Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks | Harvest Season Food Bag Giveaway

According to the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance: “Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”

– Declaration of Nyéléni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, Mali, 2007

2021 Food Bag Giveaway Flyer

Since 2019, Food for the Spirit has coordinated Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks’ events each year during harvest season, to coordinate efforts of local Buffalo organizations to improve the health and economy for communities of color in Buffalo. With an emphasis on Black and Indigenous growers and food systems leaders, associated events bring Buffalo communities together to learn with and from each other.

As part of Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks events this year, Food for the Spirit is coordinating with Lincoln Memorial UMC First Fruits Food Pantry, Urban Fruits & Veggies, African Heritage Food Co-op, and Impacted Families Project on a Harvest Season Food Bag Giveaway.

The Harvest Season Food Bag Giveaway will take place on Saturday, October 23rd in three Buffalo neighborhoods: Hamlin Park, the Fruit Belt, and Broadway-Fillmore. The groups are not pushing out information about the neighborhood distributions because they each have regular patrons who depend on the limited supply of bags provided in their neighborhoods.

But what makes this event different from regularly occurring food distribution events in Buffalo neighborhoods, is that the Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks’ Harvest Season Food Bag Giveaway event connects Black food systems activists with Black farmers, food distributors, and transportation systems to strengthen Buffalo’s Black food system.

It is important that Black folks know that we can be more than simply food consumers, we can be owners in the food and agriculture system, and that is what this event is about.

The participating organizations form a food and agriculture system supported by two Black-owned farms producing healthy and culturally appropriate food for the community (Urban Fruits & Veggies and Moss Family Fruit & Veggies), organizations that operate refrigerated box trucks that transport fresh food throughout the city (African Heritage Food Co-op and Urban Fruits & Veggies), and several distribution organizations that host food giveaways in neighborhoods hardest hit by food apartheid (Lincoln Memorial UMC and Impacted Families Project).

If you have questions about the Harvest Season Food Bag Giveaway or Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks, contact Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org.

This event is made possible through the support from Seeding Resilience and the WNY COVID Response Fund.

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