Get that Bus!

By Yassin Abdikadir

Hello, my name is Yassin Abdikadir, and I am a youth employee at MAP Growing Green.  MAP is a non-profit organization that focuses on urban farming.  MAP also focuses on employing teens over the summer and during the school-year.  I am trying to help MAP get a bus so that we don’t have to spend crazy amounts of money on transportation.

Not Every Farmer Is White

Credit: Some growing projects around Philly
Hi, my name is Mariah. I’m 16 years old, I’m in 10th grade, and I work at MAP.  At work lately we’ve been discussing oppression.  Today, Rebekah showed us this website that connects oppression with farmers.

#MAPyouth go to NESAWG!

Three MAP youth employees have been awarded a scholarship to attend the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) conference in Saratoga Springs next week.  Dillon Hill, Khadijah Hussein, and Donacion Nibarutu were selected to attend on behalf of MAP's youth employees.

These three were selected because of their participation in MAP Growing Green, a youth development and urban agriculture training program, but also because of their strong leadership qualities and communication skills within our organization.

Meet Serge: MAP's Communications Specialist

Hello, my name is Serge and I am a student at Hutch Tech High School. I have been a member of MAP for about a year now. I have had the privilege to work alongside great people that have taught me so much in my time here.

Meet MAP's Cornell High Road Fellow Scholar

By Kristen Green

Kristen is a new addition to the MAP family this summer! She keeps a weekly journal of all her new experiences working at MAP.

MAP Featured in Annie Leonard Video

Annie Leonard, an environmental activist and the creator of The Story of Stuff, delivered a keynote address at the University at Buffalo earlier in March.  MAP youth employees were able to attend.

Annie talked about our generation’s excessive consumerism and encouraged a lifestyle that reduces waste. She also encouraged the audience to “flex their citizen muscles” to bring about change. Check out this video made by the University at Buffalo, and keep an eye out for a bit about MAP starting at the 1:09 minute mark and then again at 1:20!

To learn more about Annie Leonard and The Story of Stuff, visit http://storyofstuff.org/.

About Chickens: Layers & Broilers

By Orion Valentin

I am Orion and I’ve worked at MAP for a year.  I am sixteen, I go to Charter High School for Applied Technology, and I am a softball player.  Sometimes I work on the farm and I watch our chickens running around.  At MAP our chickens are not laying chickens, they’re meat birds.  We will be using them to sell as meat, not to lay eggs.

Laying chickens begin to lay eggs at 15 to 16 weeks of age; they will lay eggs practically every day for the next year.  There isn’t any additional meat on them, they basically lay eggs up until they die, one day they just perish.  All their vitality is committed to laying eggs.

Broilers or meat birds are bred intentionally to be killed at a really young age. They need to be fed very elevated amounts of protein, like 28% of their diet is protein.

With little or no concern about the birds muscle quality, the eggs they lay are of lower quality then “laying eggs” because they have more tissue on their bodies.  The meat birds that you buy in the stores have been exterminated at 5 to 7 weeks or younger.

Meet Our Food Policy Council Youth

By: Kristen Janson

Meet Dillon and Lamar, the Food Policy Council's two youngest members. As one of MAP's interns, I was fortunate enough to have a chance to interview them and pick their brains about their experiences so far. To read more about what the Food Policy Council is all about, click here to read one of MAP's youth employee's report of the Council.  

How did you guys hear about the Food Policy Council (FPC), and what made you want to get involved?

Dillon (D). There was only one spot on the FPC originally, and Bekah asked me to take the position. I didn’t want to at first, I was afraid that I would have to lead meetings on my own. There was also discussion around starting a Youth Food Policy Council, and whoever sat on the adult FPC would serve as a liaison between the two. Bekah and I talked more though, and she encouraged me to write a letter to the steering committee for the FPC, asking if there could be two youth seats on the council so that it would be less intimidating for us, which ended up working. The Youth FPC hasn’t come together yet, so once Lamar agreed to join the FPC with me, I decided to go ahead with it.

Lamar (L). I heard about the FPC from being a member of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Youth Advisers Council. Dillon started coming to our YAC meetings where we were beginning to talk about improving school lunches, and joining the FPC seemed like a good fit. I applied and got the position.

What was the application process like?
D. I didn’t have to apply; Bekah had already recommended me to the position.

L. It was a lot like a college application; I had to answer questions about myself, and provide letters of recommendation and references.

What do you both feel like you can bring to the FPC?
D. I feel like I can provide a helpful youth perspective, because I am a student in the Buffalo Public School system and am the one currently eating school lunches. I feel like I have a vested interest in food policy at the school level.

L. I also feel like I can bring the youth perspective and provide similar insight into school lunches. In addition, I have experience with urban farming from my work with MAP and with policy work from my involvement in the YAC.

How has your experience with the FPC been so far? What are you guys up to?
L. So far we have had three meetings. We have been working on strategic planning and have decided on what kind of structure we want our meetings to have.

D. We have also brainstormed the types of committees and subcommittees/working groups we will form once we have some direction. They are, “Awareness and Education,” “Policy,” and “Advocacy and Justice”.

Where do you guys see yourselves fitting in to these committees?

D. I could see myself contributing to the “Awareness and Education” committee thanks to my work with MAP.

L. I could see myself fitting in to any of the committees really, I feel like I have a decent amount of experience with each of those areas; I haven’t decided on one yet.

Does the FPC have a mission statement yet?

D + L. We do, but we don’t remember the wording exactly. It has a lot of important buzzwords and is something along the lines of "seeking to strengthen and educate the community about regional food systems by raising awareness and advocating".

Do you guys feel intimidated by the being the youngest members of the FPC? Do you feel like you’ll be able to contribute?
D + L. It has been a little uncomfortable at these first couple of meetings only because we don’t have a lot of experience with making decisions about meeting structure and things like that. But we feel like once the council starts talking more about projects it will work on and the type of work it will do, we will have more to say. We are both excited to provide our perspectives and insight with the group, and really feel like we have a good chance to make a difference here.

MAP Youth Food Store Audits

By Khadijah Hussein 

This summer, MAP youth employees had the opportunity to participate in an audit of local food stores with the UB Food Lab.

Hi, my name is Khadijah Hussein and I am a freshman at International Preparatory School # 198 at Grover.  Today I’ll be writing a blog about my impressions and experiences during the summer of 2013 food store audit.  Before I begin, I will simply explain what we did during the audit.  During the audit, we went to different stores, wrote about what we saw, checked the prices for the products, whether there were healthy products or not, and much more.  So, I guess basically we went to see different stores, wrote down the facts, and shared our opinions about them.  The stores I audited were a convenience stores, 7-11, a grocery store, Aldis, and a big box store, Target.  We went to different locations, Springville, Williamsville, and in this area, Buffalo.  Some of our other co-workers went to different places but I can’t exactly remember where. 

One very interesting store we audited was 7-11.  We saw that in 7-11 there wasn’t so much of the food that we ware looking for to complete our project.  We were looking for bread, and were supposed to find white and whole wheat bread.  I think the whole wheat bread was missing.  Frozen dinner meats were also missing, we only found beef.  After the audit of 7-11, our group leader, Jordan, asked us our opinions, what we liked and didn’t like, and what was something new that we learned, that we didn’t know before.  We all had an opinion about the freshness of the food.  Each of us explained that the healthy food wasn’t as fresh as at other stores, and the most questionable things we each asked is why were most of the healthy foods missing, like whole wheat bread and frozen dinner meats.

In another conversation that took place after the audits, we all sat together as a program to share our experiences about the stores we each went to.  One of our youth co-workers, Aweso, shared his story about the banana.  Aweso said that one banana at Target was 70 cents.  He shared that one fact because he thought that it was weird that when he went to another store, like Tops, that banana would cost up to 20 to 30 cents less than at Target, the big box store they went to.  I personally think that, that banana shouldn’t cost that much money because basically it is just a small banana, and it also didn’t seem as fresh as the bananas at the other stores.  I think it costs that much because first, to begin with, big box stores really aren’t for food.  A big box store, like Target, is meant to shop for clothes, and when you get hungry and there is a banana for 70 cents there, Target probably knows that you won’t leave the store to go to another store just to buy a cheaper banana when there is already one there just for a couple cents more.

My overall thoughts about the audit was that it was a really interesting experience for myself and probably for the other people that I work with.  I don’t think though that big box stores, like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or Target, should sell bananas for that much money because it’s not fresh enough for it to cost that much, and my co-workers agree. 

Problems with Non-local Foods

By Javert Boudreau

For some people, a local food diet includes food from within a 100-mile radius, roughly the size of a large city and the surrounding suburbs or farms.  The word "local" is often used to describe smaller, family-owned businesses, or stores and restaurants specific to a certain area.  The idea of local foods operates similarly.  Local foods can describe foods that are native to, or at least able to grow in, a particular climate or region.  Non-local foods, in comparison, are foods shipped in from other areas, either states or countries.

Sure non-local foods can be good.  Without them, we would not have much of the produce sold in stores across the nation.  However, while buying from some South American country can bring foods to local stores, otherwise unavailable to the public, it can also have bad effects.  The planes, trains, boats, and trucks required to transport this stuff result in high amounts of pollution, as well as high prices for their cargo, due to the cost of gas.  The goods they carry also have little to no freshness by the time they arrive in the stores and are bought.

Buying nonlocal foods also damages your local community.  Many of the stores selling these foods are large companies, with chains spanning the country.  These stores divert income from smaller local businesses, eventually causing them to close and resulting in a lack of jobs.  This causes an increase in poverty, and soon, your street be looking ghetto.

So we talked about why you shouldn’t buy nonlocal foods, but why should you shop local?  Because some smart-mouth with a barely justified grudge against large corporations like Wal-Mart told you to?  No.  While you might be deprived of some foods, shopping local can help your environment and the local economy in the long run.

Shopping in local stores brings jobs to local people, which helps rejuvenate the economy.  Food bought from local farms is also fresher and cheaper (depending on the generosity of the farmer), and decreases pollution because there is no need to ship goods across the country.  Also, unlike large farming companies like Monsanto, a company known for using dangerous chemicals in conjunction with their foods, some local farms use little more than pesticides, and are much healthier as a result.  At MAP we grow all our foods naturally, using no chemicals or pesticides in the production of our food.

In total, the prosperity and healthiness of your community will, at the very least, lead to higher levels of happiness and mental abilities, which may, over time, turn your neighborhood into a supportive community.

Meet MAP's New Markets Director

By Boncko Ba

MAP would like to introduce you to our new Markets Director. Her name is Danielle Rovillo. I am Boncko Ba and I interviewed her.

Boncko: Why did you want this position?
Danielle: I love gardening, love food, and I like working with youth.

Boncko: What’s your work background?
Danielle: I use to work at a pizzeria when I was younger, but now I have been working with a non-profit organization for 4 years.

Boncko: Where are you from?
Danielle: I am from Amherst near UB south campus.

Boncko: What’s your favorite vegetable?
Danielle: I like beets and Brussels sprouts.

Boncko:  What are your hobbies?
Danielle: I like gardening, paper crafting, and live music.

Boncko: What college or university did you go to?
Danielle: I went to UB for undergrad and masters. I also went to ECC.

Boncko: Do you like working with youth?
Danielle: Yes, I am very excited to work with youth. I was working with youth before this.

Boncko: Where did you work before you got this position?
Danielle: I was working at The Service Collaborative.

The MAP Your Future Program: Featuring Solamon

By Solamon Thang

I am going to achieve a good career, because I have good guidance, dreams, and determination. I have supportive friends and family, but not only friends and family, also teachers. MAP Your Futures Program is one of my guidance. I also have dreams and determination.

Having a lot of friends, family, and teachers who support you is a good thing. My mom is one of my family members who has always supported me. Since she have never went to school, it makes me want to become successful and achieve great things so she can be proud. I also have teachers who support me in my academic and future plans, for example my ESL teacher, Ms.Critoph. Ms. Critoph taught me the value of education.

MAP Your Futures Program is another guide for me. The program brings speakers from different careers to speak to MAP youth about the sacrifices they made to achieve their career goals. Their words showed me the value of determination and offered me guidance. By listening to the speakers, I came to realize the things I should focus more on and what are things I need to give up and stop doing.

I have many dreams and I am determined to achieve them. First, I want to finish high school as one of the top 10 students in my school.  Then, I want to go to college to become a doctor. After college, I want to earn a lot of money for my family, and then after earning enough money for my family, I want to travel around the world and help other people who are in need.

By having good guidance, dreams, and determination, I will achieve a good career. I have friends, teachers, and family who support me. I also have guidance, the MAP Your Futures Program being one of them.

MAP Youth Tour Modern Landfill

February 17th, MAP toured Modern Corp's landfill
By Serge Muharareni

Landfills have pros and cons just like everything else. Landfills are places where trash and garbage are disposed. Many people have concerns about the effects of landfills. MAP is taking a trip to Modern Corporation’s landfill and H2Gro Greenhouses to see how they operate.

As you know a landfill is a place where trash is disposed. Landfills are used for waste management. Landfills are also used for recycling. Some landfills are called sanitary landfills and are isolated from the environment to prevent any dangerous emissions.

Landfills raise many concerns. People worry that they are not safe and can affect human health. People are afraid that the gas emissions from landfills will lead to air pollution. Ground water pollution is another thing that scares them. Everyone wants a healthy neighborhood and that is why some people are concerned about landfills.

MAP is going on a field trip to Modern Corporation’s landfill and H2Gro Greenhouses on February 17th. The trip will help MAP youth understand what goes on in the landfill.  We will talk about how the methane (gas that escapes from the landfill) is trapped through pipes.  The methane is very beneficial in terms that it is useful in greenhouses; inside, methane is converted into electricity.

Modern's H2Gro Greenhouse is heated by electricity generated by methane gas.

As I have mentioned earlier, landfills are not only bad but also beneficial.  MAP is planning a field trip to Modern Corporation to see how it operates.  The trip will allow us to understand the possible positive and negative effects of landfills on the environment.

Remembering the Message of Dr. King

"Memorial abre 10ª Mostra Internacional de Cinema Negro" from http://www.memorial.org.br/
By Aweso Noor

On the BusinessDictionary.com website, social justice is defined as, “the fair and proper administration of law conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice.” With this definition my focus shifts to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s response to injustices and how social justice involves the Massachusetts Avenue Project. I believe there are many non-violent ways to respond to social injustice, and the main advocate of this type of resistance is Dr. King.

Today, Dr. King is considered a significant figure in American history. Although his birthday just passed a few days ago on the 15th, America is now looking forward to the 20th of January to celebrate his life and achievements. Dr. King is known by many as the voice of the American civil rights movement because he worked for equal rights for all. This is an important aspect to understand because of the time period and how blacks were treated in the Southern United States. Dr. King preached excessively about nonviolent protest including civil disobedience. Retaliation he thought is not a necessary means in order to accomplish equality. By preaching about love for one another and peace Dr. King believed it would prevail over the injustices. One of his famous speeches “I have a dream” is coming to fruition because everyone is integrated and America is full of diversity just as he hoped.

Just as Dr. King fought for social equality and justice, MAP is also an advocate of social justice. Unlike Dr. King however, MAP focuses on the food aspect of injustice present in Buffalo. MAP helps ensure that everyone living in the area is able to get fresh and healthy foods. Buffalo is filled with food deserts and MAP's goal is to deliver healthy foods to those areas, and sell that food at a cheaper price. MAP helps fight inequality by targeting low income families, because not everyone is able to afford fresh and healthy foods.

Dr. King preached many times for people not to resort to violence and to live in harmony. Ultimately his life was taken away from us because of this, but America is still feeling his impact. His legacy will forever be remembered. Everyone wants to live in a perfect world, but at the end of the day social injustice is still prevalent throughout our society. I believe it’s our job as individuals and organizations to work together to help end social injustice.

The MAP Your Future Program: Featuring Serge

Serge, MAP youth employee
By Serge Muhahareni

Hi! My name is Serge and I am a student at Hutch Tech High School. I want to be a mechanical engineer, because I like cars. To me, building a car is like putting together a puzzle, each part is important and cannot be misplaced.

 I have been a fan of cars since I was a kid. I remember the one toy I was able to keep, since my birth until I was five, was a mini Elmo sitting in a toy car. I also loved seeing my dad work on motors when he took me to his job occasionally. I used to tell my classmates that my dad had the coolest job in the world. It is for that reason that I like cars and want to work on them in the future.

Not only did I like toy cars as a child, I liked taking the transformers apart and putting them back together. I have always liked putting things together, especially puzzles. I saw my dad once taking out the door of a car and I asked him; “Is it broken?” He responded; “No, it’s just like your toys, things come apart and then they go back together.” But as you know, a car cannot be put back anyway you want, it has to be accurate. If a car is not put right then it is not a car, just as a puzzle is nothing without all its pieces.

Cutaway drawing, from en.wikipedia.org
Part of making cars is designing them. That is a very difficult task. The designs have to show every aspect and every detail without a single mistake otherwise the entire project is ruined. That worries me a bit because if a single piece is not in the design, is missing or is misinterpreted then everything goes wrong. For that reason, I know I must not be careless or overconfident in this type of job.

In conclusion, even though this is a tough job where no flaw is permitted, I want to be a mechanical engineer. I have been familiar with cars since my childhood and I know I picked the right future for myself.

Bowling for Bucks for MAP!

strike! By Tinou Bao on Flickr.com
By Boncko Ba

I am Boncko Ba and I want you to donate to our fundraiser called Bowl-A-Rama. I’m one of the employees at MAP, we are Massachusetts Avenue Project. We hire youth during summer time and during the school year. We have a farm over on Massachusetts Avenue in Buffalo, NY. We grow organic food for people who need it and it’s also affordable.

Bowl-A-Rama is a fundraiser for MAP to raise money so we can hire more teens and get more tools for the farm. Last year MAP’s Bowl-A-Rama brought in over $6000! This year’s event is taking place on February 9th, 2014. You can participate by pledging to give MAP money per pin bowled.  If you know someone who works at MAP, ask them about Bowl-A-Rama so you can be their sponsor and donate.

Donating is a huge part of MAP. We want people to donate to MAP so we can hire a lot more teens, buy more tools, and so we can keep producing healthy food for people who need it. Employees at MAP have to ask someone to sponsor their bowl. So if someone asks you to sponsor their bowl, just do it. That’s how you can donate to Bowl-A-Rama.

Donating to Bowl-A-Rama would help MAP a lot, with many things. I hope you are interested and willing to donate some cash to this great event. We would really appreciate it.

Queen City Kingpins made these awesome tee-shirts just for the event!

Buffalo's Food Policy Council

By Dabreon Darby

On May 21, 2013, the Erie County Board of Health voted unanimously to create the Food Policy Council of Buffalo and Erie County as a sub-commission of the Erie County Board of Health, the first of its kind in New York State. The Food Policy Council of Buffalo and Erie County brought the issue of bettering local food systems in Buffalo and Erie County to the forefront of food policy makers. The Food Policy Council of Buffalo and Erie County's main objective is to advise the Buffalo and Erie County legislatures and politicians on what decisions to make about local food policy in the region.

The Food Policy Council has just been put into effect earlier this year. They have only met once to decide on a what to do in the future. The Toronto Food Policy Council has been in existence longer  so they have already been working on policies and that’s what our Food Policy Council hopes to achieve in the near future.

The Toronto Food Policy Council is focused on food strategy, urban agriculture, and an agricultural committee to better local food systems in their area. Working with Sustain Ontario, the Toronto Food Policy Council had been advocating for a Local Food Act in Ontario. The Act was tabled in October of 2012, but on November 5 of this year, the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed the Local Food Act (Bill 36) and launched the new Local Food Fund.

The Local Food Act makes Ontario the first in Canada to adopt a bill aimed helping to increase awareness, access to, and demand for local food in the province, and support local food procurement in public sector institutions (schools, municipalities, hospitals, cafeterias) and getting a Street Food Update for Food Trucks. The Toronto Food Policy Council has been around much longer than the Food Policy Council of Buffalo and Erie County and are a good role model for what we want to accomplish in our region.

There are many ways to participate for the Food Policy Council of Buffalo and Erie County:
  • Become a Council Member
  • Become a Sub-Committee or Non-Voting Member
  • Support the Council through a local food systems advocate organization
Become a Council Member- The next application cycle will take place in March. Council members are volunteers and must attend four Food Policy Council meetings a year. People with experience in the food system (farmers, processors, retail) and those with interests in food issues (consumer concerns, food access, nutritional issues, etc) should apply.

Become a Sub-Committee or Non-Voting Member-  Sub-committee members assist the Food Policy Council on a project basis. Non-voting members have the opportunity to provide input on issues put before the Food Policy Council before they go to a vote.

Support the Council- Getting involved with a local group that advocates on behalf of food access and justice also helps support the Food Policy Council's goal of improving the local food system.

Learn more about Food Policy Councils at: