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From rich soil, long family traditions

The Gardenville section of West Seneca is rich in both history and soil, which accounts for the number of nurseries there, as well as its name.

Located in the northern end of the town, Gardenville includes part of Union Road as well as residential areas and farmland. Prominent sites include Fourteen Holy Helpers Cemetery and the church and school of the same name and the old water mill. Also, artist Charles E. Burchfield lived and painted in the area that is now the Burchfield Nature & Art Center.

>What makes it unique:

The number of family-owned nurseries in the area, some going back three or four generations.

>Places to go:

The Burchfield Nature & Art Center. The Gardenview Restaurant. Mandy's Cafe. Several nurseries. Fourteen Holy Helpers Church.

>A person you should know:

Bill Weber, whose family has lived and farmed in Gardenville since 1855, is the owner of Bill Weber's Greenhouse & Farm Market at 290 French Road. Weber lives near the nursery with his family in the same house that his great-grandfather built. He, too, went into the family business to keep the farming tradition alive. Weber is also a member of Union Fire Company 37.

*Q: Why stay in the family business?

A: "It's in your blood," Weber says. "One of the reasons we did this is because I wanted my kids to have the childhood that I had. Each of them has helped and worked at the farm, selling the produce and helping transplant in the greenhouse. It means a lot."

*Q: What are the advantages of that lifestyle?

A: "The freedom. Even now if I have worries and concerns which every parent does, you take a ride in the field. That's my Valium. You go back there and think things out and work things out while you're working, and you feel good at the end of the day, and you accomplish something. Maybe it's just the freedom."

*Q: You've lived here your whole life. What changes have you seen?

A: "It's harder now. A huge change is the cost of produce. My grandfather was a wealthy man not because he had a lot of money, but because his dollar went a lot further. Today the farmers don't get what they need to get. A lot of the farms are gradually going to greenhouse. We're still doing both."

e-mail: hjones@buffnews.com

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