Wednesday, December 12, 2018

West Side farms wrap up 2018 growing season

Carrie Nader, co-owner of Westside Tilth Farm
By Ashley Ziomek and Kyle Fallon
Buffalo Review – West Reporters
            When Carrie Nader looked out her window in July, her eyes were greeted by rows of tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and more. Today, her urban farm, Westside Tilth,  paints a bleaker scene, beginning to blend in to the cold city buildings that surround, with different shades of gray mixed in with the white snow.
            With the Buffalo winter ahead, it is time for local farms to begin wrapping up their season. This year’s end begins with the wrapping of any remaining produce, final market sales  and plans for next year based off results from the 2018 season.
            “It’s all experimenting,” Nader said.
            With co-owner Alex Wadsworth, Nader is finishing the first year of Westside Tilth as an operational farm in the heart of the West Side.  
“It’s figuring out what we can grow, what works and what didn’t. We’re very tiny, so we have to be super picky about what we continue to grow,” Nader said. “it’s not so much new crops, but new techniques.”
Broccolini for example, was something the farm will not continue next season due to low production rates.
            Located on a quarter acre of land on Normal Avenue, Westside Tilth produces seasonal salad mixes, root vegetables, alliums, microgreens and more. 
According to Smart CitiesConnect, Buffalo was one of the first locations in the country to have a major zoning overhaul, allowing produce grown in backyards to be sold to, and by, locals. Urban farms also are supported by Buffalo’s Green Code, established in 2010.
Just over a mile down the road sits 5 Loaves Farm, another provider of organic produce for the community. It also offers youth internships and educational services.
            Established in 2012, the farm began with three garden lots. Now, it spans 15 lots on West Delavan and West avenues and features a wide variety of produce such as root vegetables and leafy greens and some popular in Asian dishes.
Matt Kauffman, manager, 5 Loaves Farm
             “Overall, it’s been a pretty good year,” said Matt Kauffman, farm manager.  
Working with charter and public schools such as Nardin Academy and Tapestry Charter, the farm offers paid internships in an effort to educate and support high school students.
Sponsored through Say Yes Buffalo, these educational funds also support teens year-round at nearby Massachusetts Avenue Project.
“We can’t help but look to the future,” said Erin Carmin, development director at MAP.
The year featured the construction of a farmhouse to replace one lost to fire. MAP raised $2.4 million towards the new facility.
“We had a lot of support from the community, which led to a lot of support from the state,” Carmin said. “Some farming just had to be put on hold due to construction.”
Organizers hope to move into the new farmhouse this month, right around the time they will start planning for the next growing season, a mere six months away.

Black Monarchy brings the world to W.S.

Phylicia Dove opened the Black Monarchy boutique  last year on West Utica, where her mission, she says,  is to “bring the world to Buffalo.” She listens to advice from the community on how she can incorporate cultures that are not represented in the area. West Side residents even give the boutique items to sell to make sure their culture is shown. The boutique has partnered with many organizations. Dove partners with Let There Be Light International, which gives a profit from the store to Uganda where it will provide families with solar power for two years. By Kaylin Padilla and Roshea Robinson

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Elmwood Market open Saturdays ‘til Dec. 29

Keelan Darling, from the Darling Bee, a Freedom, N.Y., sold her natural chemical free honey-based lotions and lip balms during a recent Saturday at the indoor version of the outside Elmwood Village Market. The market has been moved from its home on  Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway to  St. John’s Grace Episcopal Church at 51 Colonial Circle. Susan A. McCartney, event coordinator of the Elmwood Village Holiday Market, says the indoor market will be open from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturdays until Dec. 29. By Talisha Hernandez and Isaiah Small

PUSH says HEAP is only partially helpful

          PUSH Buffalo, a local sustainable housing non-profit organization, stood outside HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) on its opening day, protesting that the federal energy assistance program is a Band-Aid solution to Buffalo’s real energy problems.
            Geovaira Hernández, climate justice organizer at PUSH, was one of those people out there talking to community members in line about issues, over hot coffee.
“If you think you can’t pay your utility this month, you get it set off, you get a late payment imposed and then you also get a reactivation fee imposed,” Hernández said. “Why? When I wasn’t able to even pay my bill in the first place?”
            In April, the Partnership for the Public Good published a report for the Truth Commission on  Poverty in Western New York called “Poverty in Buffalo: Causes, Impacts, Solution.” The report found that HEAP “alleviates” problems, but only helps a portion of households facing imminent heat turnoff.
The study cited that nationwide, 79 percent of tenants pay their own utilities, giving landlords fewer “incentives to upgrade to energy-efficient heating or cooling systems.” In Buffalo, that problem is even greater, the study says, because 59.3 percent of homes are occupied by renters, compared to a national average of 34.9 percent and local energy costs are “already 30 percent above the national average.”
            Hernández would like to see the city create an office of sustainability and a community advisory board made up of disadvantaged community members, as well as make a city-wide commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy.  By Francesca Bond and Alex Silvia

Bazaar to be part of senior meal program

By Olimpcia Desamour and Michael Gibas
Buffalo Review – West reporters
The sounds of vegetables sizzling, young girls chattering over cups of bubble tea and old men in great debates: The West Side Bazaar has long been a melting pot for different cultures and now thanks to a new program it could see a new influx of people joining its tightknit community.
The Erie County Department of Senior Services was recently awarded a two-, $500,000 grant from the federal government in order to expand its current senior meal program. The current program allows senior citizens to walk into senior centers and receive a free lunch. The new program will partner with local restaurants and will allow seniors to come in any time of day and receive a meal based on the menu of said restaurant.
This is where the West Side Bazaar comes in, home to several up and coming restaurants Erie County approached the organization will be among the first locations to be a part of the new program and has also recently received their own grant that will allow them to expand to a larger location on the West Side.
But Bob Doyle, the operations manager at the West Side Bazaar, knows this program is more than just about the food, especially for seniors in the refugee community here in Buffalo and especially the West Side, which is the second most diverse zip code in the state of New York.
Doyle hopes that the program will allow seniors who may feel excluded from places like senior centers for whatever reason will see this new program as a chance to both be able to get more culturally relevant food and start forming some connections outside of their families.
This fits right in with what the West Side Bazaar is all about, a business incubator that understands the importance of community.
 “Our goal as a business incubator, we really want to develop businesses, but we want to make sure that we are developing entrepreneurs that come from our neighborhood,” Doyle said. “Our neighborhoods are only as strong as the communities that make them up.”
The new program will hopefully be bringing many new faces and customers to the West Side Bazaar, a possibility that excites some of the vendors.
Maria and Alain Rodriguez
Maria and Alain Rodriguez owners of Kiosko Latino, a Mexican and Puerto Rican place in the West Side Bazaar are among them. They believe the program will help them expand their restaurant.
The other surrounding food vendors also seemed interested, but Kap Thang from Thang’s Family Restaurant has some reservations. He said that while he thought the program would be good for the community, he is still unsure if the it will help his business.
Once the bazaar does move Doyle hopes to keep the same feeling of crowdedness that is so common in other countries while creating more seating and places for new vendors.
The program is expected to start in either January or February of next year and will be available to all seniors over the age of 60.