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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”.

Freedom Gardens Education

We have scheduled the first in a series of Freedom Gardens Educational Gatherings.

All of our Educational Gatherings will be interactive, short, and virtual (via phone or computer) for you and your fellow Freedom Gardeners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although you may have all the pieces to grow your own Freedom Garden at home on your own, you are not alone!

To tap into the Freedom Gardens community and network, join us for this first virtual gathering.

Tues, June 9 at 5:30 to 6:15 PM

WELCOME! FROM BUFFALO FREEDOM GARDENS… In this first Educational Gathering, you will learn more about Freedom Gardens- what the program is, who runs it, and upcoming Educational Gatherings and additional resources that are available to you and your fellow Freedom Gardeners.This first event will be facilitated by Gail Wells, Rebekah Williams, and others.

You can join the gathering via phone or computer.

To join via Computer:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84323859192

Meeting ID: 843 2385 9192

To join via Phone:

One tap mobile

+19294362866,,84323859192# US (New York)

Dial by your location

+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

Meeting ID: 843 2385 9192

Get more details about this and future gatherings on this webpage. Stay tuned!

Ques? Call (716) 830-9453 or email Gail Wells at yourfreedomgarden@gmail.com or Rebekah Williams at Rebekah@foodforthespirit.org.

Freedom Gardens Thank You

An open letter to the Buffalo BIPOC community,

All around the country community responses to the COVID-19 virus have been varied, most have been uplifting and inspiring and a few divisive and disturbing.  The virus has manifested in Buffalo like it has in other places, spreading in Black populations disproportionally thereby resulting in more cases and deaths. It has exposed and exploited the systematic conditions that arise when poverty and race are neglected and ignored. Our response to this crisis has been to target the underlaying causes that perpetuate the health disparities in our communities…the lack of healthy fresh nutritious food. Our health will improve when we have neighborhoods that prioritize health and wellbeing.   

This letter is a thank you to everyone who contributed to our marketing success and provided funding for Freedom Gardens.  For over a century Buffalo has been the epicenter of Black freedom movements created in response to challenging moments in history. An expansive coalition of community-based organizations announced the Buffalo Freedom Garden initiative to bring organic gardens that inspire resilience, independence and community building to residents in the zip code areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus. Our print campaign was launched last week with an ad and article in The Challenger News. The message that Freedom Gardens was our response to the COVID crisis was carried by influencers on social media, radio programs on POWER 96.5, and undergirded by a direct marketing campaign fueled by the power and influence of community-based organizations! Once the community began to take notice in less than five days over 334 households applied for 50 gardens!  I would like to thank all the families and individuals that filled out an application. Your outpouring of support is being used to expand the number of gardens we can establish in an attempt to meet the increased demand.   

Black owned media outlets, Citigroup, WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund, Juneteenth Festival Agricultural Pavilion Committee, Food for the Spirit, Grassroots Gardens, Access To A-Free-Ka and others played a critical role in organizing, promoting, funding and providing leadership for this initiative.  Please join me in acknowledging our sponsors and supporters. Our best moments come when we unite as a community to do the work of the people! Together we rise! 

Sincerely,

Gail V Wells & Rebekah Williams

Freedom Gardens

Buffalo Freedom Gardens

This article was prepared by Gail Wells for The Challenger News, May 2020.

pictured: Gail Wells, of CopperTown Block Club, surveys raised bed containers for planting being readied for distribution to community households

An expansive coalition of community-based organizations, spearheaded by Seeding Resilience, have come together to address food apartheid in areas hardest hit by the COVD-19 virus with an initiative designed to inspire resilience and independence for Buffalo residents.

Freedom Gardens is a groundbreaking approach to strengthening community, building self-reliance, and increasing food security that is supported by Food for the Spirit / Buffalo Food Equity Network, Grassroots Gardens WNY, CopperTown Block Club, Access To A-Free-Ka, the Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion Committee, and the Juneteenth Festival of Buffalo.

Through Freedom Gardens, 50 households in Buffalo will be supported in starting backyard or front-yard, raised-bed or container gardens at their own homes at no-cost. Freedom Gardens will equip all aspiring home gardeners with tools, resources, and knowledge that will enable them to grow organic food to help feed their families. Residents living in the following zip codes are eligible to apply for free supplies and material: 14215, 14213, 14211, 14209, 14208, 14207, 14204.

All interested should complete the online form at bit.ly/freedomgardens by Monday, May 11, 2020 by 5:00 PM.

The value of having a Freedom Garden is the emphasis it places on wellness, healthy eating and growing your own organic food. Freedom Gardeners will have access to an educational program designed by Soul Fire Farms, operated by Co-Director Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black.

The educational program will provide the gardening and farming expertise of Black growers, including gardening and nutrition expertise, information about growing culturally relevant food and herbs, and resources for self-care and COVID safety protocols. Freedom Gardeners will receive heirloom organic non-GMO seeds and seedlings that will provide fresh vegetables and herbs throughout the growing season.

Freedom Gardens is supported by Citigroup and WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund, local philanthropic organizations collaborating to address the most critical needs in our community.

For additional details visit: bit.ly/freedomgardens

Gardening Days in 2019

We are hosting end-of-the-season Gardening Days at community gardens in early October and you are invited!

The Buffalo Food Equity Network is hosting a series of Gardening Days events as a follow-up to the Agricultural Pavilion at the Juneteenth Celebration this past June. Our Gardening Days will center Black families and garden sites in Buffalo. This is an opportunity for the community to celebrate the harvest together with growers.

The dates and times of the Garden Sites are:

  • Thursday, October 3 from 4:30 to 6:30pm @ JFK Center on Clinton & Hickory
  • Tuesday, October 8 from 4:30 to 6:30pm @ Lincoln Memorial Church on Masten & Northland
  • Wednesday, October 9 from 4:30 to 6:30pm @ Jesse Clipper Garden Site by the Colored Musicians Club downtown

Buffalo families can come out to each Gardening Day to garden together, take part in a hands-on garden activity, and share a barbecue meal with the community.

Click here to pre-register your family to attend one or several Gardening Days visit http://bit.ly/gardeningdays.

Click here for more information about the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN).

Click here to view pictures and updates from the Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion.