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Price increases affect local growers, sellers

As farmers' market season comes into full swing, patrons may notice indulging in fresh, local produce and goods leave them with lighter pockets than in recent years.

Wayne Hess, who owns Farmer Hess farm is Onondaga, peddles organic vegetables, spices and eggs at the Regional and Camillus Farmer's markets. He has been a vendor for three years, and said this year he had to raise all of his prices 50 cents or a dollar to cover his own costs.

I'm not making more money, Hess pointed out.

The prices of plastic pots in which he grows and sells plants, fuel to heat the greenhouse, chicken coop and tractors have all gone up.

Customers have noticed the increase, Hess says, but most of them understand. One way he keeps prices low is by reusing egg cartons - empty cartons are returned by repeat customers to be refilled and resold.

In Lakeland, customers will be paying more for locally produced wine.

Andy Watkins, who owns Lakeland Winery on State Fair Boulevard, said he had been holding out for months but finally raised prices 10 percent on Monday.

Watkins said the juice he uses to make wine is shipped in from other countries, and juice manufacturers are now subject to a five percent energy surcharge to cover the transportation costs.

And they pass those costs along to me, he said.

Watkins waited for eight to 12 months for prices to come down, but has had to accept they will probably never decrease.

Cedarvale Maple Syrup owner Karl Wiles has not seen the costs of plastic bottles rise yet, but he anticipates an increase in those costs and transportation costs.

Wiles has been producing syrup for 32 seasons. He started out in 1978, during another energy crisis, he said, which meant he never used oil for fuel to produce his syrup, burning wood and using electricity instead.

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