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Erie County adapts to growing local food movement

WBFO File Photo

Farming continues to be a significant industry in Erie County, although it's changing to reflect the rise of home-grown beers and a consumer push for more locally-grown food.

There are fewer farms in the county than there were, reflecting the shift away from smaller dairy farms. But some farms are getting bigger, like the vegetable farms in Eden supplying markets and farmers' markets and some smaller farms producing specialty crops like hops for beer. That's why the County Legislature has approved continuing three-agricultural districts.

Newly re-elected Legislature Chair John Mills is in the food business and sees the local food push.

"It's a hot button because Tops Markets are a good example, Wegman's also buying a lot of the produce, in the summer especially, from local farmers. I think people really believe in the local farmers," Mills said.

Legislators approved continuing the Amherst Agricultural district with no changes, adding three farms with 143-acres to a district covering Boston, Elma and Alden. They've also one farm and dropped another in Lancaster and Alden.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.