To market!


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).

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at