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Reporter's Notebook

July 14, 2012

Reporter's Notebook: Day lilies more than just pretty flowers

Day lilies are creating color bursts throughout the area, and they caught the attention of a visitor who observed the flowers in a different light.

"Day lilies are everywhere, but I don't think many people know that they are edible _ and delicious," Gabrielle Langholtz, editor at Edible Brooklyn & Edible Manhattan, said in an email this week.

Langholtz, who visited Cooperstown and Oneonta earlier this month, said the day lilies also are an economical food because they are free. She referred to an Edible Manhattan write up by Marie Viljoen at www.ediblemanhattan.com/departments/urban-forager/if-you-cant-beat-em-eat-em/.

Viljoen suggests eating them in salads, cooked and pickled. She discusses the virtues of harvesting from the wild and discourages picking blossoms from cultivated patches.

"The closed day lily buds are perfect raw in salads," Viljoen wrote, "crunchy, yielding, slightly sweet."

I'm sure the deer in my Oneonta neighborhood agree.

The state Assembly passed legislation June 20 that would allow farms to brew and sell locally made beer. Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, author and sponsor of the bill to create a farm brewery license, said the legislation is expected to become law.

"Under this law, farmers and brewers will be given many more options to expand their businesses and market their products," Magee said in a media release. "Craft beer brewed on farms will be able to be sold at farmers markets and the crops needed to brew beer will be allowed to be grown -- giving our agricultural economy a much-needed shot in the arm."

New York's craft brewing industry supports more than $200 million of economic activity annually, Magee said.

The bill will allow farm breweries to sell their products for consumption off the premises, at state and county fairs and at farmers markets, Magee said.

To qualify for the farm brewery license, farms must manufacture, store, and sell New York state-labeled beer and/or cider, and have an annual production capacity of 60,000 barrels or less, the release said. To be considered New York state-labeled beer or cider, products must be made from New York state-grown ingredients, which will further boost farm sales, Magee said.

Aloterra Energy's plans to grow Miscanthus Giganteus in New York is multi-phased project expected to create jobs, officials said during a media conference last month.

Aloterra Energy, based in Texas, has proposed local options to grow the tall grass, which can be converted into heating pellets or manufactured into products such as food containers and flooring materials. Last month, the firm expanded its outreach to farmers in Delaware, Schoharie and Greene counties, building on four projects in Ohio, Arkansas and Missouri.

Aloterra said it develops bio-refineries to produce grass pellets for domestic and international markets, bio-based products and chemicals, a media release said. In the first phase of the local project, 30 to 45 full-time direct and indirect jobs would be created, officials said.

Other highlights, they said, of Aloterra Energy's proposal include:

"¢ Partnering with farmers and landowners to plant 4,000 acres in 2013 in Schoharie, Delaware and Greene counties. These acres would yield a harvest in 2014 for pellet exports and to create green consumer packaging.

"¢ Phase II will expand plantings into surrounding counties and increase the biorefinery to add additional products, such as green building materials, bio-based chemicals and liquid fuels.

"¢ Reaching a goal of 50,000 acres in the region can create 800 to 1,000 new jobs in the initial three-county area and the surrounding seven counties included in Phase II and have an annual economic impact of $50 million.

Matt Griswold, Aloterra's chief business officer, previously said a minimum commitment would be 30 to 50 acres per farm. The cost for planting primarily would be paid by the firm or other resources, he said, and an estimated return for a farmer would be between $300 and $400 an acre.

Denise Richardson can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 213, or at drichardson@thedailystar.com.

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