Great Lakes Kraut, the Wisconsin-based company that nearly shuttered its New York plant near Shortsville three years ago, is thriving — due in part to a shift in attitude locally — said a company executive who once worked at the sauerkraut factory in Ontario County.

Steve Frega, Great Lakes director of logistic and supply chain, said Friday from Wisconsin that the plant in Ontario County uses all local cabbage in making sauerkraut, with about 75 percent of it purchased from area farmers and the remaining 25 percent grown locally by the company on rented land. In addition, farmers are taking excess cabbage from plant operations to spread on fields and feed their animals.

Frega — who grew up in Fairport and worked at the plant near Shortsville, which is in the town of Manchester, up until three years ago — said the developments are positive. The plant in New York still costs the company in high taxes and other burdens due to state regulations, he said, but it survived the rough period and is doing well.

“We are invested (in the New York plant) and are looking to keep that plant there and keep jobs there as long as we can,” said Frega.

This past week, residents in the area of County Road 19 and Freshour Road reported strong odor from cabbage spread on fields and wondered whether it posed any environmental threat.

Edith Davey, Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation District educator, said since cabbage is an organic, plant-based material it is not a threat. Unlike manure, for example, which is governed by state law because it can be a health or safety hazard if not properly handled, cabbage on fields is no different than leaves or other plant materials.

As for its stench, Davey said that can be potent; as a courtesy, she said, farmers generally try to plow it under to reduce odor.

“It does smell like rotten cabbage, and that is not a source of joy,” said Davey.

Matt Schaertl, a Manchester resident who serves on the Manchester Town Board, said he is glad Great Lakes Kraut is doing well. The cooperative relationship between local farmers and the company is a positive development for the economy of the region, he said. He said the recycling of the cabbage waste for fields and animal feeding is another plus, as it's good for the environment.

“It is a green way of doing things,” Schaertl said.