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    Warren County Watch
    Agriculture in Thurman
    January is a busy time for Sheila Flanagan and Lorraine Lambiase, co-owners of Nettle Meadow Farm and Artisan Cheese in Thurman.
    New lambs are born, which require almost as much care as new babies.
    After the help goes home at 4 p.m., it's up to the two of them to listen to baby monitors for each of their four barns, and provide whatever care is necessary.
    "This time of year, I'm always sleep deprived," Flanagan said.
    She had enough energy, though, to travel to San Francisco Jan. 23 to receive a "Good Cheese Award" for the farm's Kunik cheese, made from goat's milk and cow's cream, the latest in dozens of national and international awards the local cheesemakers have won.
    "The nice thing about the latest award is that it recognizes not just the quality of the cheese, but also humanity to animals and environmental stewardship," Flanagan said.
    Nettle Meadow Farm and Artisan Cheese centers its operation around the philosophy "Happy Goats - Great Cheese," a holistic approach Flanagan said brings better product quality and increases the owners' satisfaction.
    Every animal has a name and receives attention and frequent interaction.
    "We're extra careful to get them the best kinds of feed, the best care," she said.
    "EDC Warren County has been working with the owners to take the business "to the next level," including eventually purchasing new equipment that will enable the farm to produce larger quantities of product," Flanagan said.
    Warren County Local Development Corp. in December provided a $115,000 low interest loan to stabilize the operation and purchase additional pasture land adjacent to the farm.
    "With more room to move around, goats and sheep will produce more milk, which will enable the farm to produce and sell more cheese," Flanagan said.
    The loan enabled the farm to keep its approximately 20 employees on full 40-hour weeks in January, whereas in previous years January schedules were cut back to 25-to-30 hours a week.
    The farm is in the process of hiring two additional employees.
    "Now," Flanagan continued, "EDC Warren County is working with National Grid to explore the feasibility of bringing three-phase power to the farm."
    "If we can do that with their assistance, that would be huge," she said.
    The industrial-type power supply would power new equipment that can make larger quantities of cheese and supply more customers.
    "The brand is widely known and a distribution system to 49 states is in place, so increased sales and profitability are inevitable if the farm can increase production," Flanagan said.
    The farm's dozens of awards include 1st, 2nd and 4th place in the mixed milk category at 2017 U.S. Cheese Championships for its Briar Summit, Sappy Ewe and Three Sisters cheeses.
    The Knick cheese, which won the latest award, won gold medals at the 2016 World Cheese Championships and at the 2016 New York State Fair.
    Nettle Meadow cheese is available at various retail stores, and can be purchased at the farm store at 484 S. Johnsburg Rd.
    The farm store offers many specialty cheeses made in small batches that are not widely distributed elsewhere.
    Farm tours are available, and there is a concert series at the farm from June through August that raises money for The Nettle Meadow Sanctuary, which cares for more than 100 older or abandoned animals, including horses, cows and smaller animals.
    Elsewhere in Thurman, Blackberry Hill Farm and Sanctuary is carving out a niche as a "certified organic" farm, catering to customers that value pesticide-free, humane farming methods.
    "People who want organic seek it out and come every week," said Bob Barody, co-owner with his wife Irene Barody.
    A photograph on the farm's website of a heritage pig wearing matching red rubber rain boots on all four feet illustrates the philosophy of the couple who established the farm in 2014 because they were concerned about humane treatment of meat animals.
    The couple raises chickens, turkeys and pigs to sell as meat, and grows organic produce.
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture certified the farm as organic in June 2017, after a rigorous certification.
    "Overall, organic operators must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity and using only approved substances," according to the USDA web site.
    The certification allows the farm to label its products as "certified organic."
    "The certification has boosted sales overall, but sales in the winter months are still sluggish," Barody said.
    The couple sells its products at the farm at 15 Mud St. in Athol, and in warmer months at Riverfront Farmers Market in Warrensburg.
    Barody said he plans to also sell at the Chestertown Farmer's Market in the upcoming season.
    Barody said Thurman has a reputation for political controversy, but business owners in the town are cordial and network well together, such as in organizing Thurman Maple Days March 10-11, 17-18, and 24-25.
    "For a small little town, the businesses seem to work cohesively," he said.
    Farms, businesses and organizations will have open houses, demonstrations and tastings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
    Participants include four syrup producers in Thurman: Toad Hill Maple Farm, Adirondack Gold Maple Farm, Hidden Hollow Maple Farm, and Valley Road Maple Farm.
    In other Warren County economic development, business and quality of life news:
    Flomatic to expand
    When Flomatic Corp. located its valve manufacturing operation on Pruyn's Island in Glens Falls in 1996, the
    building had plenty of surplus space for the operation to grow.
    "When we first moved in the building, it was more space than we needed," said company President Bo Andersson. "Now it is just the opposite."
    To meet increased demand for product, Flomatic will construct an approximately 20,000-square-foot addition in 2018, costing between $2.5 million and $3 million.
    "We'll start when the frost gets out of the ground in April," and construction will be completed around mid-October, Andersson said.
    Flomatic Corp. will receive $650,000 in state funding for the expansion project.
    The grant is part of just over $6 million in Regional Economic Development Council grants that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Dec. 13 for projects in Warren County. EDC Warren County assisted in this grant application for Flomatic
    Winter Carnival
    Lake George Winter Carnival opens Feb. 3 and 4, and continues on weekends through the end of February.
    History note
    The renovated and restored, historic Park Theater on Park Street in Glens Falls is expected to open as a performing arts center soon. Another project application that EDC Warren County is assisting is the Park Street Theater.
    Developer Elizabeth Miller, who is undertaking the project as a labor of love, received a $600,000 CFA grant through the state's regional economic development council program in 2016. Additionally the Park Street Theater is receiving a National Grid grant along with assistance from the Glens Falls Industrial Development Agency
    While we wait for the curtain to rise, here is a historical anecdote from a century ago:
    "'The Pride of the Clan' will be viewed with additional interest because of the fact it is the first production made by the famous and loved 'Our Mary' since she took the lead of her own company, the Mary Pickford Film Corporation," The Post-Star reported on Jan. 14, 1918.
    The Post-Star touted the movie as "the real attainment of the best work and art of the best brains in this wonderful art industry."
    A separate Park Theater advertisement called it "the sweetest story ever screened in seven reels."
    Showings were at 1:45, 3:10, 7 and 9 p.m.
    Tickets were 6 cents and 11 cents.
    Maury Thompson covered the region for The Post-Star for 21 years before retiring in September. He keeps his finger on the pulse of economic development, business and quality of life in Warren County by writing a column for EDC Warren County.
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