By Connie Mandeville | Photos/Artwork Provided
Every harvest season, people across the North Country look forward to picking berries or apples at their favorite local farm or orchard or buying sweet corn and other produce from local farm stands. In the winter, we enjoy pancakes with freshly made maple syrup at many of the local sugarbushes and continue to support local farms year-round by purchasing locally made products at local stores.
What locals have enjoyed for years is now drawing tourists to the area and has developed into an agritourism industry. In 2018, a group of community members and farmers responded to this new trend and created an initiative to organize the Adirondack Cuisine Trails. The trails include farms, retail stores, wineries, breweries, and restaurants. “The goal of the trails is to encourage more sustainable tourism,” said Mary Godnick, Communications Coordinator at Essex County Cornell Cooperative Extension.
The Adirondack Cuisine Trails went through various stages with New York State and the Department of Agriculture and Markets before they were transferred to Adirondack Harvest, managed by the Cornell Cooperative Extension, two years ago. Each farm and business was vetted to make sure they are welcoming to visitors and offer an intimate farm experience. Every farm and business also needed to meet certain qualifications. For breweries and wineries, they must be a New York State farm brewery or winery. Restaurants and retail locations must include regular menu items that highlight locally grown products.
Locations also need to have set hours and be open regularly, although they can be open seasonally. To better accommodate visitors, locations cannot be open by appointment only. Businesses also need to be visible to the public either through a website, social media, Google Business, or promotional flyer and must be located within five miles of the New York State-designated cuisine trail route. There is a small fee ($25 plus another $25 suggested donation to Adirondack Harvest) to help with promotional costs, but memberships offer several perks including visibility on association’s website and in marketing materials.
There are six trails in total organized by region, highlighting their different vibes. The trails are designed to provide more information for visitors “so that they can have a more authentic Adirondack experience and also more information to support businesses that are investing locally,” said Godnick.
The Adirondack Lakes Cuisine Trail goes from Saranac Lake to Lake Clear to Tupper Lake. There are ten stops in total, varying from historic farms to ice cream stands, to breweries.
The Ausable Valley Cuisine Trail includes Au Sable Forks, Jay, Keene, and Lake Placid and with eight stops, is a great way to enjoy a leisurely trip to Lake Placid.
The Champlain Valley Cuisine Trail offers eight stops including Putnam Station, Ticonderoga, Crown Point, Port Henry, and Westport and is a perfect way to plan a road trip up the southern coast of Lake Champlain.
Champ’s Cuisine Trail, including Plattsburgh, West Chazy, Chazy, and Champlain provides a way to show off the region to visiting friends. It starts in Plattsburgh at Oval Craft Brewing and the North Country Food Co-op, and then continues to Bechard’s Sugarhouse in West Chazy. From there, the trail travels north to Chazy Orchards and ends at the border at Four Maples Vineyard & Winery in Champlain.
There are seven stops on the North Country Cuisine Trail and that is where you will find our local apple orchards. The trail features Rulfs Orchard and Northern Orchard in Peru as well as North Point Farmstand and Country Dreams Farm in Beekmantown. The trail includes stops at Parker Family Maple Farm and D & D Meats in West Chazy, with the final stop at Ice House Farm Store in Mooers.
The Bouquet Valley Trail, featuring the largest collection of new farmers who are rediscovering traditional farming techniques, includes Elizabethtown, Wadhams, Essex, Willsboro, and Keeseville. Some highlights of this trail include the classic Deer Head’s Inn Restaurant and the Clover Mead Café and Farm Store at North Country Creamery. With sixteen stops, you can spend days exploring its numerous farms, wineries, breweries, and eateries.
You can also visit many of the locations on the Adirondack Cuisine Trails during their Open Farm Weekend. This year the event was held during the first weekend of August and included special tastings and demonstrations at farms across the region, and special events like BBQs, make-your-own flower bouquets and paint and sips. Many of the retail locations also offered special discounts and sales. You can also check out many of the locations at the Adirondack Harvest Festival, one of the biggest agritourism events in the region. This year the event will be on Saturday September 23rd at the Essex County Fairgrounds.
The trails are still in their infancy, but work is underway to promote and expand their reach. The trails also have community partners like ROOST that help with marketing. In the next year, they expect to release new print maps and add signage to increase visibility. Their ultimate goal is for visitors to the Adirondacks to use the cuisine trails to plan their trips to the region and to funnel more tourists to the farms directly and to the businesses that support local farms and locally grown products, Godnick added. The Adirondack Cuisine trails are also working on partnering with cuisine trails in Vermont, Quebec and Ontario which will make the trails international and increase their reach. Godnick is hoping the initiative will launch in the next year.
Farming has been a North Country tradition for centuries, and the Adirondack Cuisine Trails are a perfect way to promote what our region has to offer. It is also an opportunity to take advantage of the rising interest in agritourism and farm to table cuisine. The trails are not just for tourists either. They are also a great way to showcase farms and local businesses to potential employees or businesses coming to the region, and a perfect excuse to be a tourist in your own backyard.
Adirondack Cuisine Trails
8487 Route 9
Lewis, NY 12950