Grassroots Gardens of WNY (GGWNY) is in growth mode. Currently the neighborhood greening initiative leases all 100 gardens that it maintains. The short term leases are via The City and private entities. Moving forward, the organization plans on purchasing a number of the gardens, so that it can ensure that the community garden resources are maintained in perpetuity. In order to fulfill this task, GGWNY has launched a year-long Growth Campaign aimed at raising $250K.
“Western New York has shown unprecedented interest in the creation of community and school gardens over the last few years, with our garden network more than doubling since 2010,”said GGWNY Executive Director Melissa Fratello. “Grassroots Gardens is leading the charge, building a regional network of spaces that empower people and improve quality of life, strategically conserving critical community-managed greenspace through permanent ownership, and launching a fundraising effort to steward these initiatives for years to come.“
The first four community greenspaces that have been identified to transition to long-term conservation are Black Rock Heritage Garden on Dearborn Street; the Cottage District Community Garden on York Street; the Victoria Avenue Community Garden and The University Heights Collaborative Garden on Tyler Street.
“I ran our block club for 9 years, and nothing brought us together like this garden,” said Victoria Avenue gardener Gerldine Wilson. “It’s a common ground for everybody.”
In recent years, GGWNY has been able to grow its mission thanks to the unwavering support of the Land Trust Alliance New York State Conservation Partnership Program. Moving forward, Grassroots Gardens will be joining forces with peer organization Greenprint Niagara, to form Grassroots Gardens WNY (formerly Grassroots Gardens). That directive will significantly grow the range of the organization’s footprint.
“Greenprint Niagara and Grassroots Gardens have collaborated as peers for several years,” said Greenprint Niagara President Natalie Cook. “The merger process has brought continued excitement, increased connectivity and capacity in a way that benefits both Niagara Falls and Buffalo communities.”
“Grassroots Gardens WNY, a result of the merger of two important community organizations — Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo and Greenprint Niagara — represents what can happen when a shared vision and collaborative spirit are brought to the table in the interest of serving the neighborhoods of our communities. The John R. Oishei Foundation is pleased to have facilitated the conversations that led to this merger through its office of Philanthropic Support,” stated Oishei Foundation President, Robert D. Gioia, who lent grant support and technical assistance to GGWNY.
Aside from moving forward with the ownership initiative, GGWNY is also setting out to tackle the following:
- Sustain and expand provisions of materials and programmatic delivery to all gardeners in Buffalo and Niagara Falls
- Create an equipment hub to serve the maintenance needs of gardens on Buffalo’s East Side
- To conserve and expand the impact of community and school gardens in the City of Buffalo
- Invest in and steward the 4 gardens coming under GGWNY ownership
“This is an exciting time for growth and revitalization in the Buffalo and Niagara region,”said Steve Eden, GGWNY President. “The I dig campaign will help GGWNY provide greater support to our network of gardens, including new opportunities in the City of Niagara Falls, and allow for the long-term conservation of those spaces that have become cherished components of our communities. We are calling on the citizens of WNY to assist us in this worthy endeavor.”