One of the major agricultural products of Franklin County, New York was hops. Hops are primarily used in the brewing of beer. A couple of years of bad hop crops had depressed the area around Malone/Burke shortly before the James Wilder family left. There isn’t any evidence that James Wilder grew hops himself, but he surely would have known about such a staple to the area. The Franklin County (NY) Historian recently published a blog post on hops, read more about it here:
UPDATED February 27 2018: I double checked the link and added my signature block.
Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.