On a dreary, rainy Saturday morning, most people would rather
sit inside the comfort of their warm home. Despite the weather, the outdoor Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market was still very
much alive this weekend when I visited. At the market, there
were more than two-dozen vendors selling locally grown products to hundreds of
customers who perused the stands for everything from fruits and vegetables to
bread and meat.
The Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market, which is now celebrating its
10th year, is open from 8AM to 1PM every Saturday through October. The market
is strictly a producer-only market, meaning all vendors must grow or raise all
of their products or, in the case of baked goods, use a majority of locally grown
ingredients. “These are the real farmers, the real growers and producers, that are here at the market,” said Susannah Barton, marketing and event
coordinator intern. Shoppers therefore get to speak directly with the growers
themselves, so Barton encourages people to ask vendors questions about how to
cook the food, other items they might grow, or for recipes that are great with a particular food item.
There are many great reasons to buy locally grown foods at places like farmers markets. Local
food is usually fresher, tastes better and can be more nutritious. On Saturday, one shopper
commented to me about how the strawberries available at the market were vastly
superior to the ones found in his supermarket.
The Elmwood-Bidwell Market also boosts the local economy, especially for
farmers in rural areas. “It actually keeps the money here in Western New
York. We might as well get food here and circulate the money,” Barton
said. Because of the economic multiplier effect, money spent at the market will
continue to benefit the region as farmers buy fuel, supplies and equipment to
produce more crops.
For many people, a farmers market can also be an ideal place to
shop because it’s more personal than a visit to a chain grocery store.
“The attraction is for people to have a connection with the source of
their food,” Barton said. “Even with rain, people come to the farmers market. This is where a lot of people start their shopping out here for the
week,” she continued. As I walked around the Elmwood-Bidwell Market, I
noticed that many vendors were on a first name basis with customers, which is a
refreshing change of pace from the everyday supermarket.
The market’s devoted following only continues to grow year after
year. Karl Frizlen, the market’s treasurer, told me the market typically sees
3,000 to 3,500 visitors on an average Saturday. “We have a really
committed crowd,” Barton said, reiterating that many vendors get
to know their customers who show up week after week. Barton also praised the
market’s great location on Bidwell Parkway on the corner of Elmwood Avenue —
perfect for both foot traffic and access for cars driving by.
market will only continue to grow throughout the summer as other crops–like
tomatoes, peppers, greens or corn–come into season. Each week, the market also has
different events for its customers, such as chef demonstrations, live music and
cook book signings. There will also be demonstrations throughout the summer on ways to prepare salsa
and pesto, as well as sessions on soap making, candle making and cheese making.
Additionally, next Saturday, the Buffalo Indie Market, a local artist
market, will set up shop across the street from the market from 9AM to
3PM. For a complete schedule of events, you can head over to the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers
Market’s Web site. See you at the
(Photos taken on Saturday, June 20 by Matt Biddle.)