In the summer, Houghton gleams.
Early in the morning, when the birds are still chattering and the sun hasn’t fully appeared, I drive my parents’ beat-up red Vibe along Route 305 towards Cuba. This is one of my favorite roads to travel, because once I turn off Route 19 (the road that passes through the middle of Houghton), there are no towns, just farmland and the odd house to tend it.
Along the road, cornfields are starting to rise, green shoots full of dew. Oak and maple trees cast patches of shade along the road, and the ditch next to the pavement is full of wildflowers. I’m always amazed at wildflowers. I leave mundane details like their names to my plant-obsessed roommate; I can recognize a rose, and that’s about it. But I don’t need to know the difference between Queen Anne’s Lace and Lily of the Valley to pull over and gather a few for my dorm window.
One of Houghton’s many charms is its rural location. Some of our other student bloggers have mentioned this—Tyger talked about his top ten nature spots and both Gena and Abby talked about running through our wood trails as a way to get introvert time—but there are more advantages to living in the middle of nowhere than recreation. There’s also the food! The farmland around Allegany County is not just a pretty drive at dawn. There are lots of small, family-owned places that sell the delicious produce they grow.
There’s only one problem: since these produce places are small and remote, they are often hidden for people who aren’t familiar with the area. Luckily for me (and for you) as a local-turned-student, I have some extra knowledge in my back pocket that I’m happy to share.
Anna’s List of Produce Places
There are three types of local stores: farmstands, Amish stores, and greenhouses. Some are seasonal, some are full year, and all three sell different kinds of food.
These are roadside stands that sell produce from the farm behind the stand. They operate in the late summer and fall and sell various fruits and vegetables. Here’s a few I like to use:
- Bower’s Stand (on the left Route 19 coming into Fillmore). This farmstand sells the best sweet corn in September and October. They also carry pumpkins around Halloween.
- Caneadea Stand (on the left of Route 19 coming into Caneadea). At this stand, you can buy a variety of vegetables in late summer, and A LOT of gourds in fall.
- Belfast Stand (at the corner where 305 and 19 connect, just past Belfast). This stand is a joint effort between several farmers. They sell everything from Amish pies to strawberries to pea, depending what’s in season.
- Amish Stand on 305 (on the left, ten minutes after you turn onto 305 from Belfast). You can’t see this stand from the road, but it’s there! There’s a sign for it and then a long driveway to a barn. They sell the odd vegetable before September, but their true product is apples, which they import in huge crates and then sell by the bushel. If you bring your own baskets (laundry baskets work just fine), they’ll knock a bit off the price.
- The Angelica’s Famer’s Market – (in the Angelica Circle Park on Saturdays). This is the only true farmer’s market around, and it’s a good one. Angelica is also the nearest non-campus coffeeshop, and a produce-latte combo is always a good study break.
The growing season in Houghton is hard. It’s cold until late May, warm in June, hot in July and August, and then already time for the early frost. To help their fledgling gardens, then, a lot of locals buy baby plants from area greenhouses and transplant them. As a college student, you can’t have a garden in your dorm room, but you can buy potted herbs or some flowers for your windowsill. Most greenhouses run from May–September.
- The majority of greenhouses are along Route 305 towards Cuba. If you drive past Belfast and turn on, you’ll encounter three before hitting the highway, starting with one at the corner of the intersection (which is also one of the farmstands I mentioned above)
- There are a few more on Route 1, which is just past the turnoff for Route 305, also on Route 19.
The real gems of Allegany County are these whole-sale stores, which sell all your basic cooking goods (and a stunning array of Amish clothing) for unbeatable prices. Flour comes in huge bags for $4, spices are found in small plastic buckets for half of the grocer value, and one can even buy cheese and butter if they have a cooler to bring it home. One warning: these stores are year-round, but they are bring-your-own-bag only.
- There are two Amish stores near Houghton. They can be found at 7973 NY-305, Belfast NY or On Route 23 near Centerville and Hume. Make sure and ask a local before you try to find either or these stores, as neither of them are marked. They just look like little white houses with an odd number of cars parked in front.
Unfortunately, not all produce places in Allegany County are open year round. But even if their season is short, farmstands and green houses are worth a trip early or late in the school year. And the Amish stores are always a great place to spend a Saturday, especially if you run out of baking soda.
Anna is a writing major and a member of the Class of 2019.