By Jennifer Pauly
President, Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce will honor businesses and individuals at its annual Chamber Awards Gala from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, April 28, at The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls.
The evening is one of the highlights of the year, held to celebrate the business community and the citizens who help contribute to the success of the region.
The annual awards gala begins with a cocktail hour and hors d'oeuvres, followed by a sit-down dinner and awards program. A silent auction will take place throughout the evening. Tickets are available through the Chamber of Commerce office (895 Center St., Lewiston) at $100 per person (valet parking included).
The chamber's series of profiles on the 2017 gala honorees opens this week.
Youngstown Business of the Year: Sanger Farms & Bakery
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce Sanger Farms & Bakery as recipient of the Youngstown Business of the Year Award. The Youngstown Business and Professional Association assists the chamber in providing a business nomination that has shown dedication and service to the Youngstown community.
Sanger Farms & Bakery, owned by Mike and Sandy Tuck, is located at 852 Youngstown-Lockport Road, just outside the Village of Youngstown. Sandy's parents, the Sangers, originally purchased the farm in 1974 from Howard Tower, with Mike and Sandy purchased it from her parents in 2013.
Sandy has been a fixture, baking pies and baked goods for over 40 years, alongside her mother and daughters. When Mike and Sandy took over the operations, it was a natural transition involving Mike, Sandy and the five kids: Lisa, Carly, Shari, Rogan and Claitan.
As a family-owned and -operated business, Sanger Farms is known for homemade baked goods, locally grown produce and U-Pick, sweet ciders and jams, and now the Back Barn Café, which is serving breakfast and lunch.
The farm is one of the few in Western New York that is open year-round.
Mother Nature is one of the biggest factors in running a farm. Nestled in the fertile land a couple miles from the Niagara River and a mile and a half from Lake Ontario proves to be a benefit to many crops enduring frost and drought. The 2016 summer drought affected many of the peach crops in the region; however Sanger Farms was able to produce one of its sweetest and biggest crops.
The U-Pick crops start with the strawberry season, followed by cherries, peaches and apples.
Throughout the season, Sanger Farms can also be found at local festivals, including the Lewiston Harvest Festival and Niagara County Peach Festival, as well as the North Tonawanda Farmers Market.
Sanger Farms' customer base comes from all over Western New York and Southern Ontario. Families will drive in from Clarence, Amherst and Canada to purchase fresh produce, bakery items and U-Pick products.
Last year was dedicated to clearing out the hiking trails and creating a better picnic experience overlooking the pond, so visitors can extend their visit to the farm. The picnic area features handmade picnic tables.
With the addition of the Back Barn Café serving a menu that caters to all ages, Sanger Farms is now a destination where hours can be spent touring and enjoying the farm grounds - from customers to bus groups and school groups. The renovated room housing the Back Barn Café features dining tables and counter space that can comfortably seat over 40 people. The apple-sorting room has windows where students and visitors can peer in during sorting season and watch the action.
The Town of Porter Historical Society donated an old wheelbarrow for display, which was salvaged from the Kelly Farm, as well as other historic farming equipment.
Mike and Sandy have found their customers return weekly, sometimes daily, during peak season. Word of mouth has been a great form of advertising.
Recently, they also found success with updating their website and Facebook page. Facebook has enabled them to get the word out immediately. What's more, new menus and brochures have been designed and printed for distribution at local tourist locations.
Over the years, the ease of processing credit cards has also expanded the way they are able to handle business transactions.
One of the best things of having a business in this region is the ability to meet a lot of different people and developing friendships with local customers. With their proximity to the lake and river as a draw to tourists, Mike and Sandy have had visitors from Taiwan, Dubai, Singapore and beyond! They have a welcome book that they encourage people to sign.
New additions to Sanger Farms include an extended menu featuring dinner items, set to debut later this year. Mike and Sandy also hope to cater to more bus groups and school groups.
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce and the Youngstown Business and Professional Association proudly congratulate Sanger Farms, the 2017 Youngstown Business of the Year.