Farmers cannot survive unless people buy what they produce. The heart of this exhibition will focus on the“art” of farm marketing: architecture, signage, and display techniques that encourage people to stop, look, and purchase.
These words are part of the introductory text for a fascinating show on local farming at a museum where I used to work. One of the reasons (there are many) I don’t do vegetable gardening is that growing up surrounded by Western New York farms, my family was long in the habit of driving out to the “country” (which didn’t take long—about 10 minutes) to harvest the produce offered on farm stands up and down every rural road. Right now most of those stands are bright orange with pumpkins and other squash, but there are still a lot of other goods available.
Last night I attended an event at the Castellani Art Museum, which is hosting this show. The curator, Kate Koperski, is a longtime friend who married a local farmer while we were both working there in the 90s. Her husband Tom Tower was one of the first to introduce WNY to the joys of heirloom tomatoes and he is also renowned for his interesting apple varieties. He’s considered one of the “go-to” authorities whenever farming is discussed and he started a city farmer’s market (all local, much of it organic) in Buffalo—one of four we have; there are others in the burbs—that is a popular gathering point every Saturday morning during the growing season. With resources like this at hand, I feel justified in relying on what I can buy rather than what I can grow. (Those of you who have seen my space will easily guess the main reasons I’m not an urban farmer.) I hope to post some images from this wonderful exhibition later this week.
In the meantime, here’s part of an interview with farmer Tom Tower from Buffalo Rising Online on the importance of local farms (he is onsite at a big local farmmarket).