Agriculture In the Town
Prior to World War II, agriculture was a major economic sector and the predominant land use in the Town of Ithaca. Despite the formidable barriers to farming presented by terrain, soils, and the climate, the Town produced and exported significant amounts of wheat and other agricultural products beginning around 1800. Throughout the 19th Century, potatoes, hay, tobacco, grain, fruit, and dairy and meat products were sent to market from numerous Town farms. Although agriculture in the Town has declined since the end of World War II, it is still the predominant land use in several portions of the Town.
Farmland, and the farmers who work the land, contribute to the well-being of all Town residents. In addition to the direct contribution to the local economy through production and employment, local farmers also make significant indirect contributions to the local economy through the purchase of equipment and supplies and through their relatively low demands on the costly public infrastructure. The rural character of the Town – enjoyed by Town residents and essential to the local tourist industry – is provided largely by local farmers and the State Parks. Perhaps most importantly, farmers in the Town of Ithaca have established a tradition of stewardship of the land and its resources.
Agriculture in the Town of Ithaca reflects agriculture in the region. Even though the number of farms is relatively small (approximately 24 farms), agriculture in the Town is surprisingly diverse. Enterprises include dairies, vineyards and wineries, direct-marketed produce (via area farmers markets, U-pick tree fruit and vegetable crops, farm markets, or roadside stands), field crops, forest crops, landscaping and nursery stock, Christmas trees, greenhouses, horses, beef, chickens, fiber products, orchards, and a CSA.