Farm Fest Gets Fresh

Every spring semester at SUNY New Paltz, a festival is held on the Old Main Quad devoted exclusively to spreading awareness about agricultural sustainability.

Dubbed “Farm Fest,” the event is an opportunity for local farms as well as community groups that specialize in sustainable agriculture to come together and spread awareness. Students for Sustainable Agriculture, Oxfam America and New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) hosted the event, which took place on April 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event included performances by student musicians, yoga exercises and students giving henna tattoos. Also present were local farm vendors selling produce and handing out farm grown vegetable samples to students.

Third-year student and President of the Sustainable Agriculture Club Annie Courtens said the festival functions mainly to “give awareness about agriculture as a whole, and give information about buying local to support local farms.”

Farm Fest also focuses on getting community members and students to work together for the benefit of New Paltz, Courtens said.

Farm Fest provided information on the dangers of fracking, learning how to compost and encouraging students to use public transportation rather than using their cars to get places.

“One thing I’m working on is reintroducing the UCAT system to the New Paltz campus,” Phoebe Leon, a first-year student and a student board member of Ulster Core, an organization that focuses on environmental awareness, said.

“It’s free for students, but it’s very vague, so nobody knows how to use it,” she said. “It’s something that we are trying to work on.”

Not only do the students benefit from the event, local farms do too. Local farmer Katy Kondrak, who is based in Kingston, uses the festival to her advantage.

“Learning the importance of local food and getting the opportunity to buy local goods from some of these awesome vendors,” Kondrak said.

The vendors as well as community members seem to have the same way of thinking as far as the purpose as well as the benefits of the festival Kondrak said.

The college hosts farmers’ markets every Thursday on academic row near Coykendall Science Building, selling produce and other locally grown goods.

“It’s really about raising awareness about the farmers market that usually happens on campus,” Ariana Basco, marketing director for the Community Compost, said. “We run a lot of internships for surrounding environmental issues.”