Seeding Resilience; A Coordinated Response to Food Security During COVID-19

“Seeding Resilience’s rapid yet deliberate response is made possible due to pre-existing networks in the community, such as the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), a movement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).” – Dr. Samina Raja, PhD

In 2020, a coalition of over 160 individuals and organizations came together through weekly meetings and coordinated action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Buffalo. The coalition was called Seeding Resilience and it included growers, emergency food providers, bicycle couriers, food system planners, food justice advocates, researchers, and others.

Dr. Samina Raja, University at Buffalo’s Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab founder and Buffalo Food Equity Network member, wrote an article about the coalition. In the article, she outlines Seeding Resilience’s three-pronged strategy to: (1) rapidly redistribute food to neighborhoods in need; (2) increase food production in the city; and (3) increase employment opportunities.

Raja wrote: “To address the acute crisis, food is being procured from local and/or minority-owned wholesalers and/or farmers. Food is being distributed by Feed Buffalo, an emergency food pantry that intentionally serves healthy and halal food with dignity. Food is being transported by bicycle couriers and volunteer drivers to anyone who requests it, while offering vegan, organic, and halal food. For a more equitable recovery, the coalition is increasing food production city-wide through a network of backyard/frontyard Freedom Gardens, a term coined by Gail Wells, a longtime food justice advocate. Led by a partnership of Food for the Spirit, an emerging organization committed to cultivating spaces for racial healing, ecological justice, and equitable food systems, and Grassroots Gardens of Western New York, a not-for profit organization that supports community gardens, the new Freedom Gardens both respond to the present crisis and seed a more equitable future by giving city residents greater control over their own means of food production.”

She continued: “Seeding Resilience’s rapid yet deliberate response is made possible due to pre-existing networks in the community, such as the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), a movement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).”

Throughout 2020 and 2021, a group of BFEN members and allies served as the Seeding Resilience facilitation and organizing team. That group included: Bethany Ortquist, Bianca Davis, Cameron Herman, Della Miller, Donna Latham-Edwards, Gail Wells, Hope Isom, Jared Strohl, Kelsey Gosch, Kyliel Thompson, Rebekah Williams, Samina Raja, Sashti Balasundaram, Silver Light, and William Gonzalez.

To read the entire article, click here to read it online or click here to download it as a pdf document.

2021 Freedom Garden Application

Request supplies and materials for a Freedom Garden at your home by completing this form by Friday, May 7, 2021.

Through Freedom Gardens, 50 households in Buffalo will be supported in starting backyard or front-yard raised-beds and container gardens in their own homes at no-cost. If you are a resident of Buffalo living in any of the following zip codes- 14215, 14213, 14211, 14209, 14208, 14207, 14204- you are eligible to receive supplies and materials for a Freedom Garden at your home.

To request supplies and materials for a Freedom Garden at your home, please complete this form by Friday, May 7, 2021.

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.