Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

August 1, 2013


Farm-City Breakfast kicks off Niagara County Fair

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The “country girl” and “city  girl” spoke at the Farm-City Breakfast to open the Niagara County Fair Wednesday morning and made a back-to-back practical pitches for the renaissance of farming in Western Frontier.

Julie Blackman, whose family has been farming in Niagara County since 1862, and Lisa Tucker, the publisher of Edible Buffalo, shared the podium at the tent that was filled with agricultural stake holders.

Blackman and Tucker also have a shared vision.

Tucker spoke of the small farms which make up the majority agricultural business in the county. The plan would to create a food hub and connect small farms to large outlets, like Wegman’s and Tops. Bring back the food processing plants which are once available in the area.

Blackman, a sixth-generation farmer on the Blackman Homestead Farm in Cambria, said, “I’m the reality check” and spoke of the challenges the county challenges the county faces in agriculture.

• An inconsistent labor force.

• The cost of doing business in New York state.

• An abundance of regulations and codes in New York state. “They are important but can be obstacles for us. We need to get though those,” Blackman said.

• Weather is an issue every year farmers must mold their businesses seasonal shifts.

Julie Blackman, the daughter of Cambria councilman Roberet Blackman, works on retail sales in the U-Pick business, harvesting and bookwork.

Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who represents the 114th Assembly District, agrees with a distribution center for WNY farmers. Her district includes parts of Niagara, Erie, Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties.

“That’s a brilliant idea,” she said. “There is a renassisance for locally grown food. New York City wants Western New York produce. The problem is getting it there. People approach me about getting a distribution center in Alden. It’s a great idea and something I would like to see happen.”

Tucker is working on the initiative for the distribution. Blackman is doing that on a small scale, doing the running herself. Farms will take produce to other farms to make things more efficient. 

• Today’s schedule begins at 9 a.m. with the 4-H Western Horse Show. The Hula Hoop contest kicks off the afternoon at the 4-H training center at 1:30 p.m. The disc dogs perform at 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

• The Firefighter’s Parade, which returns after a 20-year break, goes through the fairgrounds at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The parade, sponsored by the Niagara County Fire Chief’s Association, will feature about 40 pieces of apparatus and volunteer firefighter.s

Jeff Baez, president of Terry’s Corners Fire Co., and Jeff Dewart, assistant chief of Barker Fire Co. are in charge. They attended the last parade 20 years ago as volunteers for their respective complanies.

They are close to getting 100 percent participation from the 33 fire companies in the district. Some districts will parade with more than one piece of equipment and some will show antique trucks.

“It’s looking good,” Baez said.