Columbia County takes agriculture seriously. It is an important part of our heritage and a major source of employment. It utilizes almost half the land mass in the County. We raise everything from sheep to apples, and from that we create everything from award-winning yogurt and Camembert to Core Vodka, made from Hudson Valley apples.
Agribusiness has been identified as a priority in the regional economy and continues to experience economic growth in Columbia County. From 2002 to 2007, there was an 11% increase in the number of farms, bringing the number to 557. The market value of products sold had also increased during that timeframe by 26% to a total of $65,770,000. The diversification of the agricultural economy has proven fruitful to County producers.
In 2012, Columbia County became home to Hudson Valley Creamery, a cheese processing plant that intends to use goat milk from herds in the region as part of their ten year plan.
An outgrowth of the bounty produced in Columbia County is our burgeoning restaurant scene. Columbia County residents and visitors have no shortage of eating establishments from which to choose, and every year more restaurants choose to serve foods grown locally. Many of our outstanding chefs have been trained nearby at the world renowned Culinary Institute of America.
More traditional direct retail opportunities are plentiful in Columbia County. Community Supported Agriculture is a popular way to purchase food and support farmers. With a CSA, a farmer offers “shares” of produce to the public. The consumer benefits by getting the freshest produce available while becoming exposed to new foods and getting to know the farmer in the process.
If you don’t purchase a share, you can always visit one of the 47 farm markets or numerous “Pick your Own” farms conveniently located throughout Columbia County.