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Queen City Farm: Creating Urban Agriculture

Rod McCallum has a vision for this long-vacant East Utica home. He sees through its weathered exterior to what once was, and what can be again. McCallum envisions this grand Queen Anne restored as a fresh market and community gathering place, and it’s 2.5 acres of surrounding, largely vacant land as Buffalo’s first urban farm.

“When I look around here I don’t see vacancy and abandonment,” he said. “I see opportunity, I see excitement, I see life.”

Bringing those possibilities to life will require support from all areas of the community — from the neighbors themselves, who will have ownership over the farm, to sponsors (lots of sponsors), to city officials, who will have to turn over to the 19 city-owned lots on the block, including four vacant demo-ready homes. The proposal has been gathering speed over the last few months, even finding support from Erie County Executive Joel Giambra and other local bigwigs.

“The devil’s always in the detail,” said City Commissioner Rich Tobe, “but right now any productive use of land in Buffalo is welcome.”

Turning unused land into a farm or, on a smaller scale, a community garden does not just find use for previously wasted land, it solves a fundamental problem in many of our neighborhoods: getting fresh, healthy food to residents. The recent closing of Latina’s, by no means a model grocery store, only highlights the difficulty many have in accessing healthy and natural food.

A recent study by UB planning students, under the supervision of by Samina Raja, found the East Side to be a “toxic food environment,” where the majority of available food is unhealthy, and convenient stores abound where stocked grocery stores lack. The Farm, then, would give its low-income neighbors the means to eat fresh and healthy food that they themselves harvested. They could have ownership over not just the farm, but the health of their families and themselves.


“Self-reliance, which is often overlooked, is established through growing,” Raja said. “This is possible in Buffalo because we happen to have a tremendous land resource. There is a vast amount of vacant land that culturally Buffaloanians think is a problem. But if you see if through my eyes, you would see an asset.”

MAP’s Growing Green program, with gardens on the West Side and a greenhouse under construction, provides a shining example, which McCallum will follow, of the positive impact such gardening can have on individuals and communities.

To learn more about community supported agriculture and gardening programs in the city, pick up May’s Green Issue of Buffalo Rising.

McCallum will speak tomorrow at the Landmark Society’s weekly “Tuesday Talks,” at 12:15 p.m. in the Market Arcade. Later this month, Queen City Farm will be hosting its Groundbreaking Campaign Kickoff event at 5:30 p.m. on May 21. The Kickoff is being sponsored by Greater Buffalo Savings Bank and will be held in their former Pierce-Arrow showroom branch at 2421 Main St.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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