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.

Buffalo Food Sovereignty Week in 2019

During this October’s harvest season, local Buffalo organizations are collaborating on several events to improve the health and economy for communities of color in Buffalo. With an emphasis on Black, Indigenous, and Latinx growers, chefs, and food systems leaders, the events will bring Buffalo communities together to learn with and from each other.

Families are invited to come out for these free public events during Buffalo Food Sovereignty Week:

  • “World On Your Plate” 16th Annual Conference – Fri, Oct 11, from 5 to 9pm, and Sat, Oct 12, from 8:30am to 4:30pm, at Daemen College in Amherst. Details and registration are online at http://www.worldonyourplate.org.
  • “Community Cooks: Decolonizing Our Diets” Panel Discussion & Food Sampling – Tues, Oct 15, 3:30 to 5:30pm, at Gerard Place in Buffalo. Food trucks will arrive on site from 4:30 to 6pm with dinner options. Details and registration are online at bit.ly/decolonizingourdiets.
  • “Farming While Black” Keynote by Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm – Tues, Oct 15, from 6 to 8 pm, at Gerard Place in Buffalo. Food trucks will arrive on site from 4:30 to 6pm with dinner options. Details and registration are online at bit.ly/decolonizingourdiets.
  • “Harvest Festival” Saturday Academy – Sat, Oct 19, from 10am to 1pm at Hamlin Park Academy BPS #74, 126 Donaldson Road, Buffalo NY, 14214. Details and registration are online at bit.ly/HarvestFestivalBPS2019.

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.

Click here to pre-register for the Community Cooks and Farming While Black events on October 15.

Click here to pre-register for the Harvest Festival Saturday Academy on October 19.

“All Our Relations” Presentation on Native American Cultural Competency

Food for the Spirit is co-hosting a free presentation “All Our Relations – An Overview of Native American Cultural Competency” presented by Pete Hill (Cayuga, Heron Clan), “All Our Relations” Project Director at Native American Community Services of Erie & Niagara Counties, Inc. (NACS).

This presentation will take place on Saturday, March 23, from 1 to 4:30pm at the Rochester Folk Art Guild, 1445 Upper Hill Road, Middlesex, NY . To help us plan appropriately, please RSVP to Rebekah Williams at Rebekah (at) foodforthespirit.org.

Pete Hill is an enrolled member of the Cayuga Nation, Heron Clan and currently the “All Our Relations” Project Director at Native American Community Services of Erie and Niagara Counties, Inc. (NACS). Pete has worked at NACS for over 26 years, spending the majority of that time with several youth and community programs addressing alcohol/substance abuse prevention, suicide prevention, crisis intervention, teen pregnancy prevention, and HIV risk reduction. He has integrated many Native American cultural teachings and approaches into program design, evaluation, and strengths-based approaches. An experienced trainer, Pete has also been heavily involved with the development of new approaches and initiatives designed to help the community to move beyond the impact of historical traumas and related factors that have negatively impacted the inter-generational health and vitality of Native American people.

This presentation will include some of the basic foundations and diversity of Native American cultures, provide an understanding of how many, little-known aspects of historical underpinnings have shaped our relationships between Native and Non-Native communities, and share how we can promote improved health, respect, and pride for all. A special highlight of this presentation will include a 30-minute screening of a very powerful documentary, Unseen Tears: The Impact of Native American boarding schools in Western New York. This video features interviews with Native American elders and community members who share their experiences and consequences of the residential boarding schools that operated under the focus to “kill the Indian, save the person.” Pete will explain how factors such as residential boarding schools have influenced the dynamics and wellbeing among Native communities, as well as the relationships with American and Canadian society.

Space is limited. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Rebekah Williams at Rebekah (at) foodforthespirit.org.

For more information about our co-hosts, click on these links for Native American Community Services and the Rochester Folk Art Guild.