Imagine if farmers had a way to sell their fresh produce and goods year-round in a brick-and-mortar shop – that was the mission of Farmers & Artisans, at 4557 Main St. in Snyder, beginning in 2009.
Julie Blackman, who is the sixth generation at her family’s Blackman Homestead Farm (4472 Thrall Road, Lockport), was one of the founders and now owns and operates Farmers & Artisans, which also serves lunch Monday through Friday, along with breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.
It all got started when farmers at a seasonal market discussed the idea of a year-round shop to connect producers and consumers. Now Farmers & Artisans offers offers hundreds of locally produced products, many of which come from local farms.
The holiday season is especially busy as the shop is filling orders for everything from fresh wreaths to a variety of pies to take home and bake. Blackman stepped away from the hustle and bustle to talk about buying local and supporting area farms all year.
Question: How has the farm-to-table effort taken off in recent years?
Blackman: Every year we see growth and more people interested in local food and beverages. They have increased appreciation of the quality of the products and the effort it takes to get local food to their own tables.
Q: How does Farmers & Artisans support local farms and businesses?
A: We directly purchase produce, meats, dairy, bakery items, beverages and pantry goods from over 100 farmers and producers from across New York State, with a majority from Western New York.
Q: In what way do you try to make the holidays merry for customers?
A: We offer a lot of local holiday goodies. We are taking orders for wreaths and poinsettias from Heimiller Greenhouses in Newfane and a December produce box from Hurtgam Farm in Cambria.
Our bakers and chefs start ramping up for holiday pies, quiche, breads and cookie orders. I am working with a few farmers on some specialty meats for the holidays.
We offer a variety of gift baskets for personal and corporate giving as well. This Saturday, December 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., we have a tasting event with Tommyrotter Distillery, pairing their spirits with a few of our great mixers.
Q: You offer everything from a seasonal fresh flower share to boat scallops from Massachusetts - depending on what's available. It seems like there is always something new. What are the top sellers at holiday time?
A: Our bakery items are very popular. We are taking orders for our delicious frozen pies ready for you to freshly bake at home. Our beautifully decorated mix of Christmas cut out cookies are made with creamy butter and all natural and organic ingredients. We also have great gift items from $10 on up. Some small unique items for hostess gifts, teachers, neighbors and co-workers. Gift cards, too.
Q: How is Farmers & Artisans handling all of the holiday requests?
A: We are making a quick transition from our busy Thanksgiving holiday to Hanukkah and Christmas. I loaded out pumpkins one day, and brought evergreens in the next! Holiday orders are starting to roll in.
Q: What trends are you seeing this year?
A: I think the nice weather is tricking us and most don't realize Christmas is less than three weeks away. A lot is going to take place fast, but it is fun.
Q: Coming from a farm family, how does it feel as you connect customers to area farms?
A: It's nice to see all the Western New York support for our rural and urban small businesses. Everyone works so hard and cares about their products and services. We are happy to be connected to this community.