Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Middle of Nowhere

When moving from the BosWash corridor to Rochester, I was often questioned about the reasons for wanting to live "in the middle of nowhere."  To start, the Rochester Metropolitan Statistical Area has almost 1.1 million people and is sandwiched between a metro area with over 1.1 million people (Buffalo) and another with close to 700,000 people (Syracuse)...hardly the remote region that might be envisioned.  But even if we go ahead and accept this label, it's worth examining what people living "nowhere" do.  Interestingly, many of them help provide this stuff that we sometimes like to's called food.  Agriculture in the Rochester region is no joke:

  • Wayne County, NY, just east of Rochester, is home to 18,000 acres of apples, the most of any county outside Washington State.  New York State is the second highest producer of apples in the country.
  • Genesee County, NY, just west of Rochester, has been repeatedly named as one of the top five fastest growing food processing regions in the U.S.
  • According to this article, Genesee County has the nation's highest percentage of farmland and is home to three of the top 100 vegetable farms in the country.
  • New York State is the third highest producer of grapes in the nation.  Nine out of the ten leading grape counties in New York are located west of Syracuse.
  • New York State is the second highest producer of maple syrup with many Rochester area producers contributing to this output.
  • Concentrated between Lake Ontario and the northern Finger Lakes, New York State's cabbage acreage and production is in the top 3 in the country.
  • New York State is the leading producer of yogurt in the country.  Genesee County is home to two producers and Livingston County (just south of Rochester) is home to a dairy processing plant.
  • New York State is a top 10 producer of tart cherries, pears, strawberries, fresh sweet corn, onions, fresh snap beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, and cauliflower.


  1. This bodes well for the Farm to Table trend that is sweeping the nation. In addition the Rochester region has a lot of CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) with the ability to buy shares of fresh produce weekly. We also have wonderful public markets that in addition to providing great, inexpensive fresh produce make a for a really fun family outing.

  2. So your answer to "middle of no where" is an emphasis on that there's lots of farmland?

    1. Actually the initial answer was that the strip of three metro areas includes almost 2.9 million people (i.e. more than 15 states.) Yet despite that population, the region also manages to produce a large chunk of the nation's food.