SENECA FALLS — It’s virtually everything you wanted to know about farming, but were afraid to ask.
Empire Farm Days began its annual three-day run today at Rodman Lott & Son Farms on Route 414.
Monday was setup day, with preparations moving into high gear. Farm equipment, tractors, harvesters and other machinery, some the size and cost of a small house, rolled onto the grounds and were put on display in designated areas. Vendors set up tents to display their agricultural wares. A fleet of golf carts ferried people all over the site. Rows of porta potties were lined up.
The list of demonstrations and programs is mind-boggling. And, attendees can get free skin cancer, hearing, vision and blood pressure screening twice a day.
This is the second year Melanie and Drew Wickham of Stanley aren’t running the show; they’ve retired. Jamie Meyer and Chase Brown are now in charge of the expo that has called Seneca Falls home since 1988.
“A lot of what we do carries over from year to year in terms of vendors and demonstrations,” Brown said. “The layout is the same, but we have some new things this year. One of the new programs this year is the exhibit on growing hemp. We planted hemp plants in our demonstration field last year. They are not ready to harvest yet, but new state legislation makes this a viable crop, and we will have our first-ever program on hemp.”
A discussion on the Cornell University Hemp Research Update is set for 1:30 p.m. today at the Hemp Center area on the site. Larry Smart, Cornell horticulture professor, leads the Cornell Hemp Research Team. He will discuss the 2017 and ’18 hemp cultivation evaluation trials and describe the ’19 trials now in progress to evaluate hemp for grain, fiber and CBD production.
“All growers are welcome, particularly those not currently growing hemp,’’ Brown said.
Also speaking will be Assemblywoman Donna Luparo, who sponsored the bill allowing hemp to be grown in the state for the first time in 80 years. Several hemp growers will offer their insights, also.
“Also new will be our compact tractor ride and drive program,” Brown said. “It’s designed for hobbyists who are looking to plant a garden with a machine that has a small front loader and has less than 50 horsepower.”
Brown said there will be an increased presence on the use of drones in farming, with demonstrations on how they are being used to fertilize fields.
Meanwhile, Brown was interrupted frequently by his portable radio as EFD staff worked feverishly to get things in place.
For entertainment, teenage trick horse rider Courtney Jean Schum will put on a show at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
This year’s expo concludes Thursday afternoon.