TOWN OF FLORIDA — Area residents are surrounded by farms, yet not everyone knows where to go for fresh produce, meats and other goods. Erika Gogis is eliminating the guesswork by offering goods from a variety of local producers at the Plaid Farm Store.
After growing up in Pattersonville surrounded by farms and with relatives who were farmers, Gogis was amazed to see the farm store at Stamford Farmers Cooperative in Delaware County flooded with customers from New York City while working there as an intern.
“They would come on weekends and loved seeing all the local products. I couldn’t believe it. When you grow up with it you’re kind of blinded to it,” Gogis said Friday. “It was an eye opener to see that there is a huge demand for it from people who aren’t from a farm or from an agricultural area.”
After earning an associate degree in agricultural science and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business management from SUNY Cobleskill, Gogis began raising USDA-certified beef cows with boyfriend Aaron Milonovich at Bittersweet Farms. She also currently serves as a herdswoman caring for the dairy cows at Creek Acres Farms.
“Cows have always been in my life. My aunt has a 46-cow dairy. My brother is into chickens, I never really got into that route. My grandmother is into gardening, that’s not my cup of tea. Cows are really my wheelhouse,” Gogis said. “Cows are pretty easy.”
The idea of opening a farm store was always in the back of her head and was pushed to the forefront in the past year by the pandemic.
“People were really concerned about where their food was coming from,” Gogis said. “I knew it was time to make moves for the town I grew up in, connecting farmers with neighbors and friends.”
Gogis approached her boss at Creek Acres Farms, Matthew Bunker, about opening her own stand on the farm at 6419 Route 30. He jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s turned out to be an awesome spot,” Gogis said.
The Plaid Farm Store opened in a petite red building located at the front of the farm on July 15. The shop built by local contractors is filled with goods from local farms and bakers and is an easy 4-mile drive from the state Thruway exit in Amsterdam.
“It’s been crazy,” Gogis said after her first week of business. “I did not realize that there was such a demand for this type of thing.”
The shop in the last week featured various cuts of USDA-certified meat from Bittersweet Farms, chicken from Hokie Holler Farmstead, milk from Dygert Farms Creamery, baked goods from the Mad Batter Cookiez, bread from Udderly Sweet and maple products from Cave Country Maple Boilers.
Seasonal produce is available as it is harvested. The shop featured sweet corn and peaches in its first week. More fresh fruits and vegetables are expected this weekend.
“I trust those who are growing it to do the best they can and I know I’m getting a quality product,” Gogis said. “I’m really trying to support small businesses, local farmers and try to make it work.”
The Plaid Farm Store is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is self-service. The shop is equipped with cameras but is operated on the honor system with customers currently able to pay by cash or Venmo. Gogis is hoping customers do not try to take advantage of the setup.
“If anybody needed anything, I would hope they would reach out first before taking anything,” Gogis said.
Gogis, who typically puts in over 60 hours a week at the farm, has her phone number displayed in the shop where customers can reach her throughout the day with any questions while she is out working.
She was expecting calls asking about the backgrounds of goods but has been delighted to receive calls with suggestions, compliments and friendly heads ups when items have sold out.
“People are very interactive,” Gogis said. “I want to listen to people, they have so many good ideas. I really appreciate that they are not afraid to reach out to me. I want to continue that open relationship.”
The Plaid Barn Store will likely open early one morning each week and offer specialty baked breakfast goods after one local said it would be nice to be able to stop by on their way to work. The shop will stock beets from Kietzmann Farm this weekend after another local called looking for the vegetable.
“I like being that resource that people can reach out to and get what they need,” Gogis said. “It’s a sigh of relief when I know the community is backing me up.”
The farm stand will be open year-round, but fruits and vegetables will only be available as they are produced seasonally.
“I’m going to change with the season,” Gogis said. “Come winter time I won’t have produce, but I hope people respect that I don’t want produce from another state.”
Fall will likely see the stand carry pumpkins and decorative items like hay bales and corn stalks. In the winter, Gogis is hoping to carry locally made wreaths. She is also hoping to offer locally produced turkeys for Thanksgiving and hams for Christmas.
For now, she is focused on giving locals a chance to visit an active farm to pick up goods produced by their neighbors.
“I want it to be easy,” Gogis said. “It’s nice to be that venue that people can look to instead of going to the grocery store.”