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After devastating floods, local farmer takes Mother Nature into his own hands

By ANNA MEILER

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Ron Wagner was forced to declare bankruptcy after flooding wiped out his crops in 2006. Again facing similar destruction last summer.

"It was a hard winter for us and we couldn't do things we normally do, like equipment maintenance, we didn't have funds to buy new equipment," said Wagner.

So he's taking Mother Nature into his own hands by finding a product he can grow indoors. Normally found in subtropical climates, like Greece and parts of California, Wagner is the first to farm figs commercially in New York.

"If it's hailing outside tearing the rest of the crops apart, at least this crop will survive," he said.

Controlling the climate gives him peace of mind, but the advantage is also in having a niche product. Figs aren't actually the money maker at Wagner Farms, but because the product is unique, it brings customers in to see everything else they have to offer.

"We've acquired quite a few new customers this year with all the publicity we've gotten for selling figs locally this year and I think those customers are here to stay," said Wagner.

Wagner says this squishy fruit is a big hit that's helped them bounce back.

"We're holding our own right now and that's where I like to be. I don't do it cause it makes me rich, I do it because I love it," he said.

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