Sunday, October 13, 2013

Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo

This summer I spent Garden Walk weekend celebrating, because I had just joined the board of one of my favorite Buffalo nonprofits. I first "met" Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo while I was working on Grant St, and loved both what they were doing and the fact that they had such a stellar reputation. If you haven't "met" them yet, they are a nonprofit that leases and indemnifies vacant city lots when a neighborhood wants to create a community garden.

I'd kept my eye on them over the past few years, but had never gotten involved since I'm not a gardener. Every spring I excitedly renew my dreams of being a gardener, but after killing 2 jade plants and accidentally putting the third in the refrigerator for a week (it's doing fine), I have to admit to myself that making green things grow is just not in the cards for me.

After I was reintroduced to Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo through the United Way, I searched through their online presence and was amazed at how much their vision for the city resonated with my own. Their approach is that real transformation happens because of the work of passionate neighborhood gardeners...Grassroots just clears away obstacles so that the gardeners can succeed.  

Their vision is stunning: using shared green spaces to reimagine and strengthen communities by enabling the communities to make their own changes. They are passionate about the transformative power of community gardens for our city, and it's easy to see why.

Trinity Place community garden, Garden Walk Party July 2013
A garden is a very physical thing, but when neighbors maintain a common space together, the mental effects are exponential. Some benefits come easily to mind (beautification, nutrition, camaraderie), but others benefits (civic pride, safety, education) can be even more profound. On the subject of "growing more than just plants," our website talks about how:

"After more than a decade of work, we are seeing the positive impacts of community gardens in our city. In areas that have been desecrated by high crime and poverty, neighbors are coming out of their homes, engaging with one other and working side-by-side again to beautify and rebuild their neighborhoods. Block-by-block, the city’s streets are being transformed back into neighborhoods."

Hope to see you there this Thursday!
In addition to the attractive vision, I've found that the down-and-dirty work of the organization is just plain fun. My first day was spent listening to a classical violinist on a warm summer night amidst lush plants and laughter. I love admiring a garden and then realizing, "that's one of ours."

If you were involved you might be learning yoga in a garden, attending free workshops, weeding with your neighbor, or picking your own salad all summer long. We also work closely with other stellar community organizations you've heard about, like Urban Roots and the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP).

There's more to say than I can fit here, so check out our work for yourselves. Our website is www.grassrootsgardens.org, and we just joined Twitter as @GGBFLO.



The next opportunity to get to know the organization is coming up on Thursday (10/17), when we will have our annual Harvest Celebration. The event is a night of food and fun where you will be able to support our work and also meet our gardeners, staff, and other supporters. See our website for more details - or, if you're not the planning type, you can stop by the Tri-Main building at 6pm.

There are many ways of making our city better. None of them is the single answer, and all of them contribute something good. If we have passionate people working on many different problems and solutions, we will be able to slowly move the city forward. Find the place that appeals to you most, and join in.

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