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May 4, 2013

Area grower offers fruits of his labor

By Cathy B. Koplen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Some people are happiest with their hands in dirt, coaxing forth fruits and vegetables from the Earth.

Such a man is Tony Annutto, whose family tree grew up through their gardens.

Annutto, the owner of Annutto’s Farm Stand, at 584 Main St. in Oneonta, was raised by a farming family. In the 1950s, the Annutto family farmed 250 acres and sold their produce to the retail grocery store chain A&P Supermarkets. When he went out on his own, Annutto began a farm market and greenhouse business in Herkimer.

In 1984, Annutto purchased the present location in Oneonta, which he runs with his wife, Judy Annutto, and his daughter, Debbie Annutto.

“We open April 1 every year,” Tony said. “Right now most of our produce is out of state.

“But as it gets closer to summer we will start having all local produce,” he said. “I’ll bring in some of my stuff and a lot of other local farmers will bring me their stuff. We can grow about anything here. We get tomatoes, corn, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe… it is wonderful.”

Annutt’os Farm Stand also sells a variety of food, farming supplies and garden décor. Every morning, Judy bakes trays upon trays of fresh scones, muffins, doughnuts and cookies. There is fresh-pressed apple cider and coffee, and local cheese in large wheels.

In late April, flats of perennials and pallets of soil were daily coming into the store in anticipation of planting time. The greenhouses out back were filling up with colorful flowers.

“Usually we say Memorial Day weekend is the time to plant — maybe a week or two after that,” Tony said. “Sometimes in the higher elevations you can get frost up into June. Last year we got spoiled. This year is more typical of the weather around here.”

The Annuttos have seen many changes over the years, in both the weather and the spending habits of the community. When the economy took a turn for the worse, people began to tighten their budgets and restrain from spending freely.

“It didn’t get us the year it happened,” Debbie said. “But the next year, it was pretty bad. People were not spending money.

“But there was one thing; people were putting in more gardens. They were canning and freezing — growing their own food.”

Debbie said she has seen a shift in her customers’ interest in the past year. People are spending more on gardening supplies.

“The serious gardener, they want the best soil, the best fertilizer — the natural stuff — it is awesome the fertilizer we get now, so much better than man-made,” Debbie said.

The Annuttos are serious farmers. They are continuously interested in new products and innovative ways to farm better. Debbie recently returned from a three-day seminar at Cornell University where the focus was natural fertilizer.

Annuttto’s Farm Stand is opened 10 months out of the year. They are closed January and February.

“We have four very distinct seasons,” Debbie said. “And we celebrate every one of them here at the store.”