Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

August 23, 2010

Summer has been good to farm stand owners

LOCKPORT — There are a lot of homes in Niagara County where people like to share their produce with others. Some even run their own fresh fruit stand in their front yards, offering everything from corn to apples to tomatoes.

And like farmers, they’ve been affected in some way by the early and warmer summer. According to the National Weather Service, May and June were on average about three degrees warmer than last year. July averaged around 73 degrees this year, compared to 66.9 degrees in 2009.

For those roadside stands, some owners have noticed crops have come earlier this year. But whether it’s the warmer weather or the early crops, business is down this year at the Pyskatys’ stand at the intersection of Campbell Boulevard and Saunders Settlement Road.

Jeff Pyskaty said the stand has been in the family for years. Over the years it has been a stand that has sold dairy products, local produce and cider. As a cider stand it was well known locally, as people from all over would stop by.

“People have remembered the cider for years,” Pyskaty said.

That wasn’t the only claim to fame for the Pyskaty stand. Jeff’s father, Donald “Ski” Pyskaty was known for selling garlic there, under the name “Polish Prince of Garlic.”

The stand carries corn from Harris Farms in Gasport, as well as vegetables and fruit grown in the area. Donald Pyskaty still grows some products for the stand, too. People can also find pumpkins in the fall.

“We try and keep it as local as possible,” Pyskaty said.

Tom Budde and his sister Sara work for Pyskaty a few hours each week at the stand during the summer. Pyskaty is a teacher in the Barker School District and Budde is a former student of his.

“It can get busy,” Budde said. “We get a lot of customers from GM and Delphi.”

The Pyskatys usually keep the stand open until November. And they try to not let it take over their lives.

“It can get to be a lot of work,” Pyskaty said. “We don’t want it to get too big.”

Not all owners have noticed any effect on business. Carl Huntington has a small stand set up in front of his home in Hartland. The stand is all produce, all grown by Huntington.

Running the stand is something the family has done for 30 years. And this summer has been about the same as last year, Huntington said.

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“It’s been alright, slow some days,” he said.

According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, roadside fruitstands do not have to follow the same regulations as a store. The state does not view roadside stands as retail, but they are allowed to sell fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, honey and syrup. Any packaged food products must meet the state’s labeling requirements and any packaging or cutting up of products is prohibited.

The department also says roadside stands cannot sell home canned or jarred fruits, vegetables or sauces. That also goes for pies and cream- or cheese-filled baked goods.

But that doesn’t mean the roadside stand owners can’t diversify. The Pyskatys sell some unusual items such as golf balls, as well as some plants.

“Those are from our kids,” Pyskaty said.

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