Orchard Park immigrant farmer bounty shared at Monday markets
On 37 acres in Orchard Park, 200 refugee and immigrant families who were born and raised subsistence farmers have been able to return to the soil.
The Somali Bantu Community Organization founded the farm in 2017. Since then, seven immigrant communities and Black Buffalo-born families have joined the Somali Bantus.
With Burmese, Karenni, Congolese, Somali Bantu, Burundian, Ethiopian, Liberian and Bangladeshi farmers, Providence Farm Collective runs as far as the eye can see on both sides of Burton Road.
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From 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays, everyone is invited to stop by 5701 Burton Road to see what the neighbors grow for dinner and shop one of the most diverse produce selections any Western New York farm stand can offer.
That means okra, tomatillos, kale, collards, scallions, onions, tomatoes, basil, lettuce and Swiss chard. Also, green beans, Asian and Italian eggplant, peppers – sweet and hot – and summer squashes.
“Each of our programs is a little different, but the community farm program addresses fresh food insecurity in communities, as well as access to those cultural foods and the tradition of farming,” said Kristin Heltman-Weiss, the collective’s executive director.
Its three-year incubator program helps develop new farm businesses. There are presently 28 small farms under the Providence Farm Collective umbrella.
“It’s not just about getting food, and about getting food they want,” she said. “For a lot of these people, it’s a continuation of their life. They were farmers before they came here, and they want to farm, because that’s what they do.”
The Providence Farm Collective community-supported agriculture program (also called farm subscriptions) has all the customers it can handle this season. “In September or October, we’ll start taking orders for next year,” Heltman-Weiss said.
Find out more at providencefarmcollective.org.
OPENINGS & CLOSINGS
The Towne: The Towne Restaurant (186 Allen St.), once an essential round-the-clock hub at one of Buffalo’s buzziest cross-streets, has closed.
It was founded by Greek brothers George and Peter Scouras. For decades, it was an essential part of an Allen Street evening, a punctuation mark on a night that might include Mulligan’s Brick Bar or The Pink. Its omelets, pancakes, souvlaki, coffee refills and, especially, rice pudding made it a welcoming haven and refueling stop for many a Buffalonian.
Read the full story here with memories of former customers.
And here are more worthy Towne stories that didn’t make the first cut:
Leith Chamberlain, graphic designer: I grew up on Park Street, kitty-corner corner to the Towne. This was my family’s breakfast spot, after-church spot, celebration spot, and my dad – who played in the BPO – ate there on a regular basis with his BPO compatriots. There are so many memories tied up in that place.
Nancy Parisi, photographer: Towne was a high-school-era oasis for first-time, independent meals over the years. Over the years, it was a post-clubbing place of gather, highjinks, and snacks, a perfect spot for a large group brunch, a pop-in for their unparalleled rice pudding and a mid-work night takeout place where watching the staff or fellow customers was bonus entertainment.
John Carocci, graphic designer: It’s not a night on the town until it’s a morning at the Towne.
Brian Mietus, chef-owner, Bacchus: When I was 17, my mom was a waitress there and got me a job. I was in charge of buttering toast, muffins, etc. Crazy busy Sunday brunch and I was working between a Greek guy and a Lebanese guy. They were always arguing, and I guess the egg guy had had enough and stabbed him in the middle of brunch, open kitchen! I never saw either guy again, but the next day I got promoted to egg man and never stopped cooking.
Eva Hassett, consultant: When I came back to Buffalo in 1988, the Towne was where you went to be “seen,” run into community leaders. Lots of local elected officials went there for breakfast. More recently, it was a place to not be seen – not that it wasn’t busy, just a different crowd and (for me) less likely to see anyone I knew. But it was always a place for everyone. Read more
Lake Effect Diner comeback: The restored diner car turned University Heights breakfast-lunch spot is returning to greet University at Buffalo undergraduates for the fall semester. Tucker Curtin, who owns The Steer next door, plans to start serving coffee and pancakes and much more at 3165 Main St.
That would be two years since the diner closed, Curtin noted. Read more
Mon Ami is dark: The French-inspired café and bakery at 20 Cathedral Place has closed. Greg Grigorian and Armen Pogosyan opened the restaurant in March 2019. Read more
Q: Is there anything like @whitecowdairy yogurt around today?
– Ryan Walley, via Facebook
The short answer is no. The wide-ranging little jars in exotic flavors like rose and saffron, once sold below Grand Central Station, are history. White Cow Dairy owner Patrick Lango is on an extended dairy-centric vision quest in central Mexico. (Follow along at @cocinapapel if you like).
“There are some up-and-coming micro-creameries that I truly hope will take the reins,” Farm Shop manager Kelcey Gurtler said. “But with strict dairy regulations, it is hard for newcomers to dabble in.”
Ordinary Farmstead in East Aurora is getting close, and will offer yogurt and cheese from its goats once it completes the regulatory process.
“It’s moving along well,” said Paula Tofil, an owner. “But since the massive supply chain disruptions of the pandemic, we’ve learned patience in ways we never thought possible.”
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