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Altamont Farmers Market expands

The Altamont Farmers Market expanded Saturday, July 19, and will feature more choices from a wider variety of vendors for the rest of the season.

The expanded market will allow patrons to purchase products from Sap Bush Hollow Farm, Longfield Farms, Altamont Orchards and Fancher's Creekside Farm.

Gary Kleppel, owner of Longfield Farms, is one of the primary organizers of the expanded Saturday market. He said Altamont Mayor James Gaughan contacted him to participate, and he began contacting other local farmers.

The main reason he helped organize the market is because he believes it is vital for the producers of a community's food to have face time with the public, he said.

When you talk to the person who provided your food, you get an idea of who that person is. You know if you can trust them, said Kleppel, who sells baked goods at the market.

He said it is important to show people in the community you can provide local sources of food and energy, and he pointed out there are now 19,000 major farmers markets in the country, not counting smaller the ones that slip under the radar.

Kleppel, a professor at the University at Albany, also helped organize the farmers market at the university and pioneered a movement to have the school serve pasture-fed beef, which is more expensive, to students.

Kleppel teaches graduate-level courses in public administration and biology.

"I have been working in sustainable agriculture and land usage for about a decade, a little more," Kleppel said.

He said Jim Hayes of Sap Bush Hallow Farm, which sells a variety of meat products at the market, has been a mentor to him and pioneered many sustainable agricultural techniques.

He said he is concerned with people purchasing meat from non-local vendors. He said there was a ground beef recall six months ago in California and that much of the 143 million pounds involved in the recall has not yet been accounted for.

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