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coop extension glenwood farmsGlenwood Farms in Ithaca is a local producer listed on They sell bison meat and specialty products directly to the consumer.” Photo: Glenwood Farms, used by permission.

Consumers concerned by media reports of projected higher prices and reduced choices for supermarket meats can visit Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County online for ways to “find your farmer” and “fill your freezer” with high quality, locally produced meat. The website includes terms and definitions consumers should know when buying local meats in bulk; information on using the online MeatSuite directory of livestock farmers who sell directly to consumers; and details on how to rent freezer space in the Ithaca Meat Locker to store local meat purchases.

The MeatSuite is a free online tool created in 2013 by Cornell Ag Educators in the South Central NY region to help local livestock farmers increase their “freezer trade” (the sale of whole, halves, quarters of animals and bulk bundles of meat). Consumers can visit and enter their zip code to search for livestock farms and specific products located in their area. The site currently includes more than 200 listings of farms in many counties throughout NY State.

Buying meat in bulk is less costly than buying it by the cut, yet many consumers lack home freezers to take advantage of these savings. The Ithaca Meat Locker, also a project of CCE-Tompkins’ agriculture team, is a large walk-in freezer located just off Press Bay Alley (118 W. Green Street) in downtown Ithaca. Locker members rent a plastic bin (small for $3/month or a large for $5/month) and only local meat may be stored (locally-hunted venison also is permitted). Access to individual bins is provided and overseen by the Meat Locker Manager during weekly “open hours” on Thursdays from 3:00-6:00pm from May to December, or by appointment. During the CoVid-19 outbreak, a contact-less system for accessing the bins during open hours is in place.

Another resource for finding local food is the Buy Local Food Guide, also developed by Cornell’s South Central NY Ag Team members. This free searchable online directory includes more than 400 farms and producers in Tompkins, Tioga, Schuyler, Chemung and Cortland Counties who sell meats, dairy, eggs, fruits, vegetables, honey and maple, specialty foods and other products directly to the consumer.
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