Monday, June 22, 2015

IN DEPTH: Neighbors rid drugs from Garden Walk area

Camaraderie, teamwork and determination helped transform the once-struggling Cottage District from a neighborhood dotted with blighted properties and drug activity into one of the must-see stops on next month's Garden Walk. Full story by Jeffrey Mayne 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New to You store aids area job growth

John Mack, store manager of New to You Shop at 289 Grant St. says that the thrift store has made a tremendous impact on employment for the youth on the West Side. On the Job Ministries is a division of West Side Ministries and provides programming to employ the youth, and might be contributing to the recently reported job growth in the Buffalo Niagara region. According to data released this month by the state Labor Department, the Buffalo Niagara region added 13,000 jobs during the past year.  By Linsday Frazier

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Firefighter injured in Grant Street blaze

Buffalo firefighters respond to a fire at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday at 67 Grant St. at  Arnold Street, as smoke pours out of a second-story window of the vacant building. One firefighter suffered a head injury and was taken to the hospital, according to the Buffalo Fire Department.  By Matt Schaeffer

Taste of Diversity Fest set for June 27

           The West Side will once again be celebrating an eclectic mix of cultures and food during its annual Taste of Diversity festival on June 27.
Different cuisine offerings, dance, music and entertainment from Buffalo’s newest immigrants will part of the  13th annual festival.  Festivities kick off at 11 a.m. on Grant Street between Lafayette and Auburn avenues.
Co-chair Jen Silverman  says that what simply started in 2003 as individuals “cooking out of their kitchens”,  has since blossomed into a full celebration of diversity.
            “It’s a celebration first and foremost.  We’re excited to have such a diverse community and happy to showcase it,” Silverman said. 
            This year the event includes a dozen food vendors including Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine, Pure Peru and Taste of Puerto Rico.  A main stage will include music, African and Bollywood dance while a second stage will offer yoga, Zumba and tango demonstrations.  
Admission and entertainment is free to the public.
            “The festival brings people out and in.”  Silverman said.  “Showcasing success, it’s useful with future neighborhood branding and identity.”

            A full list of the entertainment, demonstrations and food vendors that will be participating can be found at By Jeffrey Mayne

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Niagara gateway project sparking interest

Yonas Ghirmatzion, owner of the food mart gas station at 211 Niagara St., discusses the Niagara Street gateway construction project, business owner involvement in the process and the excitement it has sparked with customers.  The renovations will include new green infrastructure, sidewalks, traffic signals, ramps, LED street lighting and Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority bus priority.  The $16.3 million project to rehabilitate Niagara Street was announced last August and is slated for completion by 2017. By Jeffrey Mayne

Five Loaves promotes growth on West Side

By Matt Schaefer
Bengal News West Reporter 
     When Matt Kauffman steps out his front door in the morning, he can look down Dewitt Street and see one of his 12 farm lots that are starting to develop around the area. 
     Just a short walk around the corner, he arrives at Delavan and
Five Loaves Farm includes 12 locations
West avenues, the heart of Five Loaves Farm, an urban farming project that is bringing sustainable community agricultural to what were once abandoned lots, less than a ten minute drive from city hall.
     “The main goal is to be a part of the redemptive work that is going on in the West Side neighborhoods,” Kauffman said.
     Kauffman has run Five Loaves Farm since it opened in 2012 and in the past couple years it has undergone major expansion. Kauffman has watched his farm grow from five locations to a total of 12. 
     In April, the farm acquired a third of an acre of land at its Dewitt Street location, continuing to build its acreage of once blighted land, turning it from nothing into places for the community can start to build a sustainable infrastructure.
     A farm in the middle of an urban area can catch some people by surprise.
     “It’s so beautiful.  And productive,” a passing neighbor said.
     “Yes, that’s the goal.” Kauffman added with a laugh.
Community Supported Agriculture   
     Five Loaves Farm is a part of the community supported agriculture movement, a process that promotes families to purchase shares of fresh produce for a one-time, flat fee. The produce is picked up on weekly basis, throughout the summer months, ending in late August.
     “It’s good economically,” Kauffman said.  “It gives you a secure income source and maximizes value on land, growing lots of different things throughout a long season.”
     It allows the farm to grow a lot of high value, high quality crops and sell them directly to its interested and invested customer base, who bought shares from the farm in the winter. 
     Kauffman, who graduated with an Environmental Forest Biology degree from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, said one of the biggest challenges was growing a variety of over 75 different crops for the CSA market. 
     The farm is more than just a typical CSA model.  Five Loaves Farm wants to make sure the community is connected in everything it does.
Giving back to the community
     The farm and community go hand-in-hand, as Kauffman relies on volunteer help to make sure the farm is able to run efficiently. 
     A lot of the volunteer help comes in the form of internships, a yearlong commitment by students in the area.  Volunteers also come from the mayor’s summer youth program, associated with Jericho Road.  Other volunteers come from churches around the West Side  through the Buffalo Urban Mission Partnership.  Five students have made the commitment for the up-coming season.
     The farm also grows for local businesses and schools.  Its first season included growing for Tapestry Charter School, but has since expanded to providing for local pizzerias and The Gourmet Store, a locally run, gourmet eatery in the Olympic Towers.            
Beyond Organic
     “We call what we’re doing here beyond organic,” Kauffman said.  “No spray.  A lot of organic operations, especially the large scale ones can use all kinds of toxins on the food as long as they are organically derived.”
     The farm is focused on producing high quality food in a community that doesn’t have a lot of healthy options that are readily available.  Everything it grows is both organic and free of genetic modifiers.
     Five Loaves also took the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York’s Farmer’s Pledge, which gives the farm the same organic outlines as organic certified companies without having the cost associated with the process of getting certified that most small start-up farms can’t absorb. 
     The farm is the new home for five chickens, which were recently acquired and being raised by Kauffman to produce free-range eggs for customers throughout the season.
     Five Loaves wants to make sure that people are taking away useful information as well as informing people of growing techniques and a way of sustainability.   
     “Our real goal is not to grow more tomatoes, but to grow more tomato growers,” Kauffman said. “We’re trying to turn people into producers instead of just consumers.”
     Five Loaves Farm opens its farmer’s market 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through the end of the growing season. More information on available crops, CSA pick-ups and its mission can be found on its  website.    

Friday, June 12, 2015

Buffalo Pride Parade celebrates 24th year

Arlowe Price provides souvenirs to participants of the 24th annual Buffalo Pride Parade along Elmwood Avenue on June 7.  The event, held by the Pride Center of Western New York, capped off a week of events that included a flag-raising ceremony, the gay 5K run,  big gay sing and Chroma art exhibition. By Lindsay Frazier