Because farms are spread out across the region—and there seemingly aren’t too many in the city and denser suburbs—it might be surprising to learn that there are more than 100 farms in Western New York. And in 2020, they decided it was time to join forces and invite consumers to “Find Your Farmer in Western New York.” That’s the name of the Facebook page they created and that is open to anyone interested in learning about local crops. The group is easy to find in the Facebook search bar; once you locate it, click the “Join” button and you’ll be part of a 9,000-plus-member community offering information and tips.
With grocery prices skyrocketing, there’s no better time to check out local farm products. Many growers offer crop sharing through community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs that allow consumers to buy harvest directly from a farm or group of farms. Some places allow consumers to team up and split the harvest and/or will work with individual families.
This is crucial knowledge, as consumers often believe that buying from local merchants is difficult without a storefront or that small businesses are more expensive. By giving themselves a voice, farmers can better inform consumers about the treatment of livestock or crops, from unwashed eggs to unsprayed fruits and vegetables. Understanding what’s behind the scenes helps price points make a lot more sense.
The roadside farm markets you see as you drive along country roads don’t always reflect what’s available for purchase. Find Your Farmer in WNY offers a space for farmers to promote products directly to consumers. The page also provides a platform to share information about local vendors, tastings, meal ideas, farmers markets, U-pick locations, and even farmer-to-farmer tips ranging from livestock to machinery expertise.
Consumers in the group ask questions about anything from the benefits of certain farming processes to where to purchase a pack of bacon or fresh vegetables. Consumers should always be clear about what they’re looking for before purchasing. Some local farms only sell bulk, but it’s not the bulk you’ll find at BJs or Sam’s Club, but rather quarters to halves of livestock; for example, instead of one pack of bacon, you can purchase half of a pig. In their friendly and helpful nature, farmers will redirect you if your needs don’t match their product.
Beyond livestock, the group’s farmers also offer vegetables, fruits, specialty jams, soaps, flowers, eggs, and so much more. Many crafty items are often for sale at markets, and this page shares who will be where, and when.
When discussing farmers, consumers often envision a great expanse in the middle of nowhere, with cows in pastures grazing for miles. That’s not always the reality. Fortunately and conveniently, in their “featured” tab, Find Your Farmer administrators have flagged many local farms. Opening the link redirects to a pinpointed map showing locations of all participants. Click on a pointer to get the name, location, and information for the farm you’ve chosen.
Some farms may be at farmers markets, have a store location, and/or sell out of their home, but a few will assist with a direct delivery to your home, as well. Whether you’re in the heart of the city or the outskirts of a suburb, if you’re interested in what your local farmers have to offer, join Find Your Farmer. You may be surprised to see what’s in your own backyard.
Ashley Ziomek is a freelance writer living in WNY.