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July 2015 Column - Farms feature unique summer activities


Amherst and Clarence bear sightings drew a great deal of attention from both the media and the community

During last Thursday’s session, Erie County Legislator Ed Rath recognized Majors Tom and Kathy Applin as the Legislature’s Citizens of the Month.

Additional summer funding to assist these organizations that serve children and the community
The Swormville Fire Company has offered years of dedication to serving and protecting the Amherst, Clarence and surrounding communities
Ed Rath wrapped up a three-week series of volunteering for Junior Achievement of Western New York

oneilj - Posted on 02 July 2015

Evident by the number of posts about it in my Facebook newsfeed, strawberry picking is a favorite summer tradition. Greg’s U-Pick Farm, located at 9270 Lapp Road in Clarence Center and owned by the Sandy and Greg Spoth, is one of the most popular spots around. This year has been one of its best strawberry crops in recent years, but picking could only go as late as the beginning of July but that is weather dependent, so don’t wait. If you do happen to miss out on strawberry season, Greg’s U-Pick also has blueberries (mid-July to mid-August) and blackberries and red raspberries (mid-August – mid-September).


Often times, when you talk about farming in Erie County, people think about Eden and communities in the southtowns, but here in the northeast section of the county we are not without expansive farmland and long-established ranches and horse farms. In fact, Amherst, Clarence, Newstead and Akron are home to many farms that have been here for generations. These local businesses are vital to our community. We are blessed to have land that sustains farming, in addition to individuals and families who are committed to excelling in this line of work.


Enjoying the goods produced by farms and ranches is getting more convenient. Large grocery stores have started partnering with local growers which makes it convenient for families to shop local. Also, several farms operate their own markets. Greg’s U-Pick Farm Market will open with the start of blueberry season.  Visit www.gregsupick.com, for hours of operation. You can also purchase local produce and goods by shopping at farmers markets. The Clarence Hollow Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October at 10717 Main St., Clarence, and the Williamsville Farmers Market, which has moved to Island Park this year, is open  8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays through Oct. 31. Visit www.clarencefarmersmarket.com or www.williamsvillefarmersmarket.com for information.


Another farming industry which has a huge presence in the sixth legislative district is the greenhouses. Many of these farming operations create hundreds of full-time and seasonal jobs and produce a major economic boon to Erie County. If you travel Tonawanda Creek Road in Amherst, Transit Road, County Road or countless others you can’t miss these operations that produce and sell flowers and plants. My family and I regularly shop at these local businesses and I encourage everyone to stop in and buy local. 


One local family has put my district on the agritourism map by turning Kelkenberg Farm at 9270 Wolcott Road in Clarence Center into a destination for families, school trips and visitors. The Kelkenberg family has developed a great program for our young people to learn about farm animals and caring for them. For information, visit www.kelkenbergfarm.com.


I know I only touched on a little bit of what the farms and ranches in the northeast section of Erie County mean to our community and have to offer, so please get out there and explore, and remember to eat local and support local businesses.