By Libby Rosequist
With the looming presence of COVID-19, many local farmers and businesses are struggling to stay afloat. The Erie County Horticultural Society sees the increasing need and demand for fresh, local food and want to make it accessible to anyone interested.
President of ECHS, Tim Burch has been working on the frontlines of this project, reaching out to all the local farmers in Erie and surrounding counties, creating a directory that lists all of the farm’s locations, what it offers and the time frame to purchase certain fruits and vegetables.
“I think the world we are living in right now needs this kind of knowledge more than ever,” Burch said. “We do not know how long this pandemic will last but the best thing for everyone is to be in the best health possible and that starts with the food we eat. The fresh fruits and vegetables you can buy at a local farm will have way more nutritional value than the big box stores and guarantees freshness.”
The directory also includes a listing of all the pick-your-own fruits and vegetables. New to the directory this year is a section for local wineries, mainly located in North East.
“We want to support and encourage everyone to shop local,” Burch said. “By doing this, we can make sure all the hard work, time and devotion farmers do can continue, so we can provide the best product to all of our customers.”
The Erie County Horticultural Society is one of the last few left in Western Pennsylvania and the society is working diligently to expand and hope to soon see more in the future again.
“We stay in regular contact with the farms listed in the directory and we listen to what they need and the biggest thing right now is to get the word out and make sure everyone knows where to find these wonderful places,” Burch said. “In order to stay thriving and keep growing we need the next generation to see it’s more than just a farm, it’s a place where memories and traditions can be made on top of being a healthier alternative to food shipped from around the world.”
ECHS also donates the funds raised to give back to the community.
Every year ECHS hosts an annual meeting of all farmers, providing an equipment show and bringing in agricultural dealers.
ECHS also supports many community gardens and hosts assemblies at schools around the county to provide further education.
“We are also excited to announce the North East Farmer’s Market will begin Thursday, July 2,” Burch said. “Even though there may not be Picnic in the Park, we hope to see people come and enjoy the fresh produce that will be offered.”
If interested in receiving a directory call 814-725-4607, send a letter to PO Box 204, North East, Pa. or pick one up inside of Burch Farms located at 9210 Sidehill Rd., North East, PA 16428.