of land; some bright orange nasturtiums here, yellow marigolds there and beans, corn and squash sharing another bed. What does state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball want you to do as you wander around the plants?

"Touch it, smell it, ask questions about it most importantly," Ball said.

Kathleen Copeletti of the Cornell Cooperative Extension is one of the volunteers who will be able to talk to fair visitors about what they see and take some of what they learn, home.

"Container gardening is very important right now," Copeletti said. "Not everybody has a yard, but they want to grow tomatoes in a five gallon container on their patio. We'll show them how to do it properly."

 Gov. Kathy Hochul visits the Voice of the Farmer exhibit on opening day.
Ellen Abbott
/
WRVO
Gov. Kathy Hochul visits the Voice of the Farmer exhibit on opening day.

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While the Voice of the Farmer program is limited to some raised beds for now, it’s expected to expand. Ball said officials are devising plans in the future for a huge greenhouse that will be open to fairgoers and also benefit the community.

"We'll be having some crops grown in there that will benefit the fairgrounds and make them beautiful," Ball said. "We also see this as an opportunity to feed some of the population in Syracuse. Urban gardening, urban farming is a great way of connecting dots for people that need access to food."

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Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.