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Genesee Country Farmers' Market

May 11, 2020 - 10:49pm

The Genesee Country Farmers Market Inc. suddenly has become quite a lightning rod for discussion at Batavia City Council meetings.

City Council tonight gave its go-ahead for the market to conduct business again this year at the east side of the parking lot on Alva Place and Bank Street, but not before a 25-minute debate that focused on the practice of allowing food truck vendors to conduct business on the market grounds and at other downtown locations.

Council members, at their April 27th meeting, tabled the nonprofit’s application to operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from June 5 through Oct. 30, citing the need for clarification of the organization’s address and financial arrangement.

The next day, Beth Kemp, executive director of the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District, which supports the GCFM, provided an email from Sharon Brent, the market’s treasurer, which appeared to answer Council’s questions.

Fast forwarding to tonight, several Council members brought up other issues concerning the market, with the subject of food trucks dominating the talking points.

“I don’t know if any of you have received any comments from local restaurateurs but I have in the past in regard to the food vendors that are allowed to come into the farm market and sell food there as far as prepared food like the food truck, things of that nature,” John Canale said. “Some of our restaurants that are in the BID district are concerned that these people are coming in and they’re able to sell food at lunch time, which is actually taking away lunch business from a lot of our downtown restaurateurs.”

Canale said restaurant owners, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, are “fighting for business” and food trucks will just make it that much more difficult for them. He went on to say that the farmers’ market is “a wonderful thing” but still called for eliminating food vending trucks at the market.

Robert Bialkowski then asked a series of questions about the farmers’ market operation – How much of the parking lot can they use, what does the $50 membership fee cover, who is the president and vice president, and how much is spent on advertising?

He also suggested that Council should treat event applications in the same way they do resolutions.

“I really feel that we should handle it like any other business item,” he said. “If we all agree to move it from conference to business, then at the business meeting we would vote on it. That’s just my personal opinion."

City Attorney George Van Nest said he was of the opinion that Council might be imposing stricter requirements upon the farmers’ market compared to other requests.

“Traditionally, it’s been a situation where the City has looked at a limited set of information,” he said. “I just have a slight concern that we’re going fairly far afield here for a particular event application and treating this one a little differently than we would other event applications.”

The conversation returned to food trucks with Council President Eugene Jankowski mentioning that he received an email from Kemp on March 11th asking about the possibility of restricting food trucks from downtown on specific days of the week -- with the exception of the farmers’ market. He shared news that Buffalo and Rochester have recently passed a measure designed to limit food trucks parking near restaurants.

After Rose Mary Christian noted that food trucks have to pay sales tax, Jankowski suggested putting the issue back into the BID’s hands.

“That to me would be more of an internal BID issue than it is for Council to get involved,” he said. “These (applications) are a way to give us a heads-up so that we can provide a service to all the people who are going to be there as well as the community to make sure that we’re not conflicting … that we’re not blocking their progress.”

Canale agreed that the matter should be handled through the BID.

“I think it’s a matter of the BID realizing that a lot of these downtown restaurants are challenged by having more food vendors come downtown and be able to sell food downtown at the lunch hour that aren’t having to pay the BID assessment (as well as property taxes),” he said.

Patti Pacino, who along with City Manager Martin Moore serves on the BID board, said “if these owners are concerned, I’d rather they take it to the BID board than try to take it to City Council, because we’re only going to turn around and take it back to the BID board.”

Jankowski then suggested that Moore contact Kemp to define the areas of concern and discuss it again at a future Council meeting.

“Maybe (we need to) modify the City Code for the food vendor truck to not be right in the middle of the BID area where they’re paying taxes or the assessment, and on top of that, they’re parking right in front of a restaurant,” he said.

That prompted a sharp response from Christian.

“Actually, it’s called competition. Center Street Smoke House has a food truck and he’s all over. He not only pays sales tax but he pays property tax …,” she said. “I think you’re opening up Pandora’s Box if you decide to do this. Like I said, it is competition and I know about the food truck because I had the first one in Batavia.”

She added that the City could face a lawsuit “if you’re going to continue on with this nonsense.”

“Nobody makes anyone go to those trucks; nobody makes anyone go to a restaurant. It’s a choice – freedom of choice,” she said, prompting Al McGinnis to respond in agreement.

"We should stay out of it," he said. "I think Rose Mary is right.”

In the end, Council approved the application but instructed Moore and Pacino to address Kemp’s email as a courtesy to the BID, an entity with close ties to the City.

April 28, 2020 - 11:38am

The treasurer of Genesee Country Farmers’ Market Inc., has responded quickly to the Batavia City Council’s request for more information about the organization as it looks to operate the market at the Alva Place parking lot beginning in June.

GCFM Treasurer Sharon Brent, of Schwab Farm Market in Gasport, sent an email to City Council this morning after being advised by Beth Kemp, director of the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District, of issues that arose at Monday night’s Council meeting and were reported on The Batavian.

Brent wrote that she has been treasurer of the corporation for 15 years and uses the mailing address of P.O. Box 303, Gasport, NY, 14067 because that is the post office closest to her residence. She also said that the previous treasurer lived in Oakfield, and that’s why an Oakfield mailing address was listed.

She said all money collected from “stall rent” is used to pay a market manager, advertising, supplies, permits, postage and insurance.

Total income in 2018 was $28,526.65 and expenses were $27,406.32, leaving a net income of $1,120.33.

In 2019, the numbers were $25,857.05 and $25,946.05 for a net loss of $89.

“Any profits stay with the corporation and are used the next year for more advertising or other increased costs or saved for unknown expenses in the future,” she wrote, adding that the GCFM files IRS form 1120 each year.

Brent also pointed out changes in the operation of farmers’ markets this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic as issued by the state Department of Agriculture.

The current requirements are:

-- No forms of entertainment; no cooking demonstrations or sampling; no craft or non-food vendors, except soap or hand sanitizer; space out vendors as much as possible; minimize amount of food on display with customer access; increase the number of handwashing stations and make hand sanitizer available.

-- Manage customer traffic within the market to eliminate congregating and to promote social distancing. At this time masks must be worn by vendors and customers if social distancing cannot be kept.

-- Prepackage raw agricultural products such as apples, potatoes, onions, etc. to the extent possible. All baked goods must be prepackaged.

Brent wrote that board members are working on how to implement these guidelines and any changes that come.

The market is scheduled to be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from June 5 through Oct. 30.

May 20, 2019 - 2:13pm

Press release:

The Genesee Country Farmers' Market @ The Downtown Batavia Public Market opens for the season on Friday, June 7th, at the market's location on the corner of Bank Street and Alva Place in the Downtown Batavia Business District.

Market hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays with the season running from Friday, June 7th, through Friday, Oct. 25th.

"This year marks the fourth year of collaboration with BID (Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District)", says Market Manager Mike Bakos, "The Market will remain a three-day per week 'Grow-Your-Own' market, featuring the freshest locally-grown produce along with unique specialty items from local artisans.

"Vendors are excited about the upcoming market season with many of last year's vendors returning along with some new additions. The market will once again participate in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), DUFB (Double-Up Food Bucks), NYS FreshConnect, WIC and Senior Farmer's Market Check Programs. Stop by and talk directly to the people that grow your food."

The market is committed to its Mission of "providing a family-friendly environment where the residents of the Greater-Batavia area and Genesee County can shop for fresh, locally-grown, produce and specialty artisanal items" -- and its Vision of "making the Genesee Country Farmers' Market @ The Downtown Batavia Public Market a WNY Destination."

Parties interested in joining the market to become a Seasonal Vendor or Day Vendor may contact Sharon Brent at (716)-560-0853 or by email at [email protected] or Mike Bakos at (716) 866-4958 or by email at [email protected].

Qualifying charities, service-groups, or 501c3 organizations that would like to participate in the market may obtain a FREE market stall by contacting the market at (716) 866-4958 or by email at [email protected].

November 12, 2018 - 2:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in Genesee Country Farmers' Market, batavia, news, business.

Press release from Mike Bakos, manager, Genesee Country Farmers' Market:

On behalf of the members of the Genesee Country Farmers' Market, I would like to thank everyone that supported this year's Market -- the City of Batavia, the Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District (BID), our 2018 market sponsors, our market vendors, and of course, our loyal customers.

The Market, located at the Downtown Batavia Public Market, on the corner of Bank Street and Alva Place, was, once again, able to sustain a three-day/week market schedule being open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., from mid-June through the end of October.

This year marked the third year of collaboration with the BID. The popular Friday "BIG" Market continues to grow and receive inquiries from new vendors interested in joining the Market.

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 people visited the Market each week, bringing 30,000 to 40,000 market customers into the Downtown Batavia Business District over the 20-week market season.

During the off-season, the Market will be pursuing new/prospective vendors with a goal of growing/enhancing the upcoming 2019 Market.

Please know that the Market is committed to our Mission of "providing a family-friendly environment where the residents of the Greater-Batavia area and Genesee County can shop for fresh, locally grown, produce and specialty artisanal items" -- and our Vision of "making the Genesee Country Farmers' Market @ The Downtown Batavia Public Market a WNY Destination."

Comments/inquiries regarding the Market are welcomed by emailing [email protected].

We wish you a wonderful and safe holiday season. Hoping to see you next June.

May 31, 2018 - 11:59am

Press release:

The Genesee Country Farmers' Market located at the Downtown Batavia Public Market opens for the season on Friday, June 8th, at the market's location on the corner of Bank Street and Alva Place.

Market hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays with the season running from Friday, June 8th, through Friday, Oct. 26th.

"This year marks the third year of collaboration with BID (Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District)," says Market Manager Mike Bakos. "The Market will remain a three-day per week "Grow-Your-Own" market featuring the freshest locally grown produce along with unique specialty items from local farms and artisans.

"Vendors are excited about the upcoming market season with many of last year's vendors returning along with some new additions. The market will once again participate in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), NYS FreshConnect, WIC and Senior Farmer's Market Check Programs. Stop by and talk directly to the people that grow your food."

Parties interested in joining the market to become a Seasonal Vendor or Day Vendor may contact Sharon Brent at (716)-560-0853 or by email at [email protected] or Mike Bakos at (716) 866-4958 or by email at [email protected].

Qualifying charities, service-groups, or 501c3 organizations that would like to participate in the market may obtain a "FREE" market stall by contacting the market at (716) 866-4958 or by email at [email protected].

July 16, 2011 - 9:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, food, Genesee Country Farmers' Market.

We've come into that part of the season where there is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables at the local farmers markets. Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by the Genesee Country Farmers' Market at Batavia Downs and took a few pictures.

The market is open Tuesdays and Fridays.

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