Meet Win!

Hello, my name is Win. My full name is Win Thu. I am 14 years old and a freshman at Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. My major is vocal because I love to sing, that's my passion. I am originally from Thailand. I am trilingual - I speak English, Burmese and Karen. I came to America when I was 2 and have been living in Buffalo for about 12 years.

I have been working with MAP for about 7 months and so far is has been great! I joined MAP because I want to learn more about gardening and because it's cool knowing that I'm only 14 and have a job. Also, that I'm getting paid to do things that interest me. What I have learned so far is to garden 😀 and to problem solve. My favorite part of the job is planting, gardening and farming. My least favorite is writing, turning compost and moving mulch. The challenges I face sometimes working as a high schooler is time management. Some days I have tons of homework and when I get home after work I am so exhausted.

After graduation I have so many plans. One, I want to go on a road trip on the day of my graduation to look around and see where I want to live. Second, I plan to move in with my boyfriend. Third, I want to go to collage. Forth, I want to travel, a lot.

Outside of work I don't really do anything. It's either I stay home and watch Netflix and shove chips in my mouth or go out and spend time with my boyfriend. I really don't know how I give back to the community, except growing plants with my supervisor Claire. I'm interested in food justice because people deserve the best and should be treated with equal amounts of food. My story relating to food is just sitting down with my family and sharing a meal with them.

Meet Messiah!

My name is Messiah Mclaurin. I am a freshman at Tapestry High School. I live in Buffalo, NY.

I've been working at MAP for two years. I like working at MAP because I have learned new things. Before I came to MAP I didn't know how to hoe, how far to plant garlic apart or what scarlet runner beans were. I have also learned how to work around other teenagers without being easily disturbed. Last year when others would be around while I was trying to do work I would complete get off task. Working here helps me have self-control.

My favorite parts about working at MAP are the 'Big Group Meetings' when all the teenagers and most of the staff come together on Monday from 4pm-6pm. In these meetings we mostly talk about unfinished conversation from the previous week. My least favorite part about working and going to school is that it makes me tired. Sometimes I don't get enough rest because I be up all night trying to complete homework. The hard part about having a job and going to school is sometimes I'm not always on time. I'm also only a minor so I have to depend on a public bus to pick me up from one destination and take me to the next. Not all the buses come on time, which can also make me late.

When I graduate high school I want to go to college and specialize in cosmetology. A cosmetologist is someone who does hair, nails and other things with beauty products. I also want to model. Sometimes I catch myself taking pictures for nothing. A couple months ago I realized I want to be a model. Most of the time when I'm not working my spare time goes to self defense. I personally like boxing. I think it's something my body is built for.

The reason I joined the food justice movement is because food is an important part of the human body. When people's food is messed with then so is one's health. I also like speaking on having healthy food in corner stores so parents and grandparents don't have to travel 1.3 miles to Tops market or Wegmans to get a fresh bag of oranges.

I am so passionate about food because your food choices can either help of hurt you. You have to connect with the food you eat.

Meet Soliegh!

My name is Soliegh and I am a sophomore at Tapestry High School. I have always lived in a very art oriented household on the west side of Buffalo. Some of my favorite activities include drawing, listening to music and hanging out with friends. In the warmer months when I'm not at work you're likely to find me and my crew gallivanting around Delaware Park or laying on a blanket in Bidwell. I LOVE THE SUNSHINE!

I have worked at MAP since the beginning of summer 2016. I first heard of the summer program at the Mass Ave farm stand and pursued it because of my interests in food and agriculture. I have learned a lot of good skills at MAP, such as sustainability, advocacy and how to be environmentally conscious.

My favorite part of of working at MAP is all of the farm work (minus moving mulch). My least favorite part is writing blogs. I really enjoy having this particular job while attending high school because unlike school I'm actually interesting in everything I do here and I like having a separate community of people from school.

I'm interested in food justice because like most systems in America, the food system is completely backwards and I feel, often overlooked. The amount of food waste and the number of starving people in this country is completely unacceptable. Another thing that concerns me is the process of producing food that is harmful to the environment, ie monocropping, CAFO's and the way that meat is treated before and after the animal is brought to slaughter.

I have absolutely no idea what I want to do next in life, but the ultimate goal is to own a boat.

Caleb visits NYC

By Caleb G

In February I went on a college trip with MAP to New York City. This trip reminded me of the dangers of complacency. Living in my small city I had grown used to riding the same bus, seeing the same people, and breathing the same air; I had become comfortable. New York City reminded me that the world is so much bigger than I’m consciously aware of.

It’s crazy because we didn’t tour Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty. My favorite moment might have been walking around and randomly discovering this donut company called “The Donut Factory”. I can still picture the Maple Bacon Donut I and I realized I would never have new experiences like this if I am not open to it.

We also went to the New School for Social Research and met with an admissions counselor, Andre. Andre had a unique school and a refreshing thirst for knowledge, even though we were supposed to be the students. Andre expressed to me that his school is more about following my passions and interests, not a specific curriculum. I want to be a family doctor and assumed I would have to take a lot of science heavy classes; which I’m not opposed too, but Andre told me for my undergrad I could take classes like Epigenetics, which is the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off. He also mentioned Dietetics, two classes that have absolutely nothing to do with each other.  At the New School the goal is to figure out who you are and who want to become, not to fit in to a specific mold. That spoke to me on a spiritual level, I want to spend my time exploring new experiences in the world.

I really enjoyed people watching in New York City. I’m glad none of the city residents were offended by my intrusive stare. I need glasses, but I enjoyed watching how people presented themselves. A common appearance I saw on speeding feet were dress shoes, something I only wear when I want to “dress for success”. So why would people who generally walk most places wear uncomfortable shoes? I got the feeling everyone was doing their best not to become like the homeless men we would ignore.

Farmhouse Construction: In memory of the straw bale greenhouse


In 2007 MAP started building it's first greenhouse. The 520 square foot straw bale greenhouse was "One of the greenest houses in Buffalo and the first and only green house of its kind in B-lo!! WestsIIIIIIDE! Peace." 2007 Growing Green blog post, by an unknown author.

Insulated with straw on a cement foundation, the construction of this greenhouse was a community endeavor. Neighbors, experts and Growing Green youth all helped. Over the years this space has been used to start seedlings for MAP's farm and seedling sale, grow shoots and was home to MAP's first aquaponics system.

After ten years (and the roof blowing off) it was time to say good bye to MAP's straw bale greenhouse as we make way for construction on our new farm house to begin in earnest. We have exciting plans on how to use this new space - stay tuned! In the meantime, take a trip back in time and see the straw bale greenhouse in action!


Meet Birch!

Hi, I'm Birch!

I'm a City High School sophomore and I've been lucky enough to work at MAP. I started here in the summer of 2015. I got lucky at a seed wasp and last-minute I was accepted into the program. Now, I'm originally from a small town called Binghamton, NY, but I've truly growing in Buffalo; MAP has been such a monumental part of it. My family is very big on food. We have a history of disease that my parents believe can be change if we eat right. This is the basis of my food activism. That activism, in conjunction with MAP has allowed me to go from a know-it-all 13 year old novice to a spoken (if a bit sarcastic) 15 year old activist. I have such a great time learning about our food system from the dirt up. I prefer to work in the farm (despite compost turning) because it's so rewarding to see my effort literally blossom before my eyes.

Recently I've become interested in the school to prison pipeline.  I hope to open a juvenile correctional facility pilot. It'll be based on education and rehabilitation through agriculture. My goal is to make it inclusive as possible and eventually inspire teenagers who would have otherwise been forgotten about by our penal system to take the changes given to them in life and improve the communities they come from. Race and equity work is very relevant right now and I hope to be a part of the solution in the future.

Sophia's New York City experience

By Sophia B

The trip I went on to New York City with MAP was one of the best experiences I have had in my senior year of high school. The trip gave me knowledge about the environment and structures of the different schools I have applied to, communication with different people in different schools, and careers that I’m interested in. I learned more, got a clearer picture of who I want to be, and where I see myself after high school, and that was a priceless opportunity.

On our drive to New York; our first stop was Syracuse University’s Falk College and the Food Studies Department. One of MAP’s alumni, Neena, had given us a little bit of background on the Food Studies Department before the trip because she is excited to be a part of Syracuse University. The environment and diversity on campus is welcoming. So, while on campus I realized “Wow Neena was right. I can see myself coming here”. We talked to the professors in the food studies program and exchanged knowledge with them. After this wonderful experience at Syracuse we were now on our way to New York City.

In New York we stayed at American Youth Hostel, one of the largest hostels in the country. This place was epic, cheap and definitely a place to meet new people with a completely different background from you. Most of them are from other countries and want to learn more about America and will teach you about their countries. We stayed there for free because it was a hostels give back and in return we made them dinner for one night as community service. While we made dinner people came to us with questions. For instance, how it like to live as a teenager in America, the challenges and what we liked about it. We also had question for them but I was more interested in learning the different languages they spoke. I learned how to say hi in Brazilian, Swiss and stole some of the German's accent.

It was a breath taking experience touring New York City for it was my first time there. What I can say about it? We visited New York University, The New School and Columbia University. All this schools had one thing in common: students with urban minds. I took a look at the places they spend most of their time in and their views on it. For example Adam, one of our alumni, has only been at NYU for not even a year, but he was confident with the city and most importantly he knew mostly every part of the city. Before that I was nervous because the city seemed big, so he took that burden away from me. He also gave advice on why I should choose New York City for college.

We also met with other teenagers who do the same work we do at MAP relating to food justice and policy work. We come together to join hands in the uplifting food and food justice as one of the issues that will be at The People’s Climate March in Washington DC in April.

This trip was definitely worth it for me because the experience I had in just three days was incredible; it was a college road trip, a vacation, learning experience and meeting new friends rolled up into one. A huge thanks to everyone who made this possible and to Bekah who believed it was going to happen when I had given up on it.