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July 20, 2010 - 4:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, localism, Chris Barons.

Here's a news release sent today from Chris Barons, Democratic candidate for the 139th Assembly District.

Key to restoring New York State’s economic vitality is bolstering opportunities for local products and farm produce in local markets. My program to open up local markets to local producers involves a one-two punch.

The two-part program targets both consumers and retailers -- establishing recognition of locally grown foodstuffs and manufactured goods and providing an incentive for retailers to merchandize local-origin products.

Just as branding has defined merchandizing strategies for apparel, fast food and innumerable high-profile products, "Made in New York" and "Grown in New York" will become state-licensed trademarks.

Minimum criteria would be required to qualify for the brands: Made in New York and Grown in New York. Standards would include in-state labor, local source and origin of components and/or goods. Manufactured products and agricultural produce would have to meet such requirements to be labeled with a New York brand.

In 2002, New York retail sales amounted to $178,067,530,000. Overall, U.S. retailing accounts for 8.1 percent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). To encourage retail participation in marketing and the sale of local products, the flip-side of the plan is to institute a Local Enterprise Credit.

This business credit would be based on the ratio of floor space allotted to local-origin products and produce. To maximize opportunities for local producers, the credit would be graduated -- the more floor space allotted to local products, the larger the credit.

The Local Enterprise Credit incentive and New York branding strategies would boost most retail products and commodities.

New York branding would guide consumers toward selecting New York’s products and produce. Thus, the marketplace would connect New York’s consumers and producers in a mutually profitable alliance, restoring New York business to Main Street, New York.

February 14, 2010 - 12:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy, localism, D&R Depot Restaurant.


A couple of years ago the wine distributor for D&R Depot Restaurant in Le Roy convinced Sean Valdes that he should drop his dream of serving only New York-produced wines.

New York wines are too seasonal, he said. They would be too hard to keep in stock.The wine list would always be changing.

Then about six months ago, another distributor, one based in Batavia, came by and Valdes mentioned his desire to stock only New York wines. This distributor listened and agreed to work with Valdes on coming up a suitable wine list.

"We figured out that we could do year-around reds and year-around whites from New York," Valdes said. "New York wines are seasonal, so we choose larger vineyards and different choices that we could get all year around, but ones that wouldn't be so different -- not the peaches and the apricots -- not my crowd. Pretty much the standards."

And as of Wednesday, D&R Depot is the only restaurant, according to Valdes, outside of the Finger Lakes or Albany, to serve only New York wines.

"Champagne only comes from a certain region of France, otherwise it's sparkling wine, so even our sparking wine is from New York State. It's Goose Watch," Valdes said.

So why go to an all New York wine list? Valdes' answer:

"First, New York has some great wines. We focus on Finger Lakes, but there's a winery in this area. Long Island has a lot of wineries. There's even some in the Adirondacks. I think it's a neat thing. It's a niche market. It's always good to be local and it's what we strive for anyway, so this is a neat thing to fit in with that. And they're different. Even the riesling that you get from New York has a little bit different flavor than you would get from California or France or Australia. It's something different to offer our customers and it's been a big hit so far."

Some of the wines on the list include Fox Run Chardonnay from Penn Yan, Glenora Riesling from Dundee, Thirsty Owl Diamond from Ovid, Brotherhood Pinot Noir from Washingtonville, Heron Hill Game Bird Red from Hammondsport and Knapp Superstition from Romulus.

Pictured above with a selection of their wines are Valdes and Nancy Nickerson.

January 15, 2010 - 9:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, localism.

While national chains struggled a bit with holiday sales, a national survey showed locally owned shops gaining 2.2 percent sales, according to a report on New Rules Project.

The survey also found that independent retailers in cities with active "Buy Local" or "Think Local First" campaigns reported stronger holiday sales than those in cities without such campaigns. These campaigns have been launched by local business alliances in more than 100 cities and towns. Independent retailers in these cities reported an average increase in holiday sales of 3.0%, compared to 1.0% for those in cities without an active Buy Local initiative.

Nearly 80% of those surveyed said public awareness of the value of choosing locally owned businesses had increased in the last year (16% said it had stayed the same).

"The buzz about buying local was louder among my customers this year than any other year," said a shoe store owner in Michigan.

"We've had many customers say they are making a real effort to 'Buy Local' this year. A number of customers said they saw an item at a chain store or online, and came back to us to purchase it," said a retailer in Maine.

January 15, 2010 - 9:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, localism, rural.

Small Business Trends has published a list of 10 trends to watch in 2010 for small businesses in rural areas.

Top of the list is the census.

Census 2010 – Population counts are critical for government programs, grants, and more for a decade. Smart small towns and counties will be actively finding ways to get everyone counted. Watch for town meetings to answer questions, and a whole bunch of canvassing. Your small town business will be indirectly affected by the results for ten long years.

At number three is the always important "shop local" trend.

December 15, 2009 - 9:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, localism.

mug_frank_ferrando.jpgWhen Jason Molino talks about community engagement, and moving city efforts for neighborhood improvement beyond code enforcement and writing grant proposals, its clear he has at least one supporter on City Council.

Last night, when Molino's agenda item came up on neighborhood improvement, only Ferrando spoke up in terms that gets the gist of what the city manager is trying to push.

"I really believe in the part of the report that says that essentially you can’t force people, you can’t intimidate people, you can’t bang people over the head," Ferrando said. "You might get short-term results, but you won’t get long-term results. You’ve got to change the attitude. It’s got to be a positive kind of reinforcement."

He then talked about his experience as a youth sports coach.

"When you talk to kids and you want to turn failure into success, they’ve got to do it," Ferrando said. "You can’t hit them over the head to be good. They’ve got to want to be good. You’ve got to change that whole culture and attitude."

Ferrando concluded with a remembrance of the South Side he knew as a kid.

"A lot of the South Side was an immigrant population," Ferrando said. "They took pride in their property. Those properties were beautiful. Their gardens were beautiful. Even their backyards were beautiful. They took pride because their properties were special. They didn’t have a whole lot. We’ve got to bring that same kind of pride back to our neighborhoods if we’re going to make a difference."

And that's exactly what Molino has been talking about since he first introduced the concept of community engagement at the Oct. 27 council meeting.

To be sure, Molino isn't talking about just feel-good, community-building measures -- his proposal includes code enforcement and grant applications. But he is certainly looking at Batavia's future with far more depth than just throwing money at problems. And he's quite clear: You and I play a role just as vital as cops, firefighters and code enforcers.

Batavia won't grow and improve without community members taking pride and getting involved, which was the point of Molino sharing with council the Geneva Report.

Molino's report to the council included both grants and code enforcement, but underlying Molino's broader efforts is finding ways to promote community engagement. Last night, he just didn't put it as well as Ferrando.

Molino's eight recommendations:

  • Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. The city applies for a $25,000 CDBG grant to study the needs of Batavia's neighborhoods and write a plan similar to Geneva's. This plan would bring in much of the community-engagement aspects of neighborhood improvement that Molino (and Ferrando) have discussed, as well as developing a neighborhood-by-neighborhood plan for grants and/or code enforcement.
  • Residential Rehabilitation Program. The CDBG program we wrote about previously.
  • Housing Rehabilitation Partnership. Partner with an organization like Habitat for Humanity and rehabilitate forclosed homes.
  • Trash Can Local Law. Requiring residents to use trash cans instead of plastic bags, which would cut down on trash in the streets and animal problems.
  • Exemptions for Multi-Family Conversions. This would provide tax exemptions for home owners who converted three- and four-apartment units back into single-family (or possibly duplex) residences.
  • Code Compliance Outreach. Providing information to residents, both home owners and renters, about proper property maintence, and providing renters a hotline to report problems.
  • Neighborhood Revitalization Committee. The committee would assist with the revitalization plan if funded, and assist with recommendations and implementation.
  • Continue Code Enforcement Efforts. Self explanatory.

In his report, Molino also shot down many of the recommendations of the Neighborhood Improvement Committee for new codes and new enforcement recommendations.

These included:

  • Residential rental occupancy permits
  • 36-month renewal for occupancy permits
  • Rental property tenant registration
  • Agent-of-record registration for rental properties.

Molino's report said these proposals were impractical either because of New York State law, expense (such as additional staffing) or inefficient because they didn't improve on current procedures.

The council took no action Monday on Molino's proposals. Council members such as Bob Bialkowski asked for more time to study the reports.

In other council news:

  • On a 4-4 vote (with Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian absent) the council failed to approve the sale of property between Ellicott Street and Lehigh Avenue to the railroad. Councilmembers said that the offer of $1,600 for the parcel -- currently not on the tax roles -- was too low. The parcel is landlocked (no street access) and currently seems to serve no useful purpose.
  • It turns out that the city's budget for legal services is running low. Lawsuits -- particularly the one with the mall merchants -- is driving up legal fees. The additional expenditures are likely to reach at least $35,000 before the end of the budget year.
  • It was Council President Charlie Mallow's last official meeting. We've ask Charlie to write an "outgoing thoughts" post. We'll see if he comes through for us. He said he's already said enough, but has he really?
December 12, 2009 - 5:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, localism, community engagement.

Hearkening back to a speech Jason Molino made at a City Council meeting in October, the city manager has asked council members to read a 74-page report from Geneva about its community-improvement efforts.

It isn't that Molino thinks the specific recommendations in the Geneva report are right for Batavia, but he's impressed by the process Geneva went through, and the effort it's putting forth at community development.

The report fits right in with everything Molino previously said about the need to improve community engagement among residents at a neighborhood level.

"It was an engaging process, a planning process where they took actual housing data, actual income data and data from residents in the community and said 'This is what the neighborhoods are made up of. Here are areas to focus on in each neighborhood to achieve some better results,'" Molino said during an interview Friday. "When you’re dealing with limited resources, I think that’s the targeted approach you have to take."

Based on the report and Molino's previous speech, the city manager is aiming to take a much broader approach to improve the quality of life in Batavia. Just throwing money at a problem or ramping up code enforcement isn't going to do the job, and he said as much Friday.

"What’s interesting is they talk about how different neighborhoods need to have different senses of identity and community building aspects of that -- you know, neighborhood pride, neighborhood identity, more so than we need to get in and inspect all these properties."

The approach Geneva is taking isn't for pansies or naysayers. It says quite clearly the city needs to become more entrepreneurial, which means risk, which means trying things that might not work, and not stop trying.

A word on success. The strategies here are not bulletproof. Not all will work the first time. Some won't work after repeated attempts, and so iteration and persistence will be required. The city must be willing to experiment and be flexible. We strongly recommend that the City of Geneva itself become entrepreneurial, that it take measured risks. In these economic times the margin for error is small, but we think the conditions in Geneva require that the city be innovative. This may mean failing in order to succeed, but learning from failure and moving forward, and always within the context of the guiding principles contained in this report.

November 20, 2009 - 10:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, localism.

I say it all the time -- if Western New York is going to turn itself around, to really spur a new era of job growth and economic vitality, it's going to take homegrown businesses leading the way. It's not going to happen by trying to recruit out-of-state industries into the region.

Daily Yonder has a post today that backs that supposition. It's about how North Carolina paid Dell a lot of money to locate a facility there, but now Dell is closing. Meanwhile, a locally grown company that got almost no government assistance is adding 600 jobs.

When are we going to halt public expenditures on the "buffalo hunt" for footloose industry and instead focus our resources and efforts on the sector that produces by far most of the jobs -- existing industry and homegrown business?

Note, that the author isn't against the kind of infrastructure development going on at the new agri-business park (though I know some of our conservative readers will take issue with the expenditure). He's talking about tax breaks and outright grants to bring in business.

The scholarly literature on incentives shows that they are a very poor investment of public resources. And, of course, the business sector has become expert at playing off one state against another in something akin to corporate extortion; and who can blame them?

Imagine if the South in general and North Carolina in particular had put all of the money spent on industrial recruitment into education, training and small business support. We would be watching even more Quintiles, Cree, PPD, Southern Seasons, Performance Bicycle and other homegrown entrepreneurial success stories all across North Carolina. And, although there are no silver bullets in economic development, homegrown businesses are more likely to stay put, invest in the local community, provide stable civic leadership and keep the control and wealth local instead of away at some remote corporate headquarters.

I continue to maintain that we need to find some way to spur more entrepreneurship, to encourage people already living and working here to take their great ideas and turn them into businesses. If we do invest (as taxpayers) in job growth (not saying we should, just if we do), it should be in businesses started locally, not in recruitment.

November 16, 2009 - 10:25am
posted by Chelsea O'Brien in batavia, main street, buy local, localism, Local Businesses.

Peter and I have been discussing an idea for a few months and wanted some feedback. We're thinking about possibly opening a bakery in Batavia. We'd like for it to be on main street, so it is available to people who drive and/or walk around.


I have a few questions for all of you local Batavians and those in Genesee County:

1) Would you utilize a local bakery instead of using Walmart and Top's baked goods?

2) What kind of goods would you like to see from a local bakery?

3) What features would you want in a bakery (ex: coffee, a cafe/eating area, etc)?

4) During what hours (and times) would you most likely visit a bakery (ex: morning, afternoon/lunch, holidays, etc)?

5) Would you utilize a specialty cake service?


Thanks for your input!

November 1, 2009 - 9:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in new york, localism.


This morning I discovered the art work of Jim Parker. He's an Upstate artist.

While none of his subjects seem to touch on Genesee County, I wanted to share this finding because I'm as fascinated by the style and quality of his work as I am by the subject.  

Billie and I have enjoyed what little exploration we've been able to do of New York. It's a beautiful and historic state full of charming rural scenery and buildings. 

Among Parker's favorite topics for painting are villages, landscapes and buildings from Upstate counties in the 18th and 19th centuries.  These paintings can really feed the imagination because so many of the buildings he paints are still standing, or buildings like them are still standing all over he state.

October 28, 2009 - 5:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, localism, Greg'ry's Bakery and Cafe.


As a baker's son, I'm generally pretty aware of my surroundings when it comes to availability of cakes and bread. I've had a few conversations in the past few months with people along the lines of, "how come there's no bakery in Genesee County?"

Well, there is a bakery in Genesee County, and it just hadn't sunk into my head yet, but I happened to make a couple of trips out to Bergen this week, which reminded me about Greg'ry's Bakery and Cafe.

I stopped in there today -- they have a fine selection of locally made bread, cakes, scones, muffins and cookies. I'm glad I came across it again.

October 27, 2009 - 4:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, localism.

Neighbors need to start talking with each other more, said City Manager Jason Molino during Monday night's City Council meeting.

Molino was giving the council an update on the work of the Neighborhood Improvement Committee, which previously brought forward programs for additional enforcement of yard clean up and property improvements.

There's a three-pronged approach to neighborhood improvement the city should pursue, Molino said:

  • Compliance with property standards use and regulations
  • Community Development Block Grants to help low-income property owners fix up and maintain their houses
  • And community engagement.

Here's Molino's full comment from last night on the community aspect of neighborhood improvement:

We’ve had some preliminary talks about how we can also facilitate the possibility, facilitate neighbors getting out and communicating more with each other, whether through national night out types of events, where you’re getting neighborhoods, blocks, streets out so that they’re socializing and communicating with their neighbors.

A good question to ask is, "Do we know 50 percent of the neighbors around us?” If you don’t, why not?

Those types of things are really going to be the crux of improving what you want to improve in terms of neighborhoods. You want to get neighbors communicating with each other, creating a dependent neighborhood where people look out for each other, they communicate, they talk, because if you’ve got undesirables that want to relocate into the area, they’re not going to want to come to a neighborhood or a street where neighbors are looking out for each other, neighbors are talking, neighbors have good relationships with law enforcement in the city to be able to report problems. That’s going to deter them from coming to that neighborhood, if  they’re non-desirables, so to speak.

It’s going to help with a little bit more pride, a little more esprit de corps. People are going to want to talk with each other, to communicate, to bring a little more of that sense of community back.

We’ve seen a little bit of a down spiral, and I don’t think Batavia is uncommon. It’s like a lot of communities. People are not volunteering as much, people are not familiar with their neighborhoods anymore. I think we want to try and bring that back. The way we want to do that is working with some of the departments, getting into select neighborhoods -- each is going to be different -- getting the people on the streets communicating with each other and talking with each other. Those are the types of things that I think are really going to make a difference in the long term.

I told Jason after the meeting that his little speech sounded a lot like something I might say on The Batavian. So many community problems can be solved just through a higher ratio of social connectedness. Communities with higher connectedness have less crime, better graduation rates, higher average income, less disparity between high- and low-income wage earners, better physical health, lower infant-mortality rates and lower teen-pregnancy rates. 

I recommended to Jason a book you've seen me mention before: Bowling Alone, by Robert Putnam. Putnam's work (Putnam is a sociologist) pretty much backs up everything Molino said.

October 27, 2009 - 12:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Health Care, localism.

In the little town of Scituate, Rhode Island, everyone has primary health coverage -- even the people who can't afford health insurance.

No, Scituate hasn't become an experiment in some single-payer scheme. People in the town banded together and figured out how to make it happen.

The people of Scituate, Rhode Island did it themselves.

No, we don’t give away health insurance – that’s too darn expensive. Instead, we make sure everyone who lives here has primary care (which only costs $25 a month). By coupling together grants, and a little money from the town, and doing bake sales and walk-a-thons, something called the Scituate Health Alliance decided, 10 years ago that we could fix the health care system ourselves – or, more accurately, build one from scratch — by providing primary care medical for everyone in town who doesn’t have insurance. (We also do flu shots for anyone in town who wants one and organize prenatal classes for anyone who is pregnant.)

While the effort isn't without taxpayer support (read, grants and money from the town), it does show how a community can come together to provide a service.

October 22, 2009 - 10:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, books, bill kauffman, localism.

Why do a small town's best and brightest young people relocate to big cities?

The common assumption is that they leave to seek better opportunities or more excitement.

Bill Kauffman has a different theory -- our teachers, civic leaders, parents and American culture try to convince rural young people that to be an achiever, you have to go elsewhere. There's little thought to the notion that you can achieve right where you're rooted.

Kauffman discusses this idea in a book review for the Wall Street Journal:

The sharpest insight in "Hollowing Out the Middle" is that "small towns play an unwitting role in their own decline" by inculcating, in school and too often at home, the belief that fulfilling one's promise means leaving for the city lights or the manicured suburbs. The purpose of education today, as Kentucky poet-farmer Wendell Berry argues, is to train young people to leave home. And so, the authors note, "the investment the community has made in them becomes a boon for someplace else."

Batavia is full of bright, young people who have decided to stay, or who have come back. I've met them. Batavia's future would be even brighter if we could convince more of them to stay and help build new businesses and invest in the community that nurtured them.

Read the whole thing.

September 18, 2009 - 11:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, economy, localism, locovore.


Relative to our discussions recently about dairy farms is this chart showing the decline in food-dollar share going to farmers since 1950.

As Daily Yonder points out, some of the decline is due to the increase the amount of money people now spend eating out rather than at home. While eating out doesn't mean farmers make less, per se, it does mean the overall amount of dollars spent on food has increased, with a good portion going to the mark-up of restaurants.  (Sadly for social capital, much of the increase has gone to fast-food chains, where people are generally less social than in the corner diner.)

Now, there has been some relief for consumers recently, with grocery prices dropping as much as 25 percent on some items, but that doesn't necessarily spell relief for farmers.

There are numerous problems facing farmers, from the rise of conglomerate buyers (decreased competition) to price discovery structures that may not fit with modern technology and communication.

Still, this chart backs up something Steve Hawley told me two days ago: Farmers he knows are getting the same price for their products that he got when he was a hog- and cash-crop farmer 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, all of the costs associated with running a farm has continued to go up, from labor to fuel and fertilizer and insurance.

Farmers are in a tough spot and now we have China threatening a trade war over chickens and tires.

A lot of these problems seem inter-related, from high government spending driving up taxes, to the purpose of anti-trust law being turned from its original intent, which was to ensure small-business competition. The law has morphed into ensuring that consumers get the cheapest price at Wal-Mart, thus fueling the rise of conglomerates and pushing U.S. jobs overseas in search of super-cheap labor.

This isn't a problem the government can necessarily fix for us. Consumers need to be smarter about how they flex their purchasing power, spending more money with locally owned businesses and avoiding big-box conglomerate retailers as much as possible.

Especially, buy locally produced food as much as possible.

September 18, 2009 - 10:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, schools, localism, kirsten gillibrand, locovore.

New York's apple growers have won approval to provide cleaned, sliced and bagged apples to area schools.

The USDA has eased restrictions on what "processed food" means for the purpose of distributing locally grown agriculture products to local school children.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in a press release this morning, said she lobbied the USDA for the change.

“We have to let our farmers do what they do best, and that’s deliver fresh fruits and vegetable to local communities,” said Senator Gillibrand.  “New York farmers produce some of the highest quality, fresh produce in the country. The Farm Bill was supposed to make it easier for farmers to sell produce directly to New York schools, and this USDA ruling will finally ensure that our students will have healthy New York produce and our farmers can earn the extra income that comes from providing value-added products such as pre-cut apples. During difficult economic times, we need this new market to create jobs.”

Full press release after the jump:

September 7, 2009 - 7:22pm
posted by Session Placeholder in Announcements, business, agriculture, localism, locolvore.

Northeast berry growers can learn about the latest production techniques and integrated pest management practices from university experts in a series of online web seminars this fall and winter. The first of the dozen interactive, hour-long Œwebinars‚ is scheduled for September 9 and will focus on growing strawberries on plastic and in high tunnels.  The berry IPM webinar series is hosted by the Cornell University Department of Horticulture and funded by the Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center.
The webinars are free, and participation is easy for anyone with a web browser and a high-speed internet connection.  (Pre-registration is required.)  If you can‚t participate from your home or office computer, group viewings are being organized at selected Cornell Cooperative Extension offices around the state and other sites across the northeast region.  Webinars will be recorded and archived for later viewing.
Webinar speakers will make their presentations live, and respond to questions and comments that participants type into an online chat box. 
The webcasts are divided into 3 mini series focusing on major berry crops: strawberries, brambles, and blueberries/cranberries. Four presentations on each crop group comprise a mini series. 
Alternative Production Methods for Strawberries will kick off the strawberry mini series when it airs live September 9th, 2009 at 12:45 PM. Featured speakers for this webcast are Dr. Lewis Jett, West Virginia State University, and Ms. Kathy Demchak, Penn State University. Dr. Jett will be speaking on growing strawberries in high tunnels. Ms. Demchak will be speaking on northeast approaches to growing strawberries on plastic.
The first presentation will be offered at a variety of group session locations throughout NYS including CCE Albany, CCE Chautauqua, CCE Clinton, CCE Jefferson, CCE Oneida, and CCE Suffolk counties. Some of these group sessions may include an additional on site speaker or other berry-related event following the webcast, so please contact individual CCE offices for more information.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 will be the 2nd webcast in the strawberry series, also airing at 12:45 PM. Dr. Greg Loeb, Cornell University, will speak about managing strawberry sap beetle and tarnished plant bug;  Dr. Richard Cowles, University of Connecticut, will help growers better understand strawberry vine weevil and its management.
Wednesday October 7th, 2009, 12:45 PM. Dr. Michael Ellis, Ohio State University, will speak on managing strawberry root diseases; Dr. David Gadoury, Cornell University will speak on strawberry powdery mildew management. 
Friday October 30th, 2009, 12:45 PM. Dr. Robin Bellinder, Cornell University, will give an overview of strawberry weed management products; Dr. Marvin Pritts, Cornell University, will speak on cultural approaches to strawberry weed management.
There is no charge for webcast participation, but registration is required. Email with URL connection details is only sent to people who have registered. Connection details are sent about two days before the webinars. Please be connected by 12:45 PM.
Connections for each webcast are limited to 70 participants so register now by contacting Laura McDermott, [email protected] or calling 518-746-2562.

Check the web site for additional program and group viewing location details: www.fruit.cornell.edu/webinar <http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/webinar>  <http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/webinar> .
For more information contact Jan Beglinger, Agriculture Outreach Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, at 343-3040, ext. 126, stop by the Extension office at 420 E. Main Street in Batavia, or visit our website at htttp://genesee.shutterfly.com <http://genesee.shutterfly.com/> .

September 3, 2009 - 12:11pm
posted by Session Placeholder in agriculture, food, localism, localvore.

Salad Greens with Cherries.jpgBy Becky LeFevre

Summer is almost over! Labor day is approaching, school is about to start, and the cherries are in season. Cherries in season? Thanks to creative cultivating and new storage technologies, local farms really do have fresh cherries in season RIGHT NOW! Schwab Farm, located in Gasport NY, has been working with Cornell researchers this season on testing the effects of Modified Atmosphere Packaging on different varieties of sweet cherries. Modified Atmosphere Packaging, or MAP, is the technical term for plastic storage bags that extend the life of fresh produce by controlling the atmosphere (specifically the CO2 and O2 levels) inside the bag. Given a more controlled climate, produce stays fresher longer.   But, its not as easy at it sounds. Each type of produce, and each variety within each type, reacts differently to the MAP. At Schwab Farm, different varieties of sweet cherries are placed in MAP and the effects of the MAP are carefully studied to see which varieties of sweet cherries perform best in the new packaging. This current testing will help fruit growers in the future know which varieties to grow for use in MAP, so that the freshest sweet cherries can make it to market much later into the season.

Sharon Brent from Schwab Farms sells produce at the Genesee Country Farmers Market (located in the Batavia Downs parking lot on Park Rd.) every Tuesday and Friday, and hopes to have sweet cherries for sale until Labor Day. That is remarkable, considering the typical sweet cherry season in western New York ends around the first of August. In addition to the use of MAP, cherries are available from Schwab Farm because the farm grows a wide variety of cherries that mature at different times. While some varieties are done around Aug. 1st, many other varieties continue to mature throughout the month of August. 

Cornell chose to specifically study the effects of MAP on sweet cherries for a few reasons. Cherries are becoming more popular due to recent discoveries of their health benefits. Cherries have powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and even the ability to reduce the risk of some types of cancer and Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, sweet cherries have a very short shelf life, and here in the northeast we have a relatively short growing season. MAP can greatly help farmers meet the local demands for cherries. Instead of purchasing an alternative at the grocery store, local consumers can buy fresh produce from local farms much later into the season. This means our dollars stay in the local economy, and fruit we eat is as fresh and nutritious as possible.

With fresh cherries available later in the season, there may be a need for some fresh ideas on how to use them. Pick up some sweet cherries this week at the Genesee Country Farmers Market and try one of the quick recipes below.

Cherry Vanilla Smoothie
(Measurements are approximate; add more or less according to your taste)
2cups fresh sweet cherries, washed and pitted
1 ½ cups of plain yogurt
3 Tblsp. Honey
½ tsp. Vanilla extract
Process all ingredients in blender until smooth. Enjoy!
Salad Greens with Cherries and Blueberry Vinaigrette
This simple salad is absolutely delicious, a welcome change from the traditional garden salad. The Blueberry vinegar is a great compliment to the cherries. Add some grilled chicken and sliced almonds to turn this side salad into a complete meal.
1 head of lettuce or an assortment of mixed salad greens
1 small red onion, finely sliced
2 cups of sweet cherries, pitted and cut in half
Hill N’ Hollow Blueberry Vinegar (This vinegar is locally made in Genesee County and tastes sweet and spicy, with a hint of cloves. It can be purchased from Present Tense Books and Gifts on Tuesdays at the Genesee Country Farmer’s Market)
Wash and tear lettuce and place in bowl. Top with sliced onion and sweet cherries. Serve with Blueberry Vinegar. 
August 15, 2009 - 8:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, localism, organic, handmade.


Today, Billie and I drove around Genesee County a bit just to look around.  After lunch at the Darien Cafe, we spotted a roadside fruit stand, and upon looking more closely, Billie saw a woman in the barn just behind it sitting and weaving, so we stopped.

Dale and Mary Jacobs sell their handcrafted blankets, towels, shoestrings and place mats from their barn -- all the items are handmade from locally grown material.

They also sell vegetables from their garden -- everything organically grown.

"I was a weaver already and Dale was a gardener, so when we retired, we just expanded on what we already did," Mary said.

Dale, is, in fact, a master gardener through the Cornell Extension.

They've had their business about 10 years.

Crooked Creek Farm is located at 1438 Broadway Road in Darien Center.



August 10, 2009 - 12:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman, localism.

Yesterday, Sunday, I rode with Batavia native, Elba resident, nationally known author, Bill Kauffman and WNED reporter and Darien resident Jay Moran down to Alfred to hear Bill deliver a speech on localism to a Green Party gathering at the university there. The video is broken into three parts because of YouTube's upload limits. The total runtime is less than 20 minutes.

Next two parts after the jump:

August 8, 2009 - 3:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, localism.

Bill Kauffman has a post over at Front Porch Republic about finding great localist/regionalist songs, songs that celebrate place and home.

He leads off with this wonderful piece by Iris DeMent.

Which I'd never heard before.

He includes this classic by The Pretenders.

What a simple, angry song about paving over of our cities and rural lands by chain retailers, destroying the heritage of communities all across the country.  Chrissie Hynde sings about Ohio, but I always associate this song with my former hometown, El Cajon, Calif., which has something in common with Batavia -- a downtown pretty well damaged by urban renewal, though El Cajon was left in much worse shape.

The other classic anti-urban renewal song comes from a Brit, Ray Davies, and The Kinks.

But not all great localist songs lament what used to be. Some great ones celebrate home, like CCR's "Looking Out My Backdoor."

The first week I moved to New York from California, one of my favorite music artists, and there's no pretense in calling him an artist, Dave Alvin released a new CD of songs by California songwriters writing about California.  The first time I heard "California Bloodlines," I couldn't help but tear up.

The song was written by John Stewart and you can see him perform his version here.

I could do a whole post of Dave Alvin "California" songs, going back to his early days with The Blasters.

The last place in California I lived was Bakersfield, which is the subject the classic, "Streets of Bakersfield."  You know that song was written by somebody who lived in Bakersfield for a long time, as it opens up with the perfect conundrum that describes Bako: "You don't know me, but you don't like me / You say you care less how I feel ..."

Bakersfield got slammed pretty good by this local rap due in "Armpit of the State."

The last song to share is another classic picking on Bakersfield's less positive attributes, "Kern River."  That river claims five or six lives every year. 

OK, one more Merle Haggard song, because it takes me back to a time when I lived in a big city and longed to move to a small town ... and I finally made it when I arrived in Batavia.

Do you have any favorite localist songs, songs of place?

To post a video in your comment, use a bracket "[" and then the word "video" followed by a colon ":" then the URL to the YouTube video, then close bracket "]"

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