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Maire is Learning to Budget Her Money

By Maire

My profession during the budgeting workshop [provided by The Service Collaborative of WNY Opportunity Corps] was a barista and my salary was $1,900 a month. The challenges I had staying on budget were that I would overspend on things before I even paid my bills. The expenses I needed to watch more closely were gas and entertainment.

In comparison to how I manage my paycheck [in real life], it's completely different. I don't spend my paycheck at all, I just put it in my savings account. At the moment, I don't pay any bills.

To make sure I have enough money, I make certain that I save my money for anything really super important that I might have to buy. I also make sure I really want something before I buy it so that its not an impulse buy.

My Market Experience

By Win

My visit [to the Elmwood Bidwell Farmers Market] was very educational. I've been to markets like that when I was little, with my mom, but then we stopped. I used to love it because I personally love fruits and she would let me choose a quart box of anything I wanted and I would be the littlest, happiest girl in the world. So it was like a flashback and it was cool to see it again.

I learned about many different farms out there and what they did to care for their animals if they grew them and what they did for their crops. I learned many fruits and vegetables' seasons. It was pretty surprising to me. I saw many things I have never seen or eaten before in my life.

What surprised me was that an employee was very educated and filled in on the company/farm. She had an answer to every question we asked her except one. "What are some challenges you face?" She was only and employee so that's understandable. I didn't really have any expectations. It was overall a cool and educational trip to the market.  I would change the weather, add stone paths, and have water bowls for the dogs.

Sophia's Learning to Budget



By Sophia B

At the Budgeting Workshop [provided by The Service Collaborative of WNY Regional Opportunity Corps], my role was a cab driver. My salary was $2,235 per month which, event though I was single and no one depended on me, I had a hard time budgeting and saving money.

The challenge was whether to eat out or make my own meal. Even though I watched my budget carefully, I still didn't afford as much money as I wanted in my savings account.

The expenses that I had to watch more closely were entertainment and clothing.

I am able to manage my paycheck [in real life] because I don't have to pay rent or mortgage. When I need to make sure I have enough money for everything, I need to budget beforehand.

Messiah's Experience Budgeting Money


By Messiah M

Last week Monday, MAP had a Big Group Meeting (BGM). [Opportunity Corps members from The Service Collaborative of WNY visited]. We learned about budgeting money.

We had fake professions and salaries. We also had fake responsibilities and homes. My pay per month was $4,100. I rented a one bedroom apartment and rent was $1,600. I also had a vehicle I paid $450 per month for and I attended college so that was another $100 per month.

One of the challenges I had with this was trying to keep money to feed myself or have money after costs. I also wanted to be sure I was spending a lot on unnecessary things.

All of my expenses were good except somethings I thought I wouldn't spend as much money as I did.

Guess What Buffalo's First Commercial Enterprise Was



By Birch

This weekend, I took a trip to the farmers market. This is my second year interviewing the vendors at the Elmwood Bidwell Markers Market.

Last year, around this time, it was about as cold and consequently there were not as many people or vendors. Most weekends before they went indoors [for the season] there would be three vendors. They'd look up with shining hopeful eyes at a group coming over. We were tasked with crushing any glimmering dream of business under our pleasant little interview questionnaire. I expected this year to be more of the same. I was happily surprised when I got there because there were about nine vendors. I had a great time getting to know a guy from Black Squirrel Distillery. Despite the cold, he was energetic and cheerfully shared his business with a couple of teenagers. When we asked him what his biggest challenge was, he, after answering, told me and Mari what Buffalo's first commercial enterprise was: BOOZE!


Farmhouse Construction Week 3: A blanket of snow


Last week's snow storm coved the farm in a blanket of snow, hiding the mud and halting work for a few days. It's possible to work outside when it is snowing, or cold, or windy but not all three at once! While the storm raged, and icy wind blew, lots of planning happened. Construction projects in cities have many seen and unseen obstacle to plan for - electric lines (and poles!), tight building quarters, and unmapped potential sewer lines to name a few. 


For the farm, winter is a time for fields to rest. The ground is frozen, and we don't want to disturb the biota that lives within the soil structure. Below, recently planted garlic beds are insulated by the snow. Milder temperatures next week should mean activity will resume on the farm, with only a short break for Christmas.

Staying on Budget



By Levi

Last Monday, at MAP's weekly Big Group Meeting, we went over budgeting by pretending to have a career with expenses. [This activity was led by Regional Opportunity Corps Members from the Service Collaborative of WNY].

My profession was an accountant and I had a salary of $4,000 per month. Some of the challenges I had staying on budget were having to choose between luxury versus necessities, like buying new clothes or continuously going out for dinner. An expense that I need to watch more closely is my internet/cable bill which comes up to $200 a month!

What Surprised Me Most About the Farmers Market



By Cameron

My name is Cameron. When I went to the Elmwood Bidwell Farmers Market, my visit was good and bad.  It was cold and windy. Most people there were friendly, too. What I learned from going to the farmers market was there are many stands, different vendors, and not everything you would see at a grocery store. What I saw was a lot of fruits and vegetables, different farmers, and vegetables and fruits we grow at MAP. What surprised me the most was there were not a lot of things that are not in season. There were vendors who sold all the same things, mostly fruits and vegetables and there were only three meat vendors. My expectations weren't much, but I would like to see more vendors and different varieties. One thing I would do to attract more customers is to have a big sign saying, "Farmers Market." Secondly, sell things most people would buy and third, accept all payment forms.

My Visit to the Market Was Quite Interesting



By Ingabire

When we went to the Elmwood Bidwell Farmers Market, on Saturday, my visit was quite interesting. It's not my first time there but it was good to go back. The farmers market is always interesting because you never expect what you are going to see or who is going to be there. Every time I go to the farmers market, I learn that it's good to be considerate about what people want as a seller and, it's good to have labels [on your products] and also it's good to have a good presentation of your stand or market because those kinds of things are what makes the consumer come and consider what you are selling.

The thing that surprised me is that there were a lot more sellers than last time I went. I was expecting less like the last time but I saw more instead. The reason there were less last time I went there is because it was actually winter and the seasons are the most important thing that tends to affect farmers.

I wouldn't change much of anything to the farmers market, but if I had to, I would like them to always have free samples at each stand.


Farmhouse Construction Week 2: The farm landscape changes


Recognize this view looking into MAP's farm? The sidewalk leading into the farm was previously hiding under a foot of soil. (This explains why it was impossible to install trellis posts into the ground here!)


The farm landscape seems to change daily as the space is prepared for actual construction. During this initial phase of work a priority is protecting the farm's growing spaces and soil. For the most part this means putting up fencing and caution tape around spaces to keep people (and machines!) out. In some spaces we have moved the whole field to protect the soil. The photos above show the Mass-Ave field carefully being piled up so the high quality soil will not be trampled by cranes and trucks.


Eventually, there will be a driveway on the Shield Street side of the farm that will direct storm water into a large cistern. An 18 inch deep trough was dug to prepare for this, and we fenced off fields and trees to keep our growing spaces safe.



It may seem as though the farm is a big muddy mess right now - and that is totally true! Lots of soil has been relocated from the large area that soon will be the driveway to build up other areas of the farm. The photo below shows the area in front of the wash station, which will be a gravel loading area, and how much soil was built up around it.


Remember the big maple tree that had to be cut down? Wood chips from that tree are now spread around the perimeter of our Winter St field. The fine wood chips will breakdown over the winter, adding valuable nutrients and organic matter to our growing space.


The next steps of the construction project will start to put the messy space back together. The last piles of trash will be carted away - the amount of material taken away is mind boggling!), a new fence will be installed around the whole Mass-Ave property, and the building basement will be dug out. So, don't get used to how our farm looks right now, because it will all change before Christmas!


Isabella on a Teacher's Budget



By Isabella

At the budgeting workshop [provided by The Service Collaborative of WNY Opportunity Corps], I was a middle school teacher and I made $3,500 a month. The challenges of staying on budget was gas and things like food and clothes. I needed to watch extra expenses like heat and more closely.

This exercise compares to how I manage my paycheck [in real life] because I want to just save it for when I get older, but it's hard to not buy things I see in stores sometimes. I have no bills now so I just try not to spend a lot of money except when i'ts for necessities or something I really want.

Farmhouse Construction Week 1: Deconstruction


This fall construction to build MAP's new farmhouse commenced with deconstruction of the little pink house. In the month leading up to knocking it down all the salvageable materials were removed. 



Tearing the old house down happened one rainy morning in October. It took a backhoe a few hours to rip the building apart. 


Debris was cleared away the next day leaving such a small looking vacant lot. 

The projects next steps include cleaning up the farm landscape and installing a new fence. A major piece of this included removing the giant maple tree in the background of the photo above. You can see how the trunk of this beautiful, but giant, tree is significantly leaning to the left. If it fell down it would cause major damage to MAP's property, as well as the neighbors houses. 


Ingabire's NESAWG recap



By Ingabire A

On November tenth we took off from Buffalo to Connecticut for a NESAWG conference. This conference always takes place each year in a different state. You might ask yourself ‘what did we discuss at the conference?’ The concern is food justice. People from different states come together and meet with each other to discuss food system issues.

I was so excited because I’ve never been to Connecticut. So, my co-workers and I took a six hour drive but, it was fun because we talked, laughed and got to know each other more. We didn’t just drive, we had to take a lunch break and also bathroom break.

As we got in Connecticut I was thrilled to see how beautiful the city was. We booked a hotel to stay in so as soon as we got there we went to the hotel, it was a good hotel. We drove six hours as I said but as soon as we got to Connecticut we didn’t rest, we had to get ready to go to our first conference session, which was held in the Hilton building in the evening.

The first conference session we went to was the one they were talking about the people of color. Everybody said their opinions about what they think people of color meant and we had to share ideas of what we thought it meant. I noticed that everyone who attended the conference was really into it and they were eager to learn, and they were also friendly.

 My thoughts of what I thought about our first conference session are:

That it doesn’t matter where you are born or your color, what really matters is to accept people around you and know that even though you might be different we are all equal and the same. 

We spent forty five minutes in the people of color conference session and after we were done there we went to eat dinner. That was one fancy dinner I had for a while. After that we went to the hotel for the night.

The next conference session we went to in the morning was part of the Youth Track. I can say it was my favorite all five conference sessions I attended. There were youth from different organizations, as well as older people, but we all acted the same. We played games and got to know about each other and our organizations - we all had things in common we connected through food. I was so happy to meet those youth there because we came from different places. Some came from Ithaca NY, some from Brooklyn NY, Connecticut and others from Massachusetts and also Queens NY. It was so fun to find those youth there - we even followed each other on our social media.

At the conference I learnt about food justice, about the wicked problems that our foods go through in general. For more information I would advise you to go to the conference next year it will be held in Baltimore.

Thaint Talks with Weiss Farms at the Market



By Thaint T


The business I profiled is called Weiss Farm. There were three guys standing there and, at first, Dakota and I were scared to go up to them and ask questions. At first, they invited us to ask them questions but I saw that there were other customers. At their stand, they had grapes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers, gourds, acorn squash, apples, there's a lot! You can get their products at their farm stand and also the Lexington Food Co-op.
Image from Weiss Farm's facebook page
They told me the challenges they faced were bugs and weeds.

The workers/farmers there were really friendly. A lady came up to them and the guy greeted them with a, "Hello, ma'am." The products they have were presented so you can see everything, like it's not hidden in a corner.

During asking them questions, the guy cracked jokes and it made me laugh. It felt comfortable and fun.

Thaint’s NESAWG Recap

By Thaint T

On November 10th through the 12th my group, which was MAP Growing Green, and I went to Hartford, CT for the annual NESAWG 2016 conference. It was a long 6 hour drive from Buffalo, NY to Hartford, CT but we made it.

When I finally arrived, I went to my first session, which was the “colored people caucus.” There I had a partner to talk to about why we’re here and what we would like to learn from this NESAWG conference. Her name was Robyn and she went to Hamilton College. She told me that she was here because she had had road blocks with what she is doing and wanted tips from other people here to help get her through the road blocks.

Another session I went to was part of the youth track, the very first one the following day, November 11th. There, I just learned about what other youth organizations do in their own communities. I learned that a lot of them were similar to MAP, the organization that I’m a part of. They also have a farm/garden themselves that helps feed the people around their community.

Another session I went to was a youth talk. It was mainly about what problems youth believe that they have around their community and how or why they can change it. There, I met a youth that became my friend right away, her name was Davina, her and her organization is located in Ithica, NY, just 2 hours away from Buffalo. The problem she believes she has is that adults may seem to listen to youth but they never actually do. Davina wants adults to listen to youth more often.

To me, youth talks like these are what helps youth and adults connect and talk more often. That is why this youth talk was my favorite session of the conference, I interacted more with other youth and became friends with a few people. Not only did I interact with youth but I also interacted with adults. We just didn’t talk about problems and what we do, we also talked about our favorite candy to our favorite culturally traditional dish.

I would like to share that there are communities out there that are struggling with food and the access to it. I would like to share to Buffalonians that there are other organizations that are similar to MAP and have similar mission outside of Buffalo. From attending this conference I realized that people from outside of Buffalo care about food. I made connections and friends with other organizations. So, if MAP ever needs a helping hand, they’re only one call or email away. They can now be added to our stakeholder list as someone who supports our cause, project or mission. MAP is already doing a beautiful job, but it takes each other to become beautiful.

Tips for youth dealing with incidents of bias & discrimination


What can YOU do?

Here are some tips for dealing with racism and bias in your community. Remember, these are suggestions and you should only take on what you are comfortable with. Your safety is most important.

#1 ABOVE ALL ELSE: ENSURE YOUR SAFETY

If you want to report a crime or fear for your safety, call 911 immediately.

If a situation becomes violent or if you think it might, call 911 immediately.

#2 BUILD A COMMUNITY OF SUPPORT

Who can you talk to? Who makes you feel safe?

Who are your allies? Who is supportive in your community? At school? At home? In Buffalo?

Think about those people in your life and look to them for support. Make a mental list and challenge yourself to consult your allies when you need them.

MAP Youth should ALWAYS feel comfortable talking with any of the MAP staff. Call, text, or email whomever you are most comfortable reaching out to. We are here for you.

#3 DOCUMENT & REPORT

If you experience an incident in public, either directed at you or someone else, the first thing you can do is look for another adult. Acknowledge that adult as a witness. Ask them for help.

If you are comfortable doing so, ask the perpetrator to stop. Say something like, "That is not appropriate, please stop it."

If you are comfortable doing so, position yourself between the perpetrator and the victim. Offer a distraction. Try talking about something else or introducing yourself as someone friendly.

Remember, if you fear for your safety, call 911 immediately.

Document what is going on. Who is around? What is happening? Where are you?

What can you do afterwards? Report the incident. Sharing what happened will help our allies understand what is happening in our community.

Your Buffalo City Councilmember is your ally. Contact your local representative with details regarding incidents in your district. An email only takes a few minutes to send. All councilmembers' contact info and a map showing who your rep is can be found here:

https://www.ci.buffalo.ny.us/home/leadership/commoncouncil

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has initiated a state-wide toll-free hotline where people can report incidents of bias and discrimination. New York upholds the responsibility to protect all who are here, whether native-born or immigrant, whether documented or not. The hotline strengthens New York State's efforts. Contacting the hotline will not affect your immigration status.

New Yorkers who have experienced bias or discrimination should call the toll-free
hotline at (888) 392-3644 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.

The FBI investigates civil rights issues.

To file a color of law complaint, contact your local FBI office by telephone, in writing, or in person. The following information should be provided:
  • All identifying information for the victim(s);
  • As much identifying information as possible regarding the subject(s), including position, rank, and agency employed;
  • Date and time of incident;
  • Location of incident;
  • Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witness(es);
  • A complete chronology of events; and
  • Any report numbers and charges with respect to the incident.
The Buffalo FBI office is located at:

One FBI Plaza (behind City Hall)
Buffalo, NY 14202
(716) 856-7800

You may also contact the United States Attorney’s Office in your district or send a written complaint to:
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
Criminal Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20530