As the summer growing season develops here in Western New York, Erie County hopes shoppers will look for a new logo, ERIE GROWN, on fresh produce, whether in stores or at neighborhood farmers markets.
Speaking to his daily briefing, Erie County Executive Poloncarz said local farmers have been hit very hard by the quarantine, which has cut off many customers, like schools and restaurants. The new logo is intended to make sure local people know the produce they might buy was grown by local people.
Poloncarz said county residents don't know there are still nearly 1,000 farms in Erie County.
"Ninety-six percent of them are family farms. They're not big corporations, those big conglomerates that you often hear of that own the farms in the Midwest. Ours are family farms and 21% of them sell directly to consumers," he said. "And we have 10% fewer farms than we did in 2012 and 22% of Erie County's acreage is actually farmland. So we need to help our farmers and we also need to get goods into the hands of folks."
These farms are particularly in the southtowns.
"The bread basket of Erie County, as well as our eastern suburbs which have a high number of dairy and chicken farms," Poloncarz said. "We want people to understand that a good important aspect of our economy is our agricultural community and they have been tremendously hurt."
The county has put money into the local farm industry, including the Food Hub in the Eden Valley and the Erie County Industrial Development Agency's plans for an agricultural complex in the Town of Evans, and is planning more. Those local farms mean produce is often only a few hours from being picked when it's on the shelf in the store or market.