Our journey began back in 2002 when the Clarence Hollow Association (CHA) noticed that a recently-published list of 16 farmers’ markets in Erie and Niagara counties showed no such markets serving the northern suburbs of Clarence, Amherst and Akron.Then CHA President Donald Boyd, Jr. advised the Association felt that such a market would add dimension to the Hollow’s then eclectic mix of antique and specialty shops and other businesses…and would help to preserve the area’s historic and agricultural heritage.
A brief history of the market is chronicled below!
Several people were instrumental in bringing about the October 2002 initiative to create the Clarence Hollow Farmers’ Market, including Sean O’Mahony (Chaired of the Steering Committee), Peggy Francis, Bob Lenz, Chuck Eckert, Scott Kreher, Lisa Ohlson, Dave Robb, David Winter, Chris Sheppard, Janet Sgamma, Deirdre O’Mahony, Cheryl Anthony, Bruce Kloc and Nancy McIver - along with the guidance and support of the Clarence Hollow Association Board.
On June 7, 2003 the first Clarence Hollow Farmers’ Market opened in Victoria Park at 10225 Main Street, on the corner of Main Street and Shisler Road.
In 2004, the Market kicked off the new season in May with Plant and Flower Days, followed by the full Market opening on June 5th. This same year the Market acquired it’s first structure, Vivan’s Wine Haus donated by Vivian Krietner, to complement the introduction of wine tasting and sales from New York State Wineries visiting each week from the Western and Central New York wine regions. Nancy McIver became the Market Manager this year.
Upon the approval of the Clarence Town Board in 2005, the Clarence Hollow Farmers’ Market moved into it's present location the Hollow - the then newly-enlarged municipal parking lot at 10717 Main Street. This lot was associated with the Clarence Bowling Academy, who enthusiastically welcomed the Market. A second structure was added to the site this same year - The Country Store which was made possible by a gracious gift from Emmett C. and Carol Murphy. “Friends of the Market” was added as a new fundraising initiative. On June 25th, CHFM earned high praise from Diane Eggert, Executive Director of the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York, who wrote “It was inspiring watching the way customers visited with one another….But what amazed me the most was the commitment and drive the Clarence Hollow Association shows in the farmers’ market. First, the ability to bring a successful market together in a short amount of time, the inventiveness of the Country Store concept, and the amount of hours that you all put in to promote and administer the market is remarkable.”
In 2006, the third building was added for the Kornerstone Coffee Hut.
In February of 2007, The Leafy Green Council awarded the Market ninth place at the Empire State Fruit & Vegetable Expo for the Market's promotion of the nutritional values of cabbage and its onsite coleslaw tastings offered through the efforts of Bob Lenz and Asa Ransom House.
In 2008, and in conjunction with the Bicentennial Committee’s AgriTour, the Market’s first Annual Antique Tractor Day was held. Now known as Farm and Tractor Day, this event has been hosted every September since then, and is a huge success and well attended by the young and old. Also new to the Market was the Market Bucks program, a marketing, promotional, gift-certificate program to stimulate market traffic. Nancy McIver, Market Manager for the past four years steps down to move out west to be with her children.
Cheryl Anthony took over as Market Manager in 2009, after years as Nancy McIver’s second in command. This was a very eventful year, with the addition in June of the Market Pavilion, sponsored by Kelkenburg Builders - built to replace the 10’x 20’ canopies destroyed by wind storms in 2008. The slogan “New York State’s only ‘Rails-to-Trails’ Farmers’ Market” was coined as a result of researching showing the CHFM to be the only Farmers’ Market on the Rails-to-Trails system. The Market is situated directly on the West Shore Trail in Clarence. To further support the importance and value of our WNY local farmers and specialty vendors, the Market placed emphasis on “Buy Local” and the concept of “Shopping Market Style” to reflect how patrons could shop the market and leave with creative gifting. In July, “Fire Safety Day” with the Clarence Fire Company took shape as an annual event and in August the Market held its first annual Chalk Art Festival.
In 2010, the Market continued to strengthen its presence in the community. New to the Market was the Snack Shack operated by Carol Norton, offering breakfast sandwiches and lunch items. The Lil Sprouts program was introduced, providing children visiting the Market with activities and learning opportunities. The Market also joined the social media frenzy by launching its Facebook page at facebook.com/clarencehollowfm.
The Market continued its strides to complete in the cyber world, by launching www.clarencefarmersmarket.com in the Spring of 2011. May brought the introduction of an artful Tractor Marquee Sign, designed by John Puccio, iron artist, further branding the Market’s presence in Clarence Hollow. Permanent stanchion railings were installed at the site, and in September CHFM took over management of the annual Scarecrow Contest , which had been initiated and run by the CHA since 2009.
Over the years the Market has won several grants, along with gifts, fundraising, sponsorships and donations made through “Friends of the Market” that have supported the growth and operating expenses from season to seaon.
The Clarence Hollow Farmers’ Market, too, has been recognized as a trend setter since its inception, that other area farmers’ market have come to for direction in starting other organizations.
Market programs offered are informational and educational in nature and have grown and flourished over the years, including the weekly Community Service, Business of the Week and Animal Rescue Groups. The Lil Sprouts program offers children activities that provide learning experience on related nutrition and fitness, and the value of our farming community. Annual themed events as the Fire Safety Day, Chalk Art Festival, Farm and Tractor Day and the Scarecrow Contest, place a focus to family safety, creativity of the arts, and respect for our farming heritage along with community participation.
Live Music at the Market over the years has brought additional excitement and entertainment to visiting Market guests. Regulars to the Market entertainment program have included Jeff Didion, Jim Vozga, Craig Wilkins, Joe Mohan, The Niagara Fiddle Club, Nan Hoffman, Nickel City Frets, Outofar Trio and The Hot Country Liners.
On June 16, 2012, the Market celebrates ten years of dedication and determination to create a nucleus that supports our local farmers (sustainable agricultural), specialty vendors and the economic stability of our community. "The Market’s Menagerie” mural will be officially unveiled, along with a plaque dedication to the Jeff Perdziak, the artist. It was the dream of Cheryl Anthony, Market Manger that a farm animal mural become part of the Country Store to further draw awareness to the Market Lot during off Market days. Jeff Perdziak, the mural's artist along with the guidance of Donna Ioviero (local artist), made that dream a reality.
New to the 2012 season, are the introduction of the Clarence Center Coffee Co. & Café (Clarence Center, NY) the new operator of the Snack Shack. A new event planned for this season will be the Chef Cook-Off where local restaurants will be put to the test to create and educate our Market guests how to take fresh locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, farm fresh chicken and beef or handmade sausage purchased directly from the Market to capture the nutritional value and flavor of freshness at its best.
The Clarence Hollow Farmers’ Market, an all volunteer-run organization, has been blessed over the years with great folks who have shown and given dedicated service to the development and growth of the Clarence Hollow Farmers’ Market. These accomnplishements could not have been realized without all those who have helped over the years.
The Market looks forward to meeting and welcoming you to experience a hidden treasure in the Clarence Hollow!
Buy Fresh…Buy Local…It Matters!