Conversations in 2020 – Session 1

This past Tuesday, July 14, over 60 people joined us for the first session of Conversations on Race & Racism in 2020, co-facilitated by Food for the Spirit co-founder Rebekah Williams and our friend and partner, Petra Page-Mann of Fruition Seeds. A video recording of that first session is embedded below.

As you will see in the below video, this past week’s program also featured two special guests, Jim Wood and Earl Greene of Wayne Action for Racial Equality.

Conversations on Race & Racism are sponsored by 13 libraries in the Pioneer Library Systems. A list of those libraries sponsors are below.

To conclude this past week’s session, participants were invited to engage in further inquiry by viewing a presentation by Jeffery Robinson, the ACLU’s top racial justice expert, between this week’s session and next. A link to Mr. Robinson’s presentation and some questions to ponder are below.

For those of you who were unable to attend last Tuesday’s program, here it is on YouTube:

The link to the presentation by Jeffery Robinson is here: “The Truth About the Confederacy in the United States” and some questions to consider while viewing or afterwards are:

  • What is the role of educational institutions in teaching our shared history?
  • Why might it be important to examine what we (as a nation) have memorialized and created monuments of?
  • What is the role of the media in shaping our collective consciousness?

Here is a list of the libraries that sponsored this event:

  • Naples Library
  • Newark Public Library
  • Wadsworth Library
  • Marion Public Library
  • Palmyra Community Library
  • Lyons Public Library
  • Geneva Public Library
  • Livonia Public Library
  • Victor Farmington Library
  • Sodus Community Library
  • Clyde-Savannah Public Library
  • Gorham Free Library
  • Macedon Public Library

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:

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 or Rebekah Williams at

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! 


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 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: