HERKIMER — Plans for a cheese trail, which would encompass stops in Herkimer County and other parts of the region, are starting to take shape.
Michele Hummel, executive director of the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce, said between 15 to 20 people attended a meeting at the Chamber on Wednesday. She said this included two cheese producers from Herkimer County, other producers from the region, representatives of the Little Falls Cheese Festival and representatives from the offices of Assemblymen Brian Miller and Robert Smullen.
Talks for a cheese trail formed out of the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency’s Agricultural Development Council where committee members discussed the idea.
"We’re looking to pick a date in early fall timeframe," said John Piseck, Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency executive director, who attended the meeting, about a possible kickoff for the trail. He noted he wouldn’t want to see a kickoff conflict with other autumnal events such as the Mohawk Valley Garlic and Herb Festival or the Remsen Barn Festival.
Piseck said the tour could include different artisanal cheeses and maybe a couple of vineyards.
"We can expand on it," he said.
Suzie Jones, who has owned Jones Family Farm with her husband Peter since 2004, said there have been a couple meetings, so far, on the formation of a regional cheese trail. She said this is coming off of the “heels of success of the Little Falls Cheese Festival.”
“I think it could be a really great thing. It’s worth giving it a try,” she said during a telephone interview. “I’ve seen it succeed elsewhere and I think people would enjoy it.”
Jones said their farm, located off of state Route 28 in Herkimer, produces cheese, gelato and poultry and they sell their products to the public and to restaurants. She said agritourism is something that could pique a tourist’s interest.
“(Let’s show visitors) where things are being produced," she said. "(People will be reminded) that agriculture is here, too, and it’s important.”
Hummel said Wednesday she had been making telephone calls to see about the possibility of a charter tour bus being used for those interested during a kickoff day for the trail that would include the local farms that are already “on board with developing a tour this fall.”
She said a map also will be made available to the public, and anyone who wants to be added to the map at a later date will be able to do so. The map would likely include which places are open year round or during certain seasons, and the times available.
Hummel and Piseck said another meeting — which is going to be a smaller, more focused group — is being planned to move forward with developing the trail.
“This is the first start of it,” Piseck said.