This article was originally posted in GrowWNY in July of 2012 and featured an interview with Joe Kirchmyer, the Marketing Director for Elmwood-Bidwell’s Farmers Market.
Farmers markets hold a special place in the hearts of Western New Yorkers, particularly the Elmwood-Bidwell’s Farmers Market. I went out to visit, photograph and speak with a number of the venders who come year after year, to find out first-hand why this market is so special. I also spoke with Joe Kirchmyer, the Marketing Director for EBFM.
Annie: What makes Bidwell’s market so unique, so successful and why the local-only rule?
Joe: The Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market is now in its 12th year. It is an open-air market that runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, rain or shine, from mid-May through mid-December. It’s located in the heart of the popular and historic Elmwood Village and has won numerous Best Farmers’ Market and Best Produce awards from various publications such as Artvoice and Spree.
The locally-made rule is one of the things that set us apart from many other farmers’ markets. The Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market is a producer-only market, meaning that all our vendors grow or produce what they sell themselves, right here in Western New York. By doing this, our patrons know they are dealing directly with the source, no middlemen and no compromises. This also helps to create a healthy and diverse local economy.
Aside from the local only policy, there are several other things that make us unique. We’re on a grassy location, not a paved parking lot, which is part of the Olmsted Parks system, in the heart of one of Buffalo’s most unique destinations. We’re dog friendly, which is important to the neighborhood. Our vendors have longevity at the market and establish relationships with their customers. Our variety is exceptional. From the freshest produce and cut flowers to meats, cheeses and even homemade dog treats.
We offer local musical entertainment from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, weather permitting. We provide free space to numerous local community groups so they can get their message out to the WNY community. We have several local wineries that participate and offer samples of their products. We have an incredibly successful EBT program, which allows individuals and families receiving public assistance to shop at the market. This year, for every $10 EBT purchase, the individual receives an additional $2 coupon to be used at the market. New this year, we have a local caterer, Martin Cooks, who utilizes only market products to create breakfast and lunch offerings for our patrons. It’s been a big hit!
Annie: Who are the big draws? Which stands do people ask for, look for, regularly visit?
Joe: Who are the big draws? That’s tough to say because every one of our vendors has a following of loyal patrons who return on a regular basis. Even our new newest vendors are doing well, and that would include 21 Brix Winery, Community Beer Works, Susie Cuke’s Pickle Company and Living Light Wheatgrass.
Annie: What are you looking towards doing in the future?
Joe: As for the future, we’re looking at growing our list of vendors, which currently stands at a high of 37, to offer even greater Western New York produce and products.
Thank you very much Mr. Kirchmyer for sharing so much about Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market. I also want to thank Tom Towers, Tony Weiss, Bruce Bozard, Stew Ritchie and Dave Winter and all of their staff who were extremely helpful with answering all of my questions, letting me pop behind their stands to take a peek in their bins, photograph their gorgeous produce and for giving me samples of their delicious fruits and veggies.