Tonawanda News

Features

October 8, 2012

The struggles and success stories of Niagara farmers

Tonawanda News — Imagine pulling an apple right off a tree and taking a crunchy, juicy bite. Now, think about the last time you drank an ice-cold glass of milk with that chocolate chip cookie. Or spread that ear of steaming hot corn with a tab of soft butter and noticed how, when you finally took a bite, the kernels popped in your mouth in little explosions of flavor.

If you love to eat food — if you find yourself closing your eyes and whispering “mmmmmmmm,” to yourself while tasting something delectable — then you are surely what people these days call “a foodie.”

I know I am one.  While I hardly ever pay full price for necessary items like shoes or clothing, I don’t bat an eye at spending my last dime on fine, fresh food. 

So, when my Leadership Niagara Class participated in “Agriculture Day,” I knew this was my kind of adventure. One recent, sunny, autumn day, my classmates and I got a chance to tour a variety of area farms and see where some of the food on our grocery shelves originates. As always, I was enlightened about the Niagara Region.

“I think people should know where their food comes from,” said Leadership Niagara director Molly Anderson, who calls this agriculture day her favorite in the leadership program. 

Just to remind you, in January I signed up for the Leadership Niagara 2012 class. My classmates and I — a mix of bankers, educators, law officers and other area professionals — meet once a month to enhance our leadership capabilities and learning more about our community. I’m in the program at the request of my publisher, Pete Mio, and while I was initially hesitant to devote so much time on any one enterprise, I have been delighted in both my classmates and the program experiences.

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    When the Niagara County Fair opens Wednesday, hundreds of people will enter the county fairgrounds in Lockport for the first of five days of exhibits, shows, rides and food.

    But what not all of the visitors may realize is that much of this summer tradition is the result of months of hard work by 4-H Club members and their leaders and families, all focused on the words of the 4-H motto: “Learn By Doing.”

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    Tattoos can be a touchy subject. Of course, people have heard they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; still, people continue to report being denied jobs and being judged harshly for proudly displaying their ink.

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  • sig - Crib Notes 2014 RGB.jpg CRIB NOTES: No matter what, the kids just want to play the game

    At 35 years old, I may be the oldest person ever to record an out in a kids’ T-ball league.

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    This past week, our lovely neighbors went to the beach for their annual weeklong vacation.

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    More than 90 private gardens throughout Western New York, and a number of public ones, are open to the public for select hours Thursdays and/or Fridays during July as part of the National Garden Festival’s Open Gardens program, now in its fifth year. The program is separate and distinct from local garden walks, and the gardens range from Gasport to Holland. They’re organized into districts of about five to eight gardens each, including Northtowns West (which includes gardens in Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda) and Niagara Trail (which includes gardens in Lockport, Gasport and Lewiston).

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  • SUN LIFE terrariums 1 072014.jpg For the love of nature

    Sara Johnson lives surrounded by green and growing things. Showing a visitor around her apartment in North Buffalo, she pointed out the plants in every room, the balcony and even in two small greenhouses — houseplants, flowers, vegetables, even carnivorous plants.

    "I try to keep as much growing in the house as I can," she said.

    Another goal of hers is to show others how to do the same — and to that end, Johnson is offering a series of workshops this summer in connection with her business, Sylvatica Terrariums, and Project 308 Gallery in North Tonawanda, teaching people how to bring a piece of the outdoors into their homes in the form of a terrarium or other greenery.

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    As an effort to get children out of the big city and give them a chance to spend part of their summer playing outside, the Fresh Air Fund brings New York City kids to stay with host families for a 10-day trip to a place which is vastly different from their usually surroundings.

    “They will be running outside and playing in the grass and going swimming,” said Cheryl Flick, a fund representative of the Northern Erie and Niagara Counties chapter of the Fresh Air Fund at a picnic for the host families and kids. “They won’t be cooped up inside, they’ll be outside, getting fresh air and being active.”

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    I think it’s true of many parents, that amidst the many challenges and hard work of parenting, we anticipate the day our children grow up just enough ... to like the same things we like, whether it’s as an ongoing phenomenon or a fond childhood memory.

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  • sig - critter companions RGB Calling all the basic locavores!

    Did you know that the suffix “vore” comes from the Latin word “voro,” which means to devour? I probably knew that once, but I should have paid better attention in my Latin class. “Vore” is used to form nouns indicating what kind of a diet an animal has, such as omnivore, carnivore and herbivore.

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    When Explore Buffalo Tours got started about eight months ago, the business concentrated on specialized tours designed to showcase specific aspects of the City of Buffalo’s history, architecture and culture.

    Now the organization is looking to the future and trying out ways to highlight the other unique aspects of the Western New York region. The tours change out each month, but the more popular ones will circulate back in, according to Explore Buffalo Executive Director Brad Hahn. This month it’s test-driving its “North Tonawanda: Lumber City” tour, one of only a few to take place outside the City of Buffalo. (Although a Lockport tour is in the works.)

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