Fund-raiser farm dinner supports Bovina Library

By Jennifer Kabat
This Saturday, Dec. 3, a fund-raiser and farm dinner in Bovina will support the community’s public library and celebrate local pride and farm produce.

With a shortfall in its budget and an endowment that’s suffering in the current economy, library officials got to thinking about how to raise money, librarian Marge Miller explained. Soon, the idea was far more than a fund-raiser; it became the Holiday Farm Feast, a rallying point for the community and an opportunity to show off local products. December might not be the time of year when people think of fresh produce, but Bovina makes everything from bread to beer (yes, in the dry town) as well as beef, pork, poultry and dairy.

Working together
Farming Bovina is working with the library on the event. A new nonprofit, it was founded earlier this year to support farming in the area. As president Evelyn Stewart explains, “We’re here to help farms with sustainability from value added products and help with building to funding and writing grants to keep people farming.”

She runs Sunflower Farm, a dairy farm that’s been in her family for three generations. “Farming is the backbone of a local economy,” she says. “With a strong farming community there’s a strong economy because farmers typically spend all their money locally from buying grains to hiring help.”
With only three dairy farmers left, the town now has seven or eight others raising beef and a couple raising sheep and goats and a few doing crops.

“There’s a greater interest,” Stewart says, “in farming now and keeping farms here and keeping them working. They give Bovina its character and people don’t want them going away.” Bovina, as the name suggests, was once famous for its cows and dairy – even supplying the White House with butter – and is hoping to again. One of the first things Farming Bovina is thinking about doing is building a small creamery to capitalize on its history and make butter similar to how Cowbella did for the Danforth family in Jefferson. Looking for a way to keep their family farm sustainable into the seventh generation, they started making butter and yogurt and are now a local-farm success story.

Farm supporter
Miller, who is also the Town of Middletown supervisor-elect, supports the growth of area farms.
“They provide a more sustainable future,” she says,” and encourage preserving our local land. They’re also good for the local economy and communicating our values and communities outside the Catskills.”

The dinner, which will be served from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Bovina Town Hall on Main Street, will feature pork, short ribs, chicken, cheese and bread from local farms and producers.
“Bovina used to do an annual community dinner before Christmas,” Miller says, “so the idea is to resurrect that, and turn this into an annual event.”

Grant assistance
She is also hoping for a large turnout. The library has had a grant from the O’Conner foundation and needs $2,500 in matching funds – which translates to around 200 people coming out to eat local and celebrate farms on Saturday.

Tickets for adults are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Tickets for kids are $6 and $7. Tickets are available at the Bovina Public Library or at Russell’s Store in Bovina or by calling 607 832-4884. Live entertainment featuring Hilt and Stella Kelly, Story Laurie and others will begin at 6:30 p.m.
For more info on Farming Bovina go to http://farmingbovinany.org/.