Buffalo Food System Panel at MAP

MAP youth working in our community garden space.
By Alexis S

Last week at MAP we held a panel so that leaders in the community involved in food justice had the opportunity to speak. These speakers included Derek Nichols from Grassroots Gardens of WNY, and one of the Lexington Co-op's produce managers, Eric.

The discussion consisted of Derek and Eric sharing their involvement in food and the community, then moving on to questions from the audience. Derek briefly spoke about his background, sharing his love for his grandmother's pierogies and awareness of food, while growing up in the country. Once Derek was older and lived in Buffalo, the cities shocking lack of fresh food availability moved Derek to get involved with the community.

He explained the process of starting a community garden with Grassroots. Basically, anyone interested in using free space in Buffalo for a community garden can contact Grassroots. Grassroots pays for the land if the space is available, and the person interested needs to have at least five people involved with the garden in order to get it started.

Derek also explained Grassroots Gardens involvement in getting nutritious food to the youth. Grassroots is partnered with over 20 schools in Buffalo, and helps build gardens at these schools, as well as providing healthier options and recipes for their lunches. Some of these options include kale salad and brussel sprouts to name a few.

On the other hand, Eric has recently started working with Lexington Co-op out of his interest in fresh food and healthy living. One great question that he answered was how Lexington Co-op helps customers of low income backgrounds. Eric explained that the cashiers have been trained how to handle food stamps, WIC and other forms of payment. Lexington also has a deal where people can buy food in bulk at a cheaper rate.

Overall, I enjoyed this panel very much, and found it very helpful. Hearing Derek space about the process of starting a community garden made me very interested in getting involved. I am not thinking about helping to make good use out of the vacant space in Buffalo, or at my school - the Park School. Taking these first steps to help the community is fun and I am excited to do more!

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