Market Manager Tony Candello welcomed us to the Public Market   This market is operated partially with a Business Improvement District (BID) tax.  Vendors pay a $25 fee and then weekly space fees as well.  The BID tax helps improve area storefronts and other aspects of the district.  Vendors must make/grow what they sell.  If a complaint is made, the market management goes to visit the farmer/vendor to see their operation. 

Kent Schwab worked the market with his two children.  The sold a wide variety of produce homegrown on their farm.  Along with many of the growers in this area, he uses red plastic to grow his tomatoes upon.  The red plastic helps warm the soil and develop and earlier crop.  The family sells at farmers’ markets five days a week – Tuesday through Saturday.  We visited with his sister earlier in the day at the Downton Buffalo Farmers Market.  They also offered homemade pies, pastries and fancy breads from their home farm.  Items were baked by his niece. 

Charlene, co-owner of Harper Hill Farm, explained how they render the lard from hogs on their farm to make the soap she sold at the market.  This, along with the milk from a herd of 20 goats at the farm supply the raw ingredients.  An experienced marketer, Charlene had marketing materials and pictures of her home farm displayed for customers.  She even marketed other agritourism operations near her home farm.  Additionally, she sold local honey and other items from neighboring farms.

 Two wineries offered their wines and tastings during the market.  New York state law allows wineries and farm wineries producing wines with a NY label to sell their wine at the state fair,  county fairs AND farmers markets operating as not for profit.  The wineries participate in many farmers markets in the area to promote the wine tours in the area.

What we learned:

– The sweetcorn prices in the whole area were somewhat depressed already due to an early season of warm spring weather.  There seemed to be an abundant supply of locally grown sweetcorn at many of the markets.

-This was a very relaxed market.  None of the vendors talked about prices much or discussed the offerings of other vendors.

-We were reminded that agriculture is the #1 industry in the Empire State!