Elba’s new sign proclaims muck roots

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 July 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Elba put up new welcome signs today that claim the community is the “Onion Capitol of the World.”

ELBA – The village has put up a much-improved welcome sign that celebrates its muck roots as the “Onion Capitol of the World.”

For years Elba had signs that said, “Population: Just Right.” That was a cute slogan, but I also thought it sent a message that the community didn’t want any newcomers.

The new sign shows pride in Elba’s onion heritage and productivity. Another NY onion-growing region, the Black Dirt Region in Orange County, also claims to be the world’s onion capitol.

Elba became an onion powerhouse after a swamp was cleared almost a century ago. I used to be the agriculture reporter for The Daily News in Batavia, and I covered the muck. Most of the best 5,000 acres are in Orleans County, and few onions today are grown in Elba. That crop needs deep soil and the deeper muck is in the towns of Barre and Clarendon.

But most of the packing houses and farmers have Elba addresses. Panek Farms and Triple G Farms are both Albion operations and they grow onions on the muck.

I don’t fault Elba for making such a bold claim. It’s good to see them show pride in their roots.