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By January 30, 2015 1 Comments Read More →

Farmers, Chefs, Winemakers, Bartenders, & Restaurant Owners Protest Seneca Lake Gas Storage

Protesters Include Celebrity Chefs Emma Frisch of Firelight Camps and Scott Signori of Stonecat Cafe, Northstar Restaurant Owner Lee Hamilton, Baker Stefan Senders, and Renowned Organic Farmers Chaw Chang and Tony Potenza.

Protest Seneca Lake Gas StorageWatkins Glen, NY – Wearing coveralls, kitchen aprons, chef’s hats, and bee-keeper veils, luminaries in the Finger Lakes food and farming industry staged a protest banquet in the form of an al fresco feast at the gates of Crestwood on Route 14, two miles north of Watkins Glen. All together, more than 60 Finger Lakes food luminaries—and their supporters—rallied outside of the compressor station as part of an ongoing civil disobedience campaign called “We Are Seneca Lake.”

Setting up banquet tables along the snowy roadside, the protesters served a midday protest brunch that featured meatballs, frittatas, saurkraut, artisanal bread, popcorn, salads, cheeses, and desserts that were prepared from local, seasonal ingredients. During toasts and speeches, protesters said their intent was to raise awareness among local residents, media and legislators about the new threat that gas storage—and the massive industrialization that accompanies it—will pose to the culinary bounty of the Finger Lakes. By coming to the gates of natural gas compressor station with dishes to pass that represent the Finger Lakes region, their food business, their farm or their restaurant, protesters said that they are literally bringing to life the essence of their region and what is at stake here.

After the meal, some participants rallied along the edge of the highway, while 17 others blockaded Crestwood’s driveway, holding banners that proclaimed, “Farmers & Eaters Against Crestwood: Food & Farms, Not Gassy Bombs!” and “We Are Seneca Lake and We Are Growing (wine, cider, beans, wheat, syrup).”

Protesters blocked the main entrance to Crestwood for four hours in below-freezing temperatures, preventing all traffic from entering or leaving the facility. No arrests were made. At 3:30 p.m. the protesters dispersed.

The total number of arrests in the ongoing protest stands at 200

Celebrity chef and co-owner of Firelight Camps Emma Frisch organized the banquet. Frisch said, “Food is a universal language that brings people together. I believe we can spread the word about this threat to our beloved Seneca Lake by inviting people to celebrate the bounty of our region with a feast. I’m committed to protecting the bounty that has defined the Finger Lakes as a wine and culinary epicenter. As a chef and business owner in this region, it’s my top priority to feed people clean, healthy food.

“I applied to be on Food Network Star because I was inspired to take my passion for farm-to-table nationwide. I found the courage to do so by living in a community where this approach to food is not a trend, but a centuries-old way of life–and it works. It would be devastating to see the very foundation of our home destroyed.”

Food and farm business consultant Krys Cail, 60, of the Town of Ulysses.  Cail said, “After spending a decade and a half trying to help our farm and food economy and more than 40 years patronizing the fruit and vegetable markets around Seneca Lake, I would be heartbroken to see our marvelous success ruined by the Crestwood facility. In my policy work with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, I’ve learned how important a pristine agricultural environment is to our growing organic food sector and how much organic farmers want to protect it.”

Organic farmer and operator of the Stick and Stone Farm CSA, Chaw Chang Trumansburg, said, “I’m here for the food! And to make sure we can still produce it for many years to come.  I take issue with the idea that a far-away corporation can risk the land, water and air around us without transparency or concern. I want to support the folks in my community who have already stood up to speak out against Crestwood.  I am here to honor my late mother-in-law Gay Garrison, who worked tirelessly to ban fracking in New York State up until her death.”

Ethan Ash, 35, of Ithaca, co-chair of the agri-tourism committee for Tompkins County Strategic Tourism Board and entrepreneur with ventures in culinary and hospitality businesses, said, “As a resident of the Finger Lakes, I’m proud of the agriculture and culinary treasures in our region.  And I’m excited about the growth of the agri-tourism industry as well as the impact it can have in creating jobs and dollars far surpassing that of a gas storage facility. I’m working with leaders to promote our region as an agriculture and culinary destination, and I’m here today in support of the very people who create these experiences and resources every day.  If we protect and nurture these resources, we can grow the pie for everyone. If we mistreat our resources, there will be no pie.”

Stefan Senders, 56 of baker at the Wide Awake Bakery in Mecklenberg—twice arrested previously for civil disobedience at Seneca Lake–said, “I am here with members of my community–with farmers and restauranteurs, chefs and winemakers, cheese-makers, cider-makers, and bakers–to stand in support of our lakes and land. As food makers, we have devoted our lives to caring for our neighbors. We are in it for the long haul. We are not willing to sacrifice each other for a promise of boomtown money and a shaky guarantee of safety. They tell us, ‘Nothing can go wrong.’ But we have had enough experience to know: It can go wrong. It does go wrong. It has gone wrong.”

Read more about the arrested protesters at http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.

1 Comment on "Farmers, Chefs, Winemakers, Bartenders, & Restaurant Owners Protest Seneca Lake Gas Storage"

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  1. Barry Messina says:

    And yet nobody seems to care about the water pollution caused by the use of herbicides and pesticides in the vineyards. Why is the water quality in Seneca Lake worse than in the other Finger Lakes? And no one seems to mention the hypocrisy of the vineyards use of propane (derived from natural gas). Tell me, do those celebrity chefs do their cooking using electric stoves, or are they cooking with gas?

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