Weather in Western New York is becoming steadily nicer. Flowers begin to bloom, lawns get cut and produce from farmers markets are readily bought. The City of Tonawanda cut the ribbon its new Farmers Market Sunday.
The Market is located on a closed-off section of Young Street, next to the State Barge Canal. Along with food, the Farmers Market has hanging pots and herbs and vegetables that can be planted.
Mayor Rick Davis said the Farmers Market is part of a larger effort to revitalize the downtown area. Food Truck Thursdays and car shows are also part of that plan.
Davis said much of Young Street could be torn up if the City Council votes to officially close the street. If the street is closed and torn up, more housing could be built to go along with the current housing for senior citizens.
Jessica Stevens runs a small business selling soap. A veteran of craft shows, Stevens said this was her first experience as a seller at a Farmers Market. She hopes her soap business becomes prosperous, which would allow her to leave her day job.
For many of the farmers, the market is a chance for them to sell their goods directly to customers for cash instead of selling to wholesalers. New York State is supportive of efforts to bring farm fresh food to neighborhoods in need.
"We sell beef, pork, poultry and eggs, " said Joe Fleckenstein, co-owner of Fleckenstein Acres in Ransomville. "Everything's grown and raised on our farm and all our grain is grown on our farm."
Fleckenstein says he and his wife don't use hormones or antibiotics and his chickens are free-range. For many farmers who attend the markets, the question is often, Does this keep you in business?
"Somewhat. This is a supplement," Fleckenstein says. "We sell a lot of it out of our house and local people in our area."
There are also food operations like Nathan Hawes in Angola who mixes the food he sells at farmers markets every day with food he supplies and uses at his restaurant. Hawes says he's at a good nexus of food supply and food demand.
"I have a restaurant as well. It's called Gram's Pierogi House," Hawes says, "but not only is this important to me because I can squeeze in here because everything I do is farm to table. I get the pigs local for the sausage. Fresh brown eggs in the dough. I get to do all the markets and source out the best of the best working with all these farmers. So I can bring in the fresh produce back to my restaurant. It's great."