Barn at the Oles Farm. Photo by Christa Glennie Seychew.

I became acquainted with the Oles family when I was in third grade, when their youngest daughter, Pam, was my classmate. We bonded over a love of digging in the dirt during recess, and subsequently I made many childhood memories at their beautiful farm in Corfu, New York. I ate their fresh strawberries every year on my birthday in June; I drizzled their maple syrup on my pancakes.

As I grew up I watched the Oles Farm develop a strong reputation in Western New York; as I became more involved in Buffalo’s food scene, I began to see their products on the menus of some of the best restaurants in the city. I saw their farm become a place of education for chefs, student groups, and anyone interested in sustainable farming. I saw their Promised Land CSA become one of the largest and most successful in the area. I had always respected Dan and Jane Oles and their children for all they’ve done, but by the time I became a food writer, I recognized that they were pioneers of the local food movement, and I can’t overstate their impact on Western New York.

Last week a fire destroyed their winter barn. The cause of the fire is unknown, but the damage was severe: several bales of hay, three refrigerators full of meat, equipment, and their winter shelter for their livestock. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

The Oleses have earned a tremendous amount of respect in the food industry here, and it didn’t take long for word to spread; within days of the announcement of the fire, restaurants were planning fundraisers to help the Oles family out.

Trattoria Aroma offers seasonal farm dinners hosted at the Oles farm; the most recent dinner was this weekend, and all proceeds went to the Oles family. On Thursday, 10/11, Shango Bistro, which has had strong ties to the Oles farm for years, will throw a fundraiser featuring local beer, live music, and hors d’ouevres; tickets are $25 and the proceeds will go to the Oleses. And on Friday 10/12 and Saturday 10/13, Bistro Europa, undoubtedly the best place in town to experience Oles products in all their glory, will donate 50 percent of its take to the family each day.

If you’re in the Buffalo area this week, please consider patronizing one of these fine businesses to support one of the region’s most prominent and beloved farms.


UPDATE: Trattoria Aroma is doing a another fundraiser on October 20th! The restaurant is hosting a farm dinner at the Oles Farm featuring live music, a farm tour, and a private wine tasting. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Oles family. Purchase tickets and find additional details here.