WNY Food Stories Project Update

Since 2020, a team of Buffalo Food Equity Network members have led the Western New York (WNY) Food Stories Project to engage community storytellers in sharing their perspectives about food and land issues in Western New York.

Our project centers Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and Pacific Islander storytellers to create stories and tools for community transformation and liberation. The first group of storytellers were engaged virtually due to the pandemic, and with support from Nexus Community Partners and the W.I.N. Initiative, a video was produced with highlights from their stories.

You can watch our 2020 video and learn more about the WNY Food Stories Project here.

Sherman Webb of the W.I.N. Initiative recording a video interview.

This summer, we collected a second group of stories at Buffalo’s 2022 Juneteenth Festival as a participant in the Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion. Approximately twenty festival attendees shared their food stories at a video booth created in collaboration with the W.I.N. Initiative. Now, we are working to create a new video with this fresh batch of stories.

In the coming months, we are looking forward to working with Buffalo Food Equity Network members to find ways to lift up these stories to facilitate change in the WNY food system. Our efforts are grounded in the belief that radical transformation in systems and structures is necessary for communities most impacted by food systems injustices to thrive.

Food for the Spirit Helps to Convene the Juneteenth Ag Pavilion

Food for the Spirit has supported Buffalo’s Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion since the pavilion’s inception. The first Juneteenth festival was held in Buffalo in 1976 and it has now grown into one of the largest celebrations of Juneteenth in the country to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. The Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion was introduced as part of the Juneteenth Celebration in Buffalo in 2019 with the purpose to provide hands-on educational presentations and demonstrations related to agricultural history; as well as resources and education related to current practices and careers in agriculture.

Food for the Spirit’s Buffalo Food Equity Network members and partners have shared space at the pavilion and provided one-stop access to resources and information for festival-goers. Activities at the pavilion included a children’s shoe box garden project, plant seedling giveaways, gardens-in-a-bag and food demonstrations. There was a video booth set-up by the WNY Food Stories Project, Emergency Food Storage consultations by Ms. Della Miller, and a beautiful exhibit by UB Food Lab students highlighting the work being done by Black women leadership in Buffalo’s food system.

Jaime Swygert, Chair of the Buffalo Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion, with her father

Support from Food for the Spirit has allowed the Ag Pavilion’s founder and chair, Jaime Swygert, to execute a vision and create a space where Black and brown people could convene and gather community resources, historical education, access career information, and learn about food equity, justice, and policy-advocacy efforts.

2022 marked the festival’s return to in-person celebration, after some virtual holdings due the pandemic. In 2020 and 2021, even while the festival was virtual, Buffalo Food Equity Network members continued to support the Pavilion; members held plant seedling giveaways and curated exhibits to commemorate the Juneteenth holiday. This support enabled the Juneteenth Ag Pavilion to continue distributing information and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Written by Jaime Swygert, Chair of the Buffalo Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion, September 2022.

Food for the Spirit is Hiring!

Food for the Spirit is pleased to announce our search for a Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN) Director!

Apply by extended deadline of November 14, 2022. Details at: bit.ly/2022_BFENJobOpp

Since 2019, Food for the Spirit has filled a niche in Buffalo and across New York State working alongside networks and people who share a commitment to addressing issues of race and racism in the food system. We work with community partners, organizers, and facilitators in the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), a movement for Western New York’s new food economy, led by communities of color, for communities of color.

First established in 2019, the BFEN now has over 200 members. BFEN members have built relationships and trust, and they are collaborating around a number of critical food systems initiatives including: Buffalo Freedom Gardens, the Igniting Hope Conference, the Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion, the Seeding East Fellowship, and more. The BFEN has made a lot of progress in Buffalo and the network has grown to the point that having a Director is key.

The BFEN Director will work with the Food for the Spirit team and the BFEN membership to provide strategic direction and leadership around the development of a policy-advocacy platform and campaign. They will support program development for BFEN initiatives and project management for collaborative projects led by BFEN members. They will be a weaver, helping to grow the network, encouraging relationships, trust, and community-building amongst BFEN members and key partners. They will support fundraising and development to ensure sustainability for the BFEN in the years to come.

To apply, view the hiring announcement and details at: bit.ly/2022_BFENJobOpp

Please share this posting with your networks! Help us attract a candidate who can work in partnership with us to bring about a new food economy in Buffalo, led by communities of color, for communities of color. We are confident that with our combined effort, we will find a person with the passion, skills, sensitivity, and commitment needed to fill this crucial new role.

Join Buffalo Freedom Gardens at an annual plant sale and giveaway event

Join Buffalo Freedom Gardens at Groundwork Market Garden’s 2nd annual plant sale and giveaway event on May 14, 2022. The event will take place at 1698 Genesee Street, Buffalo, NY 14211 from 10am to 2pm. Two free plants per household, while supplies last!

See more details in the event flyer here. Contact Buffalo Freedom Gardens on Instagram and Facebook.