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Buffalo Food Equity Network: Introduction & FAQ’s

What is the Buffalo Food Equity Network and who is it for?

Food for the Spirit faciliates 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.

You can join the network if you identify as a person of color.

What is the new food economy?

That is a great question! And it is a question that we will be answering continually as we learn and grow together…

What we do know (though) is that a new food economy will provide economic benefit around food. Perhaps that economic benefit will take the form of accessing food or growing our own food, offering food-related jobs for our communities, ensuring access to fresh healthy food for all of our communities, building up neighborhood capital and resources around food and food access, and so much more.

We also know that the new food economy will be led by communities of color, directly benefitting our communities.

Who do we mean by “communities of color” and why do we use that language?

The term “communities of color” is sometimes used to describe communities made up of folks who identify as being from Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx, Pacific Islander ancestries, and more.

We have used the term “communities of color” to identify communities of people who make up our network because that is language that is being used by many communities across the country who identify in those ways, and across diverse ancestries.

Why should I join the network?

You should join the network if you identify as a person of color and you would like to connect with other people of color throughout Western New York who are engaged in and/or leading food justice projects in their communities. Again, “people of color” is the term we use to describe people of Black (African and African American), Indigenous (Native American), Asian, Middle Eastern, Latinx, and/or Pacific Islander ancestries.

The ways that you can connect with the network are:

  • Join and participate in our listserv.
  • Share information with the listserv.
  • Come to a BFEN potluck or event.
  • Host an event for BFEN.

How can I join the Buffalo Food Equity Network?

To join the network listserv, you can sign yourself up at https://groups.google.com/d/forum/buffalo-food-equity.

You can also request access to the listserv by sending a message to Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org with the Subject Line: “Request to join Buffalo Food Equity Network”.

Barriers for Black Farmers’ Success

Photo Credit: Moss Family Fruits & Veggies, Albion NY

Co-ops have a long history of facilitating power for rural farmers in the Southern US and globally, but never took deep root in New York State (NYS). It’s past time, and in this era of isolation and crisis of democracy Food for the Spirit is supporting the formation and development of a Black farmer co-op for New York State.

A steering committee composed of NYS Black farmers and stakeholders working to secure food and land sovereignty for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) farmers, met to discuss how a co-op might meaningfully address organizing and infrastructure gaps that have been barriers to Black farmers success.

With only 139 Black farmers of the 57,000 NYS farmers accounted for by the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, the steering committee found consensus around the idea of expanding those farmers’ visibility by way of umbrella marketing under a Black brand. 

The next stages of this cooperative project will see through the work of knitting together values, purpose and identity by marketing together. It’s early, but the vision for what can come of this has been brightening the winter.

For more information or to inquire about getting involved, email Rebekah@foodforthespirit.org.

Written by Emilie Miyauchi.

Freedom Gardens Harvest Celebration

Register for a free gift at https://bit.ly/3lxNLJh.

Naima Penniman, Soul Fire Farm, featured speaker at First Annual Freedom Garden Harvest Celebration

The first annual Freedom Gardens Harvest Celebration featuring Naima Penniman, spoken word/hip hop artist and Program Director of Soul Fire Farm will be included in the 2020 Buffalo Food Sovereignty Week. Celebrate with us as we tell the story of our resilience, our self sufficiency, our self determination and our desire to thrive and not just survive the COVID virus. As gardeners we were successful in growing organic food in our own backyards! This is unprecedented! You are invited to sign into Zoom on Tuesday, October 13th at 7pm to meet our volunteers, sponsors, the gardeners and their families, hear the plans for next year, learn how to become a freedom gardener and share in our triumphs!

Register for your free event ticket(s) on Eventbrite.com. The first 20 to register on line will get a “gift”!

Where: Join Zoom meeting online https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85164056444

Meeting ID: 851 6405 6444

One tap mobile: +19294362866,.,85164056444# US (New York) or

Dial your your location: +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

“We ‘grow’ to support ourselves, control our destinies, and provide for our families while building a healing community that is healthy and well.”

Email: yourfreedomgarden@gmail.com for more information or if you have problems accessing Zoom. You must download the Zoom app if you are new to Zoom.

Buffalo Freedom Gardens Partners: Soul Fire Farms, Food for the Spirit, Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), Grassroots Gardens, CopperTown Block Club, Access to A-Free-Ka, Juneteenth Festival of Buffalo, NY, Seeding Resilience, Buffalo Love Your Block, CCE Erie County Master Gardener Program, WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund Buffalo, Fruition Seeds, Urban Fruits & Veggies, Feed Buffalo, Black Ink Press, and the African Heritage Food Co-op

Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks in 2020

In 2019, we hosted Buffalo Food Sovereignty Week and it was a wonderful way to galvanize around the good work Buffalo Food Equity Network members and partners are doing in the community. (Click here to read about last year’s events). So this year we are doing it again!

In October 2020, during harvest season, local organizations are collaborating once again on several events to improve the health and economy for communities of color in Buffalo. With an emphasis on Black and Indigenous community members and food systems leaders, the events will bring Buffalo communities together to learn with and from each other.

  • Gardening Days – On Saturday, October 10, Food for the Spirit will partner with Freedom Gardens, the Lincoln Memorial Church Garden and Food Pantry, Neuwater & Associates, and the CopperTown Block Club to host a Gardening Days event at two community garden sites stewarded by African American garden leaders in Buffalo.  The virtual event will include stories of the garden and information about these important initiatives.  All are welcome to join the virtual event, which will take place online on Saturday, October 10 at 10:00 AM.  To register, visit http://bit.ly/GardeningDays2020.
  • Freedom Gardens Harvest Celebration – On Tuesday, October 13, everyone is invited to join Freedom Gardens and Food for the Spirit for a celebratory event with Naima Penniman of Soul Fire Farm. This participatory and poetic event will feature inspiring solutions from Freedom Gardens, Soul Fire Farm, and solutions from other BIPOC-led organizations and movements, both past and present. All are welcome to join us on Tuesday, October 13 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. To register, visit https://bit.ly/3lxNLJh.
  • Building Foundations for Food Sovereignty: Collective Leadership & Storytelling – On Wednesday, October 21, the Nexus Community Leadership Learning Initiative will co-host a “virtual visit” with members of the Buffalo Food Equity Network to learn about shared decision-making and leadership processes that are advancing food sovereignty in Buffalo, NY.  All are welcome to join this virtual event, which will take place online on Wednesday, October 21 from 12:00 to 2:00 PM (EST).  To register, visit http://bit.ly/BfloFoodStories2020_Registration.

Everyone is invited to these free and engaging public events! Come out to learn what is going on to make healthy and sustainable diets available and affordable to everyone.

Black Girls’ Retreat

WHEN: September 2020
WHERE: Rochester Folk Art Guild, Middlesex, NY
CONTACT: Rebekah (at) foodforthespirit.org

Food for the Spirit’s (F4tS) Black Girls’ Retreat offers us space to retreat on the land to self-care within a small community of like-minded individuals. Over the course of two days and two nights, in community with other Black women, we will nurture ourselves and deepen our relationships with ourselves, each other, and nature.

Our intentions are to create a space where we practice radical self-care, self-love, and liberation. The retreat will provide us time and space where we can slow down, quiet down, and build community with each other. To deepen our love for ourselves and to build community, we will weave in ritual and celebration in ways that are meaningful to us.

The retreat will be held at the Rochester Folk Art Guild’s East Hill Farm, a 50-year-old intentional community and craft center located on 350-acres in the Finger Lakes in central New York. Harriet Tubman’s homestead is just an hour drive away. There are many creeks and several beautiful natural lakes nearby, and at the East Hill Farm there is a pond and wooded areas with numerous walking trails.

Overnight accommodations are rustic and will include camping on the land and some beds. Six meals, snacks, and beverages will be provided throughout. If needed, there may also be reimbursement available for travel costs.

COVID-statement: We will have plenty of gloves, extra masks, and hand sanitizer available, and we will ask that each participant agrees to adhere to COVID safety guidelines including wearing masks when indoors.

Join us and take some time for yourself! To apply for our 2020 retreat, visit https://bit.ly/F4TS_OurRetreat.