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Porter Farms

Porter Farms participating in CSA week to support local agriculture

By Press Release


Press release:

Porter Farms is excited to join other CSA farmers across the country to celebrate CSA Week, a national event taking place from February 20th through February 26th to promote CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). CSA is a farm membership system that allows consumers to sign up to receive a season’s worth of a farm’s products every week. Along with getting to enjoy fresh, delicious, and local food, being a CSA member is an excellent way to support and get to know your local farmers.

Join us in promoting CSA Week, the most popular time of the year to sign-up for a CSA! When you sign up to become a CSA member, your financial support helps us prepare for the growing season. You’ll enjoy high-quality produce while taking comfort in knowing where and how your food was grown. Don’t wait to sign up, as we have limited spots available! Our farm is offering a $20 Early Bird discount to people who sign up before April 15th. There has never been a better time to connect with fresh local food while helping to make our local food systems and communities more resilient.

We offer several options for your ease of joining.  Individual shares can be picked up locally at the farm, or at one of our several western New York sites, or if your organization has enough interested members, we will make you a pickup site of your own.  “We strive to make your pickup and membership as easy and convenient as possible for you.  Reasonable accommodations are made to ensure your experience is easy, fast, and rewarding” says Farm Manager Kathy Riggs-Allen.

How to Participate in CSA Week
If you would like to celebrate CSA Week and support Porter Farms, sign up to become a CSA member, and use the hashtag #CSAWeek to join the online conversation.

“Signing up is easy,” says CSA Manager Katie Metzler. “To learn more and to join us for the 2022 season, you can reach us at

Click the join tab at the top of the page to learn more about our share options and delivery locations. We are always looking to expand our reach throughout Western New York, and can even accommodate workplace deliveries during the week.

Porter Farms carries on tradition of offering locally grown, organic produce to residents throughout WNY

By Mike Pettinella


The day-to-day operations manager at Porter Farms in the Town of Elba is determined to make all of Western New York aware of the substantial benefits of local farm markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs.

“I think that we all know that after COVID, we can’t rely on big box stores for everything that we need,” Kathy Riggs-Allen, a longtime Elba resident said today at the retail store and CSA processing site at 4911 Edgerton Road.

 “You’ve got something like this right in your backyard. Whether it’s us, or Torrey’s Farm Market on (Route) 98 and Underhill's in Elba or Harrington’s in Batavia. You have these awesome things right in our area.”

Today was CSA pickup day at Porter Farms, which, for 25 years, has forged relationships with consumers who support the farm by purchasing memberships and, in return, receiving a bag of produce each week during the 22-week or so growing season.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Library, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm -- with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.

Per the USDA, through these memberships the farmer receives advance working capital, gains financial security, earns better crop prices, and benefits from the direct marketing plan.

Riggs-Allen reported that membership in the CSA at Porter Farms currently is at approximately 450 members, with around 250 from the Buffalo area, 100 from the Rochester area and another 100 local residents.

She said that a full share costs around $20 a week while a half share (a little more than half of what is in the bag for a full share) costs around $15 a week, with memberships paid in advance.

All of the produce in the bag is organic, grown on the more than 500 acres owned by the Porter family.

“Every Saturday morning, we bag and retrieve produce for our members,” Riggs-Allen said. “For the Buffalo area members, we have divided them into about 17 different groups – with letters on the wall that indicate the (street or town) location. If there’s 13 people in your group, you take turns and you can drive out here – usually twice a season – and pick up the bags for everyone in that group. From there, you would take it to a pickup site where everyone in that group would come to that pickup site to get their bag.”

The Rochester area members are divided into five pickup sites, she said.

“For them, we load a truck first thing every Saturday morning, and the truck drops off the produce at those five sites, and the people in those groups go to their sites to pick up,” she explained. “Anybody can come to the farm and pick their share up. If you want to come every week, that’s great. If you don’t, you can be assigned to a group.”

Riggs-Allen said the farm is looking to grow the CSA, which at one time had more than 1,000 members.

She said samples of the vegetables that are being picked that particular week are available at the retail store.

This week’s bag contains potted oregano, white onions, baby romaine lettuce, cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini and purple kohlrabi (the name kohlrabi is German for “cabbage turnip”).

Ruth Miller, of West Barre, part of a family of retired dairy farmers, said she has been a CSA member for five years and appreciates “the food and the fellowship.”

“(I support) the idea of group, community farming. We’re farmers as well, so we understand the business and kudos to these people who are doing this,” she said, adding that the fact that the vegetables are organic is important.

“There’s a process that farms have to go through to be certified organic – and it is quite a process. No use of chemicals or contaminated seeds. No herbicides or pesticides,” she noted.

Riggs-Allen said another key factor in the organic process for vegetables is crop rotation.

“We can’t fertilize and put nutrients back into the soil with fertilizers so we have to use additional crops that put those nutrients back in,” she advised. “Crops such as beans and peas take a lot of nitrates out of the ground, so wherever you plant those one year, you want to be put a cover crop that’s going to repopulate those nitrates into the ground.”

Elba resident Bill Kauffman, a 20-year CSA member, said the program has given him a new appreciation of produce.

“I was somewhat vegetable averse,” he said, but over time he indicated that he has grown to love zucchini.

“I’m the world’s worst baker, but last night I made zucchini cake – and it was edible. This has expanded my vegetable horizons, but there still are certain ‘no go’ areas like kohlrabi,” he joked.

Kauffman added that the Porters “are a wonderful family and they have created something beautiful and enduring here; I’m happy to be a little part of it.”

The family also owns a certified organic orchard of Asian pears and apples on Route 262 and rents additional farmland in the area.

Vegetables grown include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, varieties of lettuce, onion, leek, winter squash, beets, peas and other greens.

At the recently opened retail store, the Porters sell all-natural Angus ground beef and lamb, produced from the livestock raised on their farm, as well as herbs, local honey and syrup, baked goods and other items.

The farm was started in 1956 by the late Carlton “Jack” Porter Jr. and carried on by his sons, Steve and Mike, who also have passed away.

Currently, Debbie Porter owns the farm, with Katie Porter-Metzler and Emily Porter-Swarner as key contributors to the operation and CSA program.

The retail store is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. An open house, featuring activities for families, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 7.





Photo at top: Kathy Riggs-Allen and Emily Porter-Swarner display the contents of this week's CSA bag of produce at Porter Farms in Elba; photos at bottom: Porter Farms location on Edgerton Road; picture at the retail store of founder Jack Porter with children, Mike and Beatrice "Bess"; hats, T-shirts and tote bags for sale at the store; Katie Porter-Metzler with children Georgia, Cora and Suzanna; Riggs-Allen, and Debbie Porter. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Surprise lamb born during the Blizzard of '14 at Porter Farms

By Howard B. Owens

Normally, according to Peter Metzler, at Porter Farms, ewes start to lamb in March and April, so it came as quite a surprise today when this little one was found -- an unexpected newborn in the freezing cold, shivering by its mother. Jake Hillabush is holding the lamb to help warm it up shortly after it was found. The lamb was born sometime between morning and afternoon chores. Once the little one was warmed a bit, they put mom and baby in a small pen to bed down and stay warm in a pile of straw.

Memberships offered for organic produce co-op of YWCA and Porter Farms

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The YWCA of Genesee County and Porter Farms are partnering to bring locally grown certified-organic produce to the community.

Anyone can buy a membership through the YWCA for the Community-Supported Agriculture Community Outreach Program. The cost is $330 per membership, and the cost and the produce can be split among families. The cost amounts to less than $1.60 per pound of produce.

Members receive 22 weeks of fresh, organic produce through the growing season. Produce distribution begins in late June and runs through the end of November.

The pick-up site is the YWCA building at 301 North St. in the City of Batavia from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.

For every 15 new memberships signed up through the YWCA, Porter Farms will donate one membership to a family in need.

For more information or to sign up, call the YWCA at 343-5808 or provide your name and phone number to the Y via email at <>

Porters keep farming in the family

By Gretel Kauffman

If you're looking for fresh, locally grown produce, look no further than Porter Farms on Edgerton Road in Elba.

I stopped by the farm on Tuesday morning to talk to Katie Porter (pictured above with her three-legged dog, Milo) and get a tour of the family farm, which is one of the top models for organic growers and Community Supported Agriculture in the nation.

Porter, a 2004 graduate of Elba High School and a 2008 graduate of Cornell University, says that she has worked on the farm as far back as she can remember.

"When we first started the CSA, it was my dad, my sister and I," Porter says.  "We helped him with the newsletter and the produce."

Today, as the manager of the program, she writes the newsletter, does presentations to promote the farm, makes phone calls, sends out emails, and oversees distribution of the produce.

"Basically what the CSA is, is people buy a share and we use the money to pay for seeds, labor, equipment repair, stuff like that. Then in return we give them fresh, locally grown produce. Since their money goes right into the farm, they really get to feel what it's like to be a farmer."

Porter says that she thinks this is a big part of the CSA's appeal. It is growing rapidly, with approximately 860 members, which is about 760 members more than it started with in 1996.

"If we have a bad season, the members see the results. Like this year our tomatoes weren't too good, so they didn't really get tomatoes. Or if we have an abundance of onions, they'll get a lot of onions. I think people like it not only because they get their vegetables, but because they learn a lot about farming."

The program usually begins in June and ends in November and is either $310 or $340 a share, depending on whether you choose to pick up your produce at the farm Saturday mornings, or have it delivered if you live in the Rochester area. 

"It's so funny how everyone comes here on Saturday mornings and seems to know everyone else. They just hang out and talk."

The farm, which was started in 1956 by Jack Porter, began as a beef-feeding operation.  In the 1970s the Porters decided to grow the crops they needed to feed the cattle, such as hay, corn and wheat. Eventually pigs and sheep were added to the farm. 

In 1990, due to economic downturns in the livestock market, Jack's sons Steve and Mike switched the focus to crops and began experimenting with organics. Today, the 500+ acre farm is entirely organic and, since the deaths of Jack and Steve, is run by Katie's uncle Mike Porter with assistance from Katie, her sister Sarah and the rest of the family.

"It's definitely beneficial to the environment, It gives us healthier soil and helps with biodiversity.  We're farming the way people used to farm."                                


A visit to Porter Farms in Elba: Working on the farm in winter

By Philip Anselmo

On this particular Wednesday morning in February, a thermometer posted outside the School for the Blind in downtown Batavia reads an air temperature of nearly five degrees below zero. Cold enough to freeze the spit in your mouth before you can even get out the words: cold enough...

Cold enough that the steering wheel on my '93 rustbucket of a wagon needs more coaxing than usual to make a full left turn. Still. I make it to Porter Farms whole. Shivering, but whole. I'm not sure what to expect, though I've got an image of farmhands tucked into woolen socks, sitting around the fireplace thumbing seed catalogues and dissertations on soil conservation. I've got what you might call a novelistic imagination that doesn't often sync up with the way things really are.

Of course, there's too much work to be done to sit around the fireplace.

The farm's patriarch, Mike Porter, looks over paperwork in the cab of his pickup. He's got the engine running for heat. Inside the barn behind where he's parked, the hundred or more sheep mill about in their stalls, caterwauling like the dullards that Porter assures me they are.

After he shuffles a few of them out into the bleak white light of day, they start to cough. Agitated from the rush to get outside, they stir up some of the dust in the feed they just sucked down. They sound like old men, hacking up a lifetime's worth of lung tar.

I ask Mike what life is like on the farm in the middle of a desolate upstate winter. He shrugs. It's much the same as what life is like on the farm in the middle of a grueling humid upstate summer. Only, you get home by 6 o'clock instead of 10 o'clock.

"We're busy in the winter, but not as busy," he says. "I don't get here until between seven and eight, and I'm home by six. That's a short day."

Winter work is much like work the rest of the year for Mike. Only he's not in the fields pulling or planting crops in addition to doing everything else he does. As I said, I came expecting quiet study indoors while the fields outside crackled in the frost. Not so.

"We have livestock," he says, "so we're busy every day of the year."

They've got lambs and beef cattle. They're also still packing and shipping onions and cabbage. Plus they'll be starting the greenhouses in a few weeks. Then there's the work on the farm equipment that is about due to start... and the renewal for the organic certification... and all the planning. Always planning. Planning on what to plant, when to plant it, where to plant it.

So yeah. They're not sitting around darning socks and learning about soil erosion. "It's always a work in progress," he says. "If you stand still, you go backwards."

Porter Farms also maintains a Community-Supported Agriculture program that keeps folks busy throughout the year. They're about to start their 14th season. They wrapped up last year with 650 members. A CSA program allows folks in the community—some join from Rochester and Buffalo, too—to pay a lump sum to receive 22 weeks of farm fresh produce. They can pick up a bag of mixed vegetables from the farm every week from about the middle of June up until the week before Thanksgiving.

They grow everything for the program: beets, bell peppers, poblano peppers, summer squash, pumpkins, beans, lettuce, roma, heirloom and sun gold tomatoes, swiss chard, butterscotch melons, cucumbers... I could go on. You get about 10 to 12 pouns per bag. Plus they give you recipe suggestions and a weekly newsletter about the selection.

Mike's daughters take care of most of the work for the CSA program. He's busy with the livestock and the day-to-day running of the farm. A couple times of month, he makes the trek down to New Holland, Penn., where most of his sheep go to auction. Those are the really long days, he says. Some nights he may even end up staying over and driving back in the morning... to start it all again.

If you want to find out more about the CSA program, please check out the Web site for Porter Farms, which has all the info you need on how it works and how you can do it.

And now... some sheep butts for your viewing pleasure:

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