Open season on Farmers Markets: Browsing the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market, Buffalo

Sweet cherries from Tom Tower Farms at Elmwood-Bidwell
At $5, the first sweet cherries of the year from Tom Tower’s farm were oh so worth it.

We headed down to Bidwell Parkway on Saturday morning, looking to see if there was a reason to go downtown to the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market instead of heading to North Tonawanda’s market on Saturday mornings.

Our visit didn’t really settle the question, as the last week of June is really just the beginning of the season. Another three or four weeks and the array of produce on display will triple. Then we’ll see whether North Tonawanda – which seems to have about 50 percent more sellers – is going to remain our first choice.
Pies, asparagus and beets golden and purple at Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers
One of the things that makes Bidwell different is that the stuff has to be local or you can’t even put it out for sale. If memory serves, North Tonawanda has no such restrictions, meaning that you can buy lemons there, and all manner of boxes come from the Bailey-Clinton wholesale produce market, and not the stallholders’ farms.

Somehow, I don’t think the colorful assortment of beets at Bidwell (right) would be confused with supermarket wares.

Even though we didn’t buy more than the cherries, it was instructive to see so many possibilities. Here’s a few glimpses of what we saw.

Native Offerings‘ farmstand featured an array of radishes, some of which the farm’s community supported agriculture subscribers have already enjoyed, along with cilantro, asparagus, arugula, and other greens.

Red pink and white radishes at Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market Buffalo NY

The sage, thyme and parsley looked verdant, only a shock of rosemary short of a Simon and Garfunkel tune. (If you don’t know who Simon and Garfunkel are, ask your parents. Or maybe your grandparents.)

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The White Cow Dairy stand offered various types of dairy indulgence, including creme fraiche, and he heard people praise the chocolate pudding.

There was beef from Hanova Hills on offer, and all sorts of sausage, chops, roasts, bacon and other bits from Blossom Hill Farm‘s organically raised free-range animals. The Avenue Boys were also represented, concentrating on sausage as usual.

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But most of the stands confined their wares to products gained from savagely abusing plants. Case in point, this spray of beheaded garlic, otherwise known as garlic scapes:

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Tower, below, a fixture at the market forever, likes to wear a leather hat of indeterminate age.

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His little creamer potatoes were awfully cute, but the red raspberries were downright gorgeous.

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But of course, it wouldn’t be a June farmer’s market without strawberries to gaze upon adoringly. Get them while they last, folks.

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6 Comments

Filed under food, fruit, purveyor, vegetables

6 responses to “Open season on Farmers Markets: Browsing the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market, Buffalo

  1. Of course this means I have to put a plug in for one of our local farmer’s markets as well: the South Wedge Farmer’s Market (http://www.swfarmersmarket.org/).

    Come check it out. I can tell by reading your blog that you wouldn’t think twice about driving an hour to go to a new farmer’s market.

  2. Market Consumer

    “The market will be dominated by growers selling produce which they raised on their own nearby farm. All the produce sold will predominantly come directly from a nearby farm and will be fresh. All the crafts sold will be handmade by the vendor. All processed foods sold will by made by the vendor.”

    The rules noted above are typical of the guidelines used to run markets all over the country. Food security issues, sustainability, true regional economic growth and biodiveristy are not at all aided by markets that sell lemons, fireworks and imported cheese. Most statewide market associations (and NYC’s Greenmarket) have opted for the “grow-your-own” policy exhibited at Bidwell. Unfortunately, this part of New York State is late to this movement which happened 15-20 years ago, and most area consumers aren’t in touch with it either.

    Not that they’re perfect over there at Budwell. All of the markets have a lot of work to do to help educate consumers and encourage farmers to “lengthen” their growing season through the many technological advances available. All of these things will help to improve our access to local, healthy food. And they keep farmer’s market from acting as flea markets.

    The role of the modern farmer’s market and how it should/could/can function to revive a neighborhood, a city, or a region is a topic that has been written about many, many times. There are many local organizations connected to these concepts.

  3. jd1220

    “Lengthen” the growing season through technological advances? Sustainably? Without ruining the soil in the long term?

  4. Market Consumer

    yup.

  5. Market Consumer

    http://agebb.missouri.edu/mac/agopp/arc/agopp078.txt

    or

    http://www.theozarkschronicle.com/archives/hgcovejan07r.htm

    not to mention extensive use of cold storage (onions, potatoes, apples ll winter) and value-added products (frozen strawberries, pickled peppers, canned tomatoes)

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