Some local groups that have spent years transforming vacant city lots into community gardens have won a competitive federal grant. The funding will go towards expanding the Buffalo Community Food Hub Project.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded Grassroots Gardens of Western New York and the Massachusetts Avenue Project a $389,000 grant. Grassroots Gardens' Executive Director Melissa Fratello says their network includes nearly 100 community gardens in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. And the grant will help establish four new market gardens.
"For our school gardens this means that some of our youth can explore farming and business as a livelihood, as a career. And it's something that will be accessible to them because they have that agricultural incubator space right in their school courtyard," Fratello said.
The funding will also help the nonprofits increase access to healthy foods in neighborhoods with few options. And support new jobs for young people, at MAP's new Farmhouse and Food Training Center, on Buffalo's West Side, according to MAP's Executive Director Diane Picard.
"We are committed to creating economic opportunities for folks in this neighborhood and throughout Buffalo. And to meet the food needs of people in our city," Picard said.
Fratello says community gardens are a critical food source providing more than 30,000 pounds of fresh produce for local families each year.