By Kellen M. Quigley
As the nights become cooler and the days become shorter, the peak of the harvest is underway leading up to the beautiful fall weather hitting Western New York.
On Vaughn Street (Route 240) between Springville and East Concord, several local farms and gardens are looking forward to the fall after a tough start to the season earlier this spring.
“It was a challenging spring. May was very cold,” said Ellen Krzemien, owner of The Flower Stand, located at 13187 Vaughn St. “Even when the plants were ready to come out of the greenhouse and go in the ground, the soil was too cold and wet, so we did get a bit of a late start.”
According to its website, The Flower Stand’s 2019 garden is just short of two acres and had over 150 varieties of flowers and a weekly community-supported agriculture flower subscription service.
A little farther down the road at 12466 Vaughn St., Wendel’s Poultry Farm offers more than just fresh and frozen chickens. Leading up to Halloween, they will have patches of pumpkins ready for picking.
“It was an awful wet spring to get started to get the crops in the ground,” said Marty Wendel, a third-generation co-partner at Wendel’s. “We’re lucky enough that we’re on pretty gravelly ground, so the crops got in on time.”
As of mid-August, Wendel said the pumpkins are progressing well and just starting to turn orange. “We’re right on course having orange pumpkins in the yard by the third weekend in September,” he added.
Down at 12317 Vaughn St., Waterman’s Greenhouse also had a slow start to the year due to the amount of rain earlier in the season.
“We would get a few good days, and then it would rain,” said co-owner Ethan Waterman. “People weren’t purchasing plants as early as they normally would.”
Although it was a longer and slower year for sales, Waterman said it ended up working out because people continued to purchase past the normal slow-down time in July.
“The first part of the season was very rough, but the second part of the season turned out to be pretty good,” he added.
AS THE FALL days approach, Krzemien said the bounty is looking good at The Flower Stand.
“The dahlias are just starting to get going,” she said, noting they have six new varieties, along with several late plantings and varieties of sunflowers. “We’ll have beautiful flowers right up until the first hard freeze of October.”
Back at Waterman’s, standout sales this year included a lot of different colors of flowers, including angelonias.
“It’s gotten a lot more colors, a lot more uses and the quality of the plant is a lot better,” Ethan Waterman said of the angelonias. “It’s for flowering all season long and gives you some height in your containers.”
During the fall, he said they have mums available, a seasonal favorite which normally sells until mid-October, and then the greenhouse will close for the season.
Meanwhile, at Wendel’s, Marty Wendel said they have new people stop by the farm every week, which keeps the business rolling along, whether for chickens, pumpkins or their maple syrup products.
“The trees have had plenty of rain this spring and plenty of sunshine,” he said. “With all that rain we had, I’m sure they grew quite well and healed last year’s holes up. Usually, they can heal in one season now because we’re using a smaller diameter tap. We’re trying to stay ahead of any health problems that the trees might have.”
During 2019, Wendel said maple syrup sales remained strong and is looking forward to 2020.
A big part of fall is the Halloween season, and The Flower Stand is planning to have pumpkins right through Oct. 31.
“I like to grow the decorator pumpkins, the blue and white and flat pumpkins for topiaries, Indian corn and gourds,” Krzemien said. “And, of course, we’ll have all of the usual Rumfola’s Market squashes and fall produce.”
Looking forward to after Halloween, Marty Wendel said their turkeys are growing well, partly because they like the summer heat. “They’ll be right on time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
IN THEIR 25 years on Vaughn Street, Ethan Waterman said customers have returned to Waterman’s season after season. He said it feels like a family of customers and they can often remember who bought what plants the year before.
“We talk about it, see how it went and try to improve their planning,” he said. “It’s always nice being in a small community.”
Waterman said they also draw customers from the greater Erie County and neighboring areas, but having the experience with longtime customers and talking with them is always fun.
Krzemien said everyone has been extremely supportive of The Flower Stand’s u-pick flower field during the past few seasons and she is thankful for that. She said they have all sorts of local folks and businesses recycling their gallon containers for the flowers.
“The help has been much appreciated as the u-pick field has seen quite a bit of action the past two months,” Krzemien added.
Wendel’s Poultry Farm has been going strong since 1945, celebrating their 75th year in 2020.
“It’s cool to watch the families grow,” Marty Wendel said. “It’s a progressional thing. We just try to do the best we can and provide a service to the community, and they keep coming back.”