Niagara Gazette

Features

October 4, 2012

LEADERSHIP CHRONICLES: Pay dirt

The struggles and success stories of Niagara farmers

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

We learned that farming these days is best done with expensive machinery and fancy technology.  Because, as our dairy farmer, Roger White, said, "If we don't keep up with technology and change with the times, the next generation won't stay on the farm." And, yet, in the long haul, it appears that Mother Nature is always the decider in the fate of the farms.

Local farmers these days are faced with  "Skinny, skinny margins,"  and fewer farms -- down from 137 farms to about 70 in the county according to our tour guide, Krista Snell, a member of the Leadership Niagara class of 2007, who works at Farm Credit East, an area farm lending company.  "The day of buying cheap land is over in Niagara County," she told us.

Despite the challenges they face, we also learned that these farmers love the land and love what they do. To a person they appear devoted and intelligent. And they are passionate about producing the food, the milk and the wines we drink. 

All in all, it was a day well spent. I arrived back at my car worn to the bone from so much active learning. But, I was energized and inspired by the farmers we met and the creative force they displayed, and fortified by their message that when you love what you do your future is unlimited.

Want to support your local farmer? Take a cue from the owner of Niagara Landings.  "I tell people to go to their local liquor stores and ask for my wines. That's what seems to work best for us," he said.

During the tour of the cold storage facility, where the shinest, crunchiest, most perfect apples are gently picked from the orchards and bagged  for purchase, our tour guide tells us how to check and see if something is locally grown. Ask your grocer, he says.

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