Grassroots Gardens WNY has found a new home on the city’s East Side. After one of their biggest output years to date, with 110 gardens at their inventory, it was decided that they needed to expand from their modest digs in the Essex Street neighborhood on the West Side (near Five Points). This new Broadway Street headquarters not only triples the amount of space that they can work with, it also comes with an annex storage garage and a sprawling lawn parcel to the west. On the east side of the building is Sanctuary.
Yesterday I met up with Grassroots Gardens’ Executive Director Jeanette Koncikowski to tour the space and learn about the new undertakings underway at the organization. Koncikowski told me that after an extensive search for a spot, and almost giving up, they came across the real estate gem which offered up everything that they needed. They signed the lease this summer, and have been preparing the interior ever since.
The new headquarters provides a ton of amenities, including office space, a lounge, a community meeting and reception space, a kitchen, an ADA compliant bathroom, and storage capacity. It’s a wide open footprint, with tin ceilings, wood floors, plenty of natural light, and enough room to accommodate for continued growth.
As for the garden area next door, it will be a model garden – a teaching garden – come spring. The garden will be based on accessibility, and will be ADA compliant, with standing raised beds, a sensory garden (based on smells), and braille elements.
Koncikowski told me that the move to the East Side, where most of their gardens are located, opens a lot of doors for the organization. Along with working with groups such as WNY Independent Living, Deaf Access Services, and Olmsted Center for Sight, they are going to reach out to a number of East Side-based operations including a veterans housing facility across the street, block clubs, and other groups, to engage gardeners, to feed the community, and to incorporate best practice models for their new Community Garden Resource Center.
In the spring, Koncikowski is excited to introduce a community garden that is based on pollinators, rain gardens, growing veggies, etc. There will possibly be some sort of a healthy food stand component down the road.
The new location at 389 Broadway is primely located for better access from bus lines, and is clearly visible on Broadway. Already that enhanced visibility has paid off – the fall harvest festival was the best one yet, and more people are coming to the community meetings.
Koncikowski mentioned that community gardeners will have access to the in-house Tool Library via electric pass code on the garage door, making it easier for people to tend the gardens. To that end, they are in the process of building up their tool supplies. Also, plant deliveries to the building will be a breeze thanks to the annex garage.
Moving forward, there is a plan to create a large mural on the side of the building, with a theme of food justice. “This is the dream that we have all been looking forward to,” said Koncikowski. “After 25 years, and doubling our staff this year, we feel like we are in the right space at the right time.”
The community garden application is open for next season – be sure to visit Grassroots Gardens online for details.