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City of Tonawanda cuts ribbon on new farmers market

Mike Desmond WBFO News

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.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

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."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

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."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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