Agriculture Awards

We have several Agriculture-related awards in Cattaraugus County.

Conservation Farm of the Year Award

2024 Conservation Farm of the Year: Mekka Jo Farms

Mike Jones was born and raised on his family's dairy farm in Randolph, NY. He was an active FFA member throughout his years at Randolph Central School. Mike began his own farm in 1978 where he raised Holstein heifers, draft horses and other various animals.

Mike is married to Pamela and has three children, Kurt Jones, Karah Mattern and Megan Crosson, and seven grandchildren.

Mike is presently raising Registered Black Angus and owns a team of Clydesdale horese and one riding horse.

Mike enjoys his family, golfing, attending horse shows and working the farm, as well as caring for his animals and property.

He works closely with WNY Crop Management Association for crop rotation advice and soil erosion management.

Mekka Jo farms installed a covered waste storage system with the assistance of Cattaraugus County Soil and Water Conservation District through the Agriculutral Environmental Management Program (AEM) and the Natural Resourse Conservation Services (NRCS) Envrionmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). Many other local engineers, contractors, suppliers, and ag support providers came together to make this project possible.

The Farm also installed a heavy use area, to protect high traffic cattle crossings, roof runoff structures and drainage systems to help direct clean rainwater away from manure processing areas. These practices together will allow the farm to store manure during times when the ground is frozen or saturated. By storing the manure and applying it with the right site conditions the farm will utilize the nutrients more efficiently and protect water quality of Cattaraugus County.

Mike appreciates this honor and will continue to strive to manage his property with conservation of the environment as an important part of his strategy.

2023 Conservation Farm of the Year: Durow Farms

The Cattaraugus County Soil & Water Conservation District has selected Durow Farms for the 2023 Conservation Farm of the Year Award. Durow Farms is a fifth-generation family owned and operated dairy farm located in the Town of Randolph. Mike and Dawn, along with their family, utilize every available acre in a productive and responsible manner. The farm includes the 200-cow dairy and heifer operation, as well as a maple syrup enterprise. Since the early 1990’s when Mike and Dawn took over management of the farm, it has implemented such practices as conservation field strips, reduced tillage, and rotational grazing.

The farm is particularly good with its forage production system of corn for silage and high-quality grass haylage. The high quality, high yielding forages results in high milk production and healthy cows while minimizing off-farm feed purchases. They follow a very tight rotation of corn followed by a seeding of clover/grass with a nurse crop of oats. This practice, along with the field strips, and conservation tillage, helps to minimize the erosion on highly erodible fields.

The nutrient value of manure is utilized to its maximum potential. With the help of funding procured by Cattaraugus County SWCD and NRCS they constructed a short-term waste storage and transfer system in 2019 that allows them to avoid spreading when there is inclement weather. They also installed a buffer and roof runoff structures to prevent runoff to nearby waterways. The farm was one of the founding members of the Western NY Crop Management, which helps the farm implement its nutrient management and integrated pest management plans (NMP and IPM).

The farm uses sound timber management practices to get the most out of their woods in lumber as well as sap for the maple operation.

Not only does the farm take good care of its resources, but it is also a Dairy of Distinction and has hosted Randolph FFA tours of the farm for elementary students.

2022 Conservation Farm of the Year: N/A


2020/2021 Conservation Farm of the Year: Colonial Hill Farms

The Cattaraugus County Soil & Water Conservation District has selected Colonial Hill Farm for the 2021 Conservation Farm if the Year Award. Jim & Jenny Dye and their family operate a heifer replacement farm in the Town of Dayton. The Dye family has been actively participating in NY State’s Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program and has worked in close cooperation with various partner agencies and organizations, including the Conservation District, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service & Farm Service Agency and Western NY Crop Management Association to implement many conservation practices to address agricultural runoff, agricultural nutrient management and erosion & sediment control. In addition to conservation practices, the farm also implemented a number of additional projects to improve operational efficiency of the farm. Practices and projects implemented through cooperation with the District and partnering agencies include:

• Construction of a concrete manure storage structure, which allows for application of nutrients at optimum times of the year for improved crop production and reduced runoff potential.

• Construction of a bunk silo leachate collection & treatment system to control concentrated runoff from their feed storage area.

• Participates in cover prop program (150 acres) to reduce soil loss due to sheet and rill erosion and improves soil structure and stability.

2019 Conservation Farm of the Year: Woloszyn Farm

 The Cattaraugus County Soil & Water Conservation District has selected Woloszyn Farms, LLC for the 2019 Conservation Farm of the Year Award. Stephen & Diane Woloszyn and their family operate a dairy farm in the Town of Yorkshire. The Woloszyn family has been actively participating in NY State’s Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program, and has worked in close cooperation with various partner agencies and organizations, including the Conservation District, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service & Farm Service Agency, and Western NY Crop Management Association to implement many conservation practices to address agricultural runoff, agricultural nutrient management, and erosion & sediment control. In addition to conservation practices, the farm also implemented a number of additional projects to improve operational efficiency of the farm. Practices and projects implemented through cooperation with the District and partnering agencies include:

- Construction of a concrete manure storage structure, which allows for application of nutrients at optimum times of the year for improved crop production and reduced runoff potential.

- Construction of a bunk silo leachate collection & treatment system to control concentrated runoff from their feed storage area.

- Construction & restoration of several diversion ditches and associated runoff control structures to reduce erosion and divert stormwater runoff away from farmstead.

- Installation of several thousand feet of drainage tile to improve crop yields and manage surface runoff from cropland.

- Installation of over 2000 feet of fencing to better utilize grazing lands.

- Installation of automated alley scrapers to keep the barn floor clean and move manure toward collection system and ultimately to the manure storage structure.

- Installation of several cooling fans in the freestall barn to improve air flow and maintain optimum cattle health & comfort.

- Installation of computerized bulk tank temperature recorder to maintain optimum milk temperatures.

In addition to the projects above, a major improvement that was undertaken by the farm on its own was to install robotic milking units to reduce labor requirements, improve production efficiency, and to better monitor and maintain herd health. Additional projects are planned on the farm to continue to build upon these accomplishments.

2018 Conservation Farm of the Year: Bliss Dairy Company

The Cattaraugus County Soil & Water Conservation District has selected Dustin Bliss of Bliss Dairy Company, LLC for the 2018 Conservation Farm of the Year Award. Mr. Bliss operates a dairy farm in the Town of Freedom. He has actively participated in NY State’s Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program, and has worked in close cooperation with various partner agencies and organizations, including the Conservation District, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service & Farm Service Agency, and Western NY Crop Management Association to implement many conservation practices on his farm. These projects help to address agricultural runoff, agricultural nutrient management, erosion & sediment control, and grazing management. He is carrying on the conservation efforts of the previous farm operators, Carl Jr. & Barb George, who were also selected for this award many years ago. Practices and projects implemented to date include:- Expansion & upgrade to an existing manure storage structure for the main dairy facility, which allows for application of nutrients at optimum times of the year for improved crop production and reduced runoff potential. 350 ft. rock lined outlet to reduce erosion from concentrated runoff.- Construction of improved waste handling facility for the heifer barn to provide for better storage of manure, improve drainage, and reduce runoff from the site.- Over 4000 feet of diversion ditch with a 350 ft. rock lined outlet to reduce erosion from concentrated runoff.- Approximately 100 acres of cover crop planted to reduce cropland erosion and improve soil health.- Implementation of over 82 acres of rotational grazing and associated practices including 8 livestock watering facilities, over 18,000 feet of fence, and nearly 2000 feet of stabilized livestock laneways including a stream crossing to improve quality of grazing forages while also reducing runoff & erosion from pastures. Dustin is planning some additional conservation projects over the next few years, including more cover crops, additional components to the manure system, and some additional grazing management practices.

2017 Conservation Farm of the Year: Blesy Farms

Blesy Farms, LLC has been selected by the Cattaraugus County Soil & Water Conservation District as the 2017 Conservation Farm of the Year.  This award is presented by the Conservation District to a farm which has demonstrated a sincere commitment to the conservation and protection of our soil, water, and related natural resources.

Blesy Farms is a family owned dairy operation including Harold, Nathan, Brandon Blesy & their families.  The farm has worked closely and cooperatively over the years with the Cattaraugus Co.  SWCD, as well as with partner organizations such as the WNY Crop Management Association to plan and implement several conservation projects on their farm.  These projects include manure storage structures (most recently in 2016), nutrient management, silage leachate management, and cover crops to prevent erosion and improve soil health.  On-going participation in the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program helps the farm keep up to date in addressing current environmental needs on their operation.

2016 Conservation Farm of the Year: R&D Adams Dairy Farm


2015 Conservation Farm of the Year: Triple R Farms


2014 Conservation Farm of the Year: Tim Ploetz Farm


2013 Conservation Farm of the Year: Pimm’s View Dairy in Conewango Valley

Watch a video from the 2013 Farmer-Neighbor Dinner

2012 Conservation Farm of the Year: Nichols Dairy Farm

The family operated, medium sized Nichols Dairy Farm located in the Town of Freedom owned and operated by Doug and Betty Nichols and family. This award was presented to them because of their commitment to protecting and improving the soil, water and related natural resources on their farm. Read more about the 2012 Farmer-Neighbor Dinner.

Farm of the Year Award

2024 Farm of the Year: Valley View Farms

Nathan and Chelsey Nelson along with their children, Paisley, Tucker and Everett, own and operate Valley View Farms, located in Machias, NY. Valley View Farms was founded in 2013. The farm is situated on 160 acres that was originally farmed by Nathans grandfather, Cecil Perkins. Cecil operated a dairy farm on the property from 1957 until 1984. In 1988 Nathans parents purchased the farm. The dairy was no longer operational; however, Dave and Sue had a few beef cattle and pigs. In 1990 they started a family and raised their 2 sons, Nathan and Nicholas, there. Growing up helping his dad take care of his cows and pigs, Nathan developed a passion for farm life. In 1999 the old dairy barn collapsed due to heavy snow, and only fields were left. The interest in farming only grew stronger as Nathan grew older. In 2002, Nathan started his first job working on a local dairy in town. He worked there through his school years until he started college.

In 2009 Nathan began his college career at Alfred State College as a Heavy Equipment Truck and Diesel Technician major. Chelsey was also attending Alfred State as an Agricultural Technology student. After graduating, Chelsey made the move from her families 40 cow dairy in northeastern PA to Nathans home farm. Their goal was to bring the farm back to life. When their daughter Paisley was born in 2012, they made the decision for Chelsey to stay home and raise her while Nathan worked full time at Java Farm Supply Inc. They purchased their first 3 beef cows from a neighbor. Those cows quickly grew into the 60 head they have today. With the growth of the beef herd, they built a barn to house their cows. After the birth of their sons Tucker (2016) and Everett (2018) they purchased the farm from Dave and Sue.

Having 3 small children and cattle prices being uncertain due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Nathan and Chelsey decided to diversify their operation to include direct to consumer beef, pork, and chicken sales, along with produce, pumpkins and hay sales. Their passion for providing their customers with a sustainable product has become the main focus of their business. In commitment to providing a safe meat supply, the Nelsons have become Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified producers, Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) certified producers, New York State Cattle Health Assurance program (NYSCHAP) certified producers, and recipients of the NY Beef Farm of Excellence award. Their beef and pork is NY Grown and Certified. They are members of the New York State Beef Producers Assoc. where Chelsey serves as a chairperson for Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, Cattaraugus County Farm Bureau members, and active with 4-H at the Cattaraugus County Fair.

Its been said “you can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus and the support.” Valley View Farms would not be the success it is without the help and support of our families, customers and landowners, and for that we “THANK YOU!”

2023 Farm of the Year: Burdick Blueberries

Burdick Blueberries is a 70-acre blueberry and flower farm in the Enchanted Mountains of Cattaraugus County, 9 miles from Ellicottville, New York. The farm has 40-acres of pick-your-own blueberries. Milton Burdick established the farm in 1952 and started selling blueberries at a road-side market in 1958. When it became difficult to hire berry pickers in 1961, he decided to open the farm as a pick-your-own. Burdick’s is still family-owned and operated by granddaughter, Amy Edwards.

The farm produces ten varieties of highbush blueberries and 60 varieties of cut flowers. Customers are guided through the pick-your-own experience while enjoying the peace and beauty of the farm’s hillside views, catching a ride on a vintage open farm truck to and from the field. They can walk the finish-mown aisles and lawns, wander the flower garden, and shop at the Retail Shed.

Amy Edwards inherited Burdick Blueberries in 2015. Leaving behind a 30+ year career she returned to the farm, her childhood roots and favorite place on earth. She made a life changing U-turn, committed to keeping the farm in the family. In the last eight years Amy has explored the path for herself and the farm, managing the complexities of tradition and renovation, finding solutions to current challenges in blueberry production, and expanding the family’s quality brand of agri-tourism. She further developed marketing for the farm with social media and her website

In 2019 Amy started hosting The Guest House at Burdick Blueberries Farm, a year-round rental through AIRBNB and VRBO. The farm also hosts events including outdoor weddings and parties.

2022 Farm of the Year: Rublee & Martin Families

For D-J Farm, Farm of the Year

· After renting a small farm with Dick Young in South Dayton, NY for one year, Dana Rublee brought 30 head of cattle with him and purchased the farm on Dublin Rd in 1976.  Included was 205 acres, 70 of which was crop land. 

· In 1977 he married Julie marking the beginning of D-J Farm.  Between 1978 and 1987 they had 4 children: Robin, Melissa, Rick and Kimberly. 

·They started buying small farms nearby 20-30 acres at a time. 

· In 1980, they expanded with a silo and an addition was put on the main barn, allowing room for 54 milk cows and young stock.

· On a Spring day in 1997 Julie told Dana when he went in the house for lunch that, “Our prayers may have been answered.  Brenden Martin called and wants to see if we can sit down to talk about him coming to work here.” 

· After many conversations and meetings, on September 1, 1997 Brenden Martin joined the farm along with his wife Kerri, son, Logan, Daughter Jenna and shortly after, their 3rd child, Kellen.

· Dana spent 10 years selling Doebler seed corn.

· Dana and Julie are members of Cattaraugus County Holstein Club and WNY Crop Association.

· In the beginning, the farm shipped their milk to Carnation in South Dayton, NY.  Later to Friendship Dairies, and are currently members of Steamburg Milk Co-Op.

· Brenden and Kerri are long-time members of the Cattaraugus County Holstein Club, Brenden serving in various roles such as Director, Vice President and President; members of the New York State Holstein Association; National Holstein Association; and Cattaraugus County Farm Bureau.

· Kerri has served as the 4-H Dairy Superintendent at the Cattaraugus County Fair for over 20 years.

· D-J Farm has hosted countless youth and adult programs including youth dairy judging contests and barn meetings, Junior Dairy Leader farm tours and meetings, adult farm tours. 

· In 2008, D-J Farm was recognized with the Dairy of Distinction award.  This award recognizes the hard work and dedication of dairy owners/operators who have attractive, well-kept farms to help promote a positive dairy image. 

· By using the best genetics available over the years, in the early 2000’s the farm developed one of the most sought out cow families in the Holstein breed due to their extreme butterfat production.  This resulted in the sale of numerous bulls to A.I. organizations and area farmers as well as many embryos marketed both domestically and internationally.   

· Both the Rublee and Martin families have been active at the Cattaraugus County Fair which has continued through to the next generations.  The children and grandchildren serving as active members in 4-H, Dairy Princess Programs and FFA.

· Today, D-J Farm crops 350 acres and owns 250 head of cattle.

· The Martin Family (Brenden, Kerri, Logan, Paige, Eloise, Jenna and Kellen) own about 40 head of registered Holsteins.  

· Cows are housed in tie-stalls and free-stalls.  They are milked twice per day in an 8-stall step parlor which was added on in 2017.

· They have a rolling herd average of 29,240 pounds of milk, 1,147 pounds of fat, and 897 pounds of protein.   

· The cows are fed a total mixed ration of corn silage, haylage and grain.

· With hard work, dedication, teamwork, and strict attention to detail in all aspects of farm management, D-J Farm has successfully raised their families while doing what they love.  It is an excellent way to live and raise a family.

· D-J Farm, the Rublee and Martin families, would like to thank and give credit to people and organizations who have supported the farm throughout the years.  Everyone’s individual and collective contributions have been instrumental in our business throughout the last half-century.  The dedicated and committed employees, a network of other farmers, neighbors, veterinarians, milk testers, feed mills, fertilizer suppliers, equipment & machinery dealers, WNY Crop Association, semen companies, various contractors and so many more.  All the people that we have done business with over the years, we appreciate you.  

2020/2021 Farm of the Year: Gibbs Apiaries

This year’s Farmer of the Year award goes to Gibbs Apiaries, ranking among the region’s most prominent professional beekeepers. They produce honey and wax and provide pollination service to other growers and the State of California. Local growers also enjoy the pollination from the bees’ 3-4 mile hike each day. John Gibbs caught his first swarm of bees in 1983 and from that time forward he couldn’t leave them alone. John’s farm grew from then on, totaling 4500-5000 hives, operating with 4 employees. In 2019 the honey production was 160,800 lbs. of wax. John was able to do some pollination here in New York and said “the best part is sending 3672 hives to California for almond pollination.”

2019 Farm of the Year: Native Offerings

Owned and Operated by Stew and Deb Ritchie since 2002. 

Stew graduated from Wilford Laurier University in Ontario with a BA in history.  While in university he developed an interest in the connection between diet choices and health.   He became conscious of what he was eating, sparking an interest in food production and, in particular, organic practices.  Stew spent the next few years working on various organic farms to learn about what it took to run a successful agricultural business.  At the time if you wanted to learn about organic farming you had to apprentice on a farm and develop a working knowledge. Deb graduated from SUNY ESF with a degree in Environmental Science.  After university and some time spent in Washington State, Deb worked in the environmental education field.   Her interest in agriculture was sparked in her mother’s garden and grandfather’s dairy farm.  After working in Warren County, NY on a project that was converting an old farm given to the state to an environmental center, Deb interned on an Grindstone farm, an organic vegetable farm. Stew and Deb meet at Grindstone Farm in Pulaski, NY and went on to work and intern on several other organic farms.  In 1997, after getting married, they became managers of Arden farm in East Aurora and started Buffalo Organics CSA.  The grew certified organic vegetables and raised pigs that were sold directly to customers through their CSA or area co-ops. They built up their CSA from 60 members to 250 and started looking for a farm of their own. In 2002, they bought the Clark farm and moved Buffalo Organics’ operations to Otto.  They renamed their business, Native Offerings Farm and transitioned the Clark’s dairy land to vegetable production.  Native Offerings Farm (NOF) was Certified Naturally Grown from 2005-2015.  In 2015, the land used for vegetable production on Native Offerings Farm was certified organic. They produce vegetables for their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), the Elmwood Bidwell farmers market and various other outlets.  The CSA grew to 500 members at its peak and currently is around 350 members for vegetable shares.  Their vegetable shares run from June through October for the main growing season and then continue into the fall and through the winter with storage crops.  Customers can also buy fruit distributed through the farm from area growers. Native Offerings raises rotational grazed beef that are sold direct to customers by the quarter.  While they raised pork for many years, the decision was made to remove pigs from the farm in order to have good agricultural practices and a better food safety plan. In 2018, they started Rural Resurgence LLC as a partner company to NOF for the production of industrial hemp.  Rural Resurgence was an affiliate grower under Plant Science Laboratories but now has obtained their own NYS license for the production of hemp grown for CBD.

They currently have 3-5 seasonal employees.

2008 Conservation Farm of the year award Catt. Co. Soil and Water conservation district

2011 edible communities Local Hero award in the farm category for outstanding contribution to the local foods’ movement

2013 Stew becomes a LEAD-NY fellow- completing The Empire State Food and Agricultural Leadership Institute’s leadership program

2014 Deb becomes a LEAD-NY fellow- completing The Empire State Food and Agricultural Leadership Institute’s leadership program

2002-2012 Stew president of Elmwood Bidwell farmers market board

2017 Stew sits on the Otto Fire commissioners board

Farm bureau members

NOFA-NY members

2018 Farm of the Year: Hill's Valley Farm

Hill’s Valley Farm was founded in 1959 by Roland and Onalee Hill. They sold the farm to their son Richard, and his wife Donna, in 1979. Roland continued to help with field work for many years. Roland’s FFA project was a Brown Swiss heifer, which ultimately led to today’s current herd of Brown Swiss. He passed away in August, 2017 at the age of 85. Richard and Donna have been involved in the farm since 1979. They raised two sons. Derek is a high school math teacher in Hamburg. He and his wife, Michelle, have two young children, Mackenzie and Gavin. Darin and his wife, Katie, have been partners in the farm since 2008. Katie hails from Perryville, Missouri and grew up on a Brown Swiss farm. Darin and Katie have three children; Blake, Garrett and Averi. Darin graduated from Cornell and Katie from the University of Missouri. The farm currently consists of nearly 300 head of mostly purebred Brown Swiss. The herd is one of the highest Brown Swiss production herds in the country with a herd average of over 25,000 milk and 1100 pounds fat. While production is an important part of the operation, Hill’s Valley farm is likely more widely acclaimed for the herd’s type. They have shown their cattle at local, state and national shows and have received many All-American recognitions. The most notable was a homebred cow, Hills Valley Perfecta Ritz, who was intermediate champion at both Harrisburg and the World Dairy Expo in 2011. Ritz has 25 daughters and granddaughters in the herd through the use of embryo transfer and invitro fertilization. The 2017 show season resulted in being Premier Breeder at Harrisburg and 3 All –American nominations. In addition Hill’s Valley bred, raised and sold the reserve Junior Champion at Madison which has been named All-American Fall Calf. The farm owns and rents 350 acres which produces all the roughage for the farm. The ration for the milk cows is corn silage, alfalfa and grass baleage, and purchased concentrate. Field work is shared by all family members, except corn chopping, which is custom harvested. The milking herd of 150 head is housed in a compost bedded pack barn which was built in 2008. The pack is bedded with dry sawdust and is stirred daily with an s-tine cultivator and cleaned twice a year. The herd is milked in an 8 stall step –up, walk through parlor retrofitted in the old tie stall barn. In 2016, Richard and Donna were recognized as the Active Master Breeder by the national Brown Swiss Association. Richard has served as a National director for the Brown Swiss Assocaition as well as Vice President. Richard has judged all 6 of the Brown Swiss National Shows including Madison in 2013. He currently serves on the FSA county committee and the board of directors of Upstate- Niagara Coop. Darin and Katie have been very active in the Cattaraugus County Farm Bureau. Darin currently serves as President and Katie is on the Pro-Ed Committee and is District 1 representative on the State Young Farmer and Ranchers Committee. They were the winners of the 2017 Young Farmers Achievement Award for New York State Farm Bureau.

2017 Farm of the Year: Pumpkinville

Pumpkinville is a 200 acre farm owned by Dan & Diane Pawlowski and their children – son, Jim and wife,  Melissa, daughter Lisa, and son-in-law Greg Spako.  Each family member contributes individual talents and takes on responsibilities instrumental to the success of the farm.  In addition to the family members, over 100 seasonal employees help keep Pumpkinville running smoothly.

Pumpkinville promotes family fun on the farm.  Every year in seven weeks over 80,000 visitors from many different states and countries enjoy coming to Pumpkinville for a unique fall experience.  Pumpkinville grows larger each year as new activities and products are added.

2016 Farm of the Year: Angus Hill Farm


2015 Farm of the Year: Canticle Farm


2014 Farm of the Year: Sprague's Maple Farms

Randy Sprague began sugarin' thirty years ago on a small scale, as a hobby. "I used to visit the Deschler Farm when I was a kid," says Randy, " and I would watch Van Deschler making and finishing maple syrup. I just fell in love with it." In the beginning, Randy would just make enough syrup for the family's use or to give a little away. A couple of years later, he decided to expand into a commercial operation, which meant a major shift with larger equipment. “We had to increase the number of taps we were putting out," he continues, "from a few hundred to now over 20,000. We have purchased several pieces of property, and also rented taps from other owners."

The sugarin' season is short and intense, generally from mid February to the end of March. The harvesting of maple sap is totally weather dependent. Maple sap is a diluted liquid, with only 2% sugar content. You have to boil away 40-45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

Sprague’s Maple Farms is an agritourism business, meaning that it falls both within the agricultural farming industry and also within the tourism industry.

The owners, Toni and Randy Sprague, welcome visitors from all over Western New York and beyond. “Our 265 seat restaurant features many menu items that use the maple products we produce. Our well-stocked country gift center offers a wide selection of seasonal gifts, homemade fudge, chocolates, and our full line of award winning maple products.”

Sprague’s Maple Farms has been and continues to be an area attraction that allows people to see the maple operation from the tree to the table. There is a lot of history in sugaring, which has been passed down through generations. At Sprague’s you are able to see the tradition of the industry, with a real hands-on feel. Marked trails make it possible to learn about the history of maple sugarin’ all year long.

2013 Farm of the Year: Tom & Robin Degenfelder of Pine Villa Farm

Watch a video from the 2013 Farmer-Neighbor Dinner

2012 Farm of the Year: Telaak Dairy Farm

The family operated, medium sized Telaak Dairy Farm, located in the Town of Mansfield run by brothers Don and Dave Telaak and their wives, Lynn and Joyce, along with 10 employees. This award was presented to them because of their commitment to portraying a positive image and promoting the importance of the agricultural industry throughout the County. Read more about the 2012 Farmer-Neighbor Dinner.

Friend of Agriculture Award

2024 Friend of Agriculture: Rhonda Lindquist

Rhonda Lindquist developed an interest in agriculture at a young age through her responsibilities on her family's beef farm and involvement with 4-H. She resides in Chautauqua County with husband, Bob and her Son, Max resides in Berkeley, CA. Rhonda is Passionate about helping others.

Rhonda has been employed by WNY Crop Management Association for over 17 years as a Farmstead Planner. Her responsibilities include evaluating facilities and providing recommendations, developing environmental plans, procurement of grants for farms to implement best management practices, consulting with engineers, interpreting regulatory requirements and working closely with farms to maintain compliance, advocating for farms at state and local levels, and disseminated agricultural information as needed.

Rhonda has volunteered throughout Western New York at "Visit the Farm Day", "Sundaes on the Farm", and other educational events designed to teach public agricultural practices and the importance of agriculture in our communities.

Rhonda has served on the following committees

• NYS CAFO Workgroup

• NY Water Quality Workgroup

• Cattaraugus County Water Quality Council

• Chautauqua County Water Quality Council

• Cattaraugus County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Steering Committee

Rhonda would like everyone to know It has been a privilege to work with so many producers in Cattaraugus County and Western New York. She will always value the relationships she has made with the farms and partnering agencies over the years.

2023 Friend of Agriculture: Pat Walker

Pat Walker moved to New York in 1978 and was Dairy/ Livestock Extension agent for 6 years. She did consulting work for FMHA for 10 years and worked on her husband’s family dairy farm until it was sold. She was an Agriculture teacher/FFA advisor at Pine Valley for 4 years and an Agriculture teacher/FFA advisor at Randolph for 23 1/2 years. Pat had 10 FFA teams win state contests and compete at National FFA convention in Livestock, Milk Quality, Agronomy, Meats Evaluation, and Poultry and Creed Speaking contest. She also had FFA teams place second at State FFA convention and compete at the Big E in Springfield, MA, in national regional FFA contests in Milk Quality, Agronomy, Poultry, Environmental Science and Natural Resources and had second place teams in Nursery/ Landscape and Meats that weren’t able to compete at the Big E. She had third place teams compete at Harrisburg regional contest in livestock and dairy evaluation. Pat had FFA students win State Star FFA Farmer and has had past students serve on the NYS FFA Officer Team. She, along with other Cattaraugus County FFA Advisors and 4-H have conducted various judging contests at the county fair each summer and the All Around Farmer Contest. She served as the NY Association of Agricultural Educators treasurer as well as being on the Cornell Cooperative Extension board and on the Agriculture committee and a Farm Bureau member. Pat was NY Ag Educator of the year Golden Owl finalist for 2 years. Every year she had the FFA students conduct Food For America with the 4th graders. This program teaches the younger students about where their food comes from and takes them on a tour of a local dairy farm. She started the Randolph youth trap team at Randolph in 2008 and coached until she retired. She is now active in St Patrick’s Altar and Rosary, and volunteers for trap and is a substitute bus driver for Randolph Central School. Pat is married to Mike Walker and they have 3 married children and 4 grandchildren.

2022 Friend of Agriculture: Brian & Jean Davis

Brian & Jean Davis have resided in Great Valley, NY for over 30 years.  They were married in 1989 and have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.  Together they enjoy the outdoors, including gardening, camping, and riding ATV’s & snowmobiles.  They also enjoy travelling around the country. Jean Davis is a lifelong resident of Cattaraugus County from Great Valley.  She worked for USDA Farm Service Agency for over 30 years, serving as Executive Director since 2002, and retired in 2015.  After retirement, she worked as a Development Specialist for the Cattaraugus County Dept. of Economic Development, Planning, & Tourism, where she was involved in promoting and supporting the ag industry in the county. Brian Davis is originally from the Cobleskill NY area, but has resided in Cattaraugus County since beginning his career here in 1985 with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  In 1990 he left NRCS to become the District Field Manager for the Cattaraugus County Soil & Water Conservation District, where he spent 30 years until his retirement in 2020.  Although he wasn’t born & raised on a farm, he spent a good share of his youth & teenage years on and around farms in his neighborhood, and these experiences helped fuel his lifelong interest in agriculture and admiration for farmers and the values they provide to their communities. Throughout their careers, Brian & Jean have administered numerous programs & services and secured millions of dollars in funding through their agencies to provide technical and financial assistance to farms to help them implement a wide variety of agricultural conservation and economic enhancement projects.  They often partnered with each other as well as many other agricultural agencies and organizations to collaborate on various initiatives to support and enhance the agricultural industry in the county.

2020/2021 Friend of Agriculture: John Busekist

 John Busekist has been active in agriculture ever since he was a kid. He grew up on a dairy farm and was a member of 4-H. He was a teacher of agriculture and FFA Advisor at Cattaraugus and then Cattaraugus-Little Valley for 33 years (1978-2011) and at Springville Griffith Institute for 6 years (2013-2019), a class advisor several times, he coached several high school sports, and has been a track and cross-county official for nearly 20 years. He is also active in his church, serving as board president and teaches Sunday school. He served on the Cattaraugus County Fair Board during the 1980’s and early 90’s, and was a 4-H club leader. Johns 3 daughters and many nieces and nephews were members of 4-H and FFA. John had several students that became state FFA officers and several national judging teams, and is an honorary FFA American degree recipient. He served as treasurer of the NY Association of Agricultural Educators for over 20 years, as well as President for two, and won the Lifetime Achievement award for NY Association of Agricultural Educators. John served on the National Strategic Planning committee from 2002-2010. Also, he served as a trustee on the NYSFFA Governing Board and on the NYS Leadership Training Foundation. He has coordinated the WNY bus trip to National FFA Convention for many years including agricultural and educational stops along the route to Indianapolis or Louisville. In his retirement he has continued to substitute teach at C-LV and mentors the new teachers at both SGI and C-LV now that the program has been reestablished there. He enjoys spending time with his wife and daughters and their families and watching his 3 grandchildren grow up, play sports and participate in 4-H.

2019 Friend of Agriculture: Chuck & Phyllis Couture

Chuck and Phyllis Couture have been active in various agricultural circles since they moved to Cattaraugus County in 1968. Chuck was an agriculture teacher at Springville Griffith Institute, retiring in 1995. While teaching there he was also FFA advisor, and had numerous Empire and American Farmers, and he was awarded the Honorary American Farmer Degree. Both Phyllis and Chuck were 4-H leaders, served on the Cattaraugus County 4-H Program Committee and the Cattaraugus County Cooperative Extension Board of Directors. Their 3 children were all 10 year members of 4-H. Phyllis taught Home Economics and Horticulture at Springville GI for several years, before opening Fox Valley Flowers in Ellicottville. Later they opened a second location in Salamanca. Fox Valley Greenhouse began as a “retirement project” in 1971 after Chuck took several horticulture classes to complete his permanent certification. This became a family project, encouraging a work ethic in the children and providing funds for recreation and vacations. All of the 8 grandchildren have spent part of their summers helping with the greenhouse and farm markets. Today, the greenhouse is the one remaining enterprise – so it is indeed a “retirement project”. Farm Bureau has also been an important organization for the Coutures. Phyllis began the journey as a County Board member and County President. She has also served on the State Farm Bureau Board as District 1 director, and is currently completing a 6 year term as State Chair of the Promotion and Education Committee and State Board member. She was elected to the inaugural committee of the American Farm Bureau Federation Promotion and Education Committee and served for 3 years. Chuck currently is on the County Farm Bureau Board, and has served as Vice President and President. Coutures are currently on the Membership Committee. Chuck is Chair of the County Planning Board, is on the Farmland Protection Board, Southern Tier West Regional Planning Board, and Seneca Trail RC&D. He served a term on the Cattaraugus County Legislature. They are active members of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, West Valley, and the West Valley Chamber of Commerce.

2018 Friend of Agriculture: Jack Searles

Jack Searles has been an advocate for agriculture in Cattaraugus County since he began his term in 2003 as the Cattaraugus County Administrator.

Mr. Searles was proactive in the efforts to keep Cornell Cooperative Extension in Cattaraugus County; and has been an avid supporter of the 4-H program for many years.  He is a strong supporter of the Cattaraugus County Soil & Water Conservation District Program.  He participated in the Cattaraugus County Bicentennial Wagon Train and Stagecoach Run where he was part of the Finance and History Committees. 

In his spare time, Mr. Searles is an avid stamp collector, enjoys dabbling in beer production and has a green thumb when it comes to growing dahlias.

2017 Friend of Agriculture: Lloyd "Ev" Lamb

Lloyd supports many different types of agriculture events and activities such as the Future Farmers of America (FFA), 4-H, the Cattaraugus, Erie, Allegany and, Wyoming County Fairs, and The Cattaraugus County Farmer-Neighbor Dinner. In his earlier years, he received the National FFA Award.

2016 Friend of Agriculture: Jim Ellis


2015 Friend of Agriculture: Joan Petzen


2014 Friend of Agriculture: Charlesworth Family


2013 Friend of Agriculture: Rick Miller

Rick has taken many agriculture photos and has shared many stories about agriculture in Cattaraugus County in the Olean Times Herald and other publications. Watch a video from the 2013 Farmer-Neighbor Dinner

2012 Friend of Agriculture: Lisa Kempisty

Lisa Kempisty, a 28 year Community Educator for Dairy/Livestock for Cornell Cooperative Extension. Ms. Kempisty teaches dairy and livestock producers, family members and farm employees production management information, works with the 4-H youth and facilitates the Dairy Youth Explorers Program. Read more about the 2012 Farmer-Neighbor Dinner.

Dairy of Distinction Awards in Cattaraugus County

View Dairy of Distinction awards from Cattaraugus County on

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