Harvesting peppers and onions

How to harvest green beans

By Pepper, Daniel and Yeishalie

Checking in with Birch

Birch K

Hi my name is Birch! I am 16 years old and I have been working at MAP since the summer of 2015. I go to City Honors. I spend most of my time photographing, hanging with friends, and listening to NPR. Choosing a favorite food stresses me out so… we not gonna go there. The Very Best part of working for MAP are the trips we go on. Whenever we go somewhere I meet incredible people. I’m excited to work in the kitchen all summer and expand my skills.

Meet Aking!

Aking M

Three major parts of my identity are music, peace and creativity. They are important to me because without music I would have no peace, and if I have no peace my mind cannot think creatively. Each respect of my personality has its role in balancing my life. In my free time I like to play the guitar or play basketball. My favorite food is mac n’ cheese. I like it because it’s so cheesy and warm and gooey. The best part about working at MAP so far is the games and the farm tour when we indulged in cherries. My plans for the summer and fall are working, publishing my book and getting out of high school.

Meet Nina!

Nina A

My name is Nina. I was born in April. I’m going to be a freshman next year. I live with 8 people – 4 sisters, 2 brothers and my parents. They are crazy, but I don’t even care. I was born in Congo with my other siblings. We came to the United States in 2013. I started working at MAP this year. I’m really interested in people who need help, like sick people. When I grow up I want to be a doctor and travel all around the world helping people.

Checking in with Maire!

By Maire E

I have just graduated from Leonardo Da Vinci high school. Three major parts of my identity are my friends, family and my passions. These are important to me because they have made me the person I am today. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my friends, family, riding my bike and sleeping. I don’t have a lot of free time because I have two jobs.  My favorite food is sushi because it’s just really good. The best part so far about working at MAP would have to be all the opportunities to do things such as the Climate March in Washington DC and all the people I’ve met. My plans for the rest of the summer are to work, go to concerts and go camping. Then, once fall comes I’m going to college and SUNY ESF and will be majoring in conservation biology.

In the garden - summer 2017

We have had an abundance of rain in western New York and very few hot sunny days. These conditions, combined with the mild winter means insect populations have been high all season. Our biggest vegetable predator this year has been flea beetles. In past years these tiny black beetles have been a mild inconvenience to the appearance to our brassica crops (cabbage, kale, radish, and arugula to name a few). However, this year any brassicas without protect from row cover are nibbled quickly to death by the beetles. One of our garden beds is permanently covered with hoops and spun bonded row cover to keep the flea beetles off our arugula and tender asian greens. 

This week's menu: Feast of Olympus

This week the first summer fruits were ready to harvest from the youth garden. Long yellow peppers, green beans, arugula and fresh basil were all harvested for our weekly summer lunch. These fresh vegetables steered our menu to a Mediterranean and Greek god theme.

 Zeus’s Thunder Chicken Gyros 

Dakota as the main chef behind this delectable dish. She chopped chicken breasts into small pieces and marinaded them in oil, paprika with garlic and oregano from the garden. After a few hours she salted the chicken in a hot pan with oil. The chicken was served with Tzatziki sauce made with dill and cucumber from the youth garden. 

Hermes Hummus 

Hummus was a second protein option so vegetarians, vegans and hummus lovers could have a balanced meal.


Baking is a tricky and difficult task, especially during the middle of July. Maire and Thant took on the challenge. They followed this recipe and made pita bread from scratch to eat with hummus or Tzatiki.

Gaia’s green beans

Gaia is the mother of all Earth. We named our green bean dish after her because bean plants give nitrogen back to the Earth, which helps future plants grow. We sautéed our beans grown in the garden with olive oil, garlic and green onions.

Apollo's Dressing

This week our salad was composed of green and red lettuce, spicy arugula and the last peas of the season. It was dressed with a tangy, summery lemon based dressing.

Athena's Cake

To finished the meal we had lemon and them cake with blueberries. Baker Birch took the lead on this creation. She was careful not to over mix the delicate batter. Once the cakes were cooled, she drenched them in a lemon juice and sugar glaze that tasted just like lemonade.

This week's menu: Viva la Revolution!

Louis XVI’s Chicken or Marie Antoinette’s Tofu Stir Fry

Made with garlic and chilies from the youth garden.

Garden at Versailles

Made with lettuce, peas and swiss chard from the youth garden.

Declaration of the Rice of Man and of the Citizen

Made with chilis, cilantro and garlic from the Youth Garden.

Salad with a National Assembly of Dressing

Made with Tokyo Bekana from the Youth Garden.

Sacrebleu-berry Delight

Our second summer lunch this year happened to fall on Bastille Day. The vegetables available from our Youth Garden didn't lend themselves to creating a meal based on French cuisine, so we named each dish after a part of the French Revolution.

What consitutes a good meal?

By Girard M

What constitutes a good meal? It may entail fresh veggies arranged around a piece of mouthwatering rib-eye with some roasted potatoes on the side, or maybe you’d simply prefer a sandwich. Whatever your ideal meal is, imagine having healthy food that clearly displays where it is grown, gives intimate details about how it is grown, how the food workers are treated, and how it’s benefitting the local economy. This vision is not so far out of reach, and is on its way to becoming a fantastic reality for multiple cities around the USA.

The LA Food Council spear headed this new food system initiative and it’s called the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP). There are several up and coming food programs in the US, but the GFPP is the most comprehensive of them all because it has five core values that it abides by.

Those five values are: (1) supporting local economy, (2) environmental sustainability, (3) nutrition, (4) animal welfare, and (5) a valued workforce.

It seems nearly impossible to say “No” to something as great as the GFPP. What really needs to happen is that community organizations, volunteer groups, the public, students, institutions, politicians, and other activist groups must ban together in order to give their full support for the Good Food Purchasing Program’s implementation into institutions within Buffalo.

The institution that is most thought of when discussing the GFPP is Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) because that is where there would be the greatest impact. Sometimes students will go to school without eating breakfast, due to family income or because they may live in a “food desert.” BPS has a free breakfast and lunch program, but from what I have heard the food could be healthier.

The GFPP wants to change how major institutions obtain their food, and it is a realistic and timely goal if enough people get involved. The public and major institutions have the purchasing power to reshape the food system that we all have grown to know, but not so much love.

Stakeholder Document for GFPP

By Acour D

The health and well being of youth in school is crucial to their progress as students and soon, contributive members of society. If we in Buffalo hope to excel and play a role in shaping the formation of this country, it all starts in our schools and what we put into the bodies of our students; in terms of both knowledge and food.

The Good Food Purchasing Program seeks to improve the overall nutrition options within the Buffalo Public School systems. It’s core values and mission are: improving the value of the workforce in food systems, the welfare of animals used for food, nutritional options, building a sustainable environment, and the local economy.

The first step is to let people know that such an option exists. That’s why we think it’s important that all Buffalo news stations and outlets broadcast and share this info to their communities. If we, the people, parents, students are not aware that such an opportunity exists, we are doomed to repeat the cycle that continuously produces tired, malnourished, disengaged students.

What we have right now isn’t working in the best interests of all students and families. If we wish to see change, then we must ourselves become that agent of change.

Improving student's health through food

By Neena H

After close examination of the overall health and well being of students in the Buffalo Public Schools, it is evident that theirs a need for change. Students having low test scores, lack of motivation and trouble focusing have all been the result of poor nutrition. At home some children aren’t getting the necessary nutrients they need to thrive at school and because of this are falling short. To combat this issue and issues of food security The Good Food Purchasing Program has provided schools with fresh local produce and new and improved menus. The GFPP first started in LA but has made its way to various cities and now we hope to adopted in here in Buffalo. The GFPP tackles issues in the food system through five areas:
  1. local economies
  2. environmental sustainability 
  3. valid work force 
  4. animal welfare and 
  5. nutrition
By bringing this organization to Buffalo we intend to improve not only the health of the students but the health of the community. Please come join us in having an impact on these kids lives.

Advocating for the GFPP in Buffalo

By Peter R

Studies show that a nutritious diet during the school day can lead to increased focus and performance in class. The current food climate within the Buffalo Public Schools does not provide the necessary nutrition, nor encourages healthy eating. As a former BPS student, I know first-hand the unappetizing, not-so-fresh fruits and vegetables we were served to meet health requirements.

There is a current initiative in the Buffalo Public Schools called the Buffalo Farm to School initiative, which sources local fresh vegetables in lunched. While this is a step in the right direction, the initiative does not go far enough. A recently developed program, call the Good Food Purchasing Program, is a comprehensive plan to create an entirely new food atmosphere in schools across the country.

The GFPP is slightly more expensive than the current food budget, but the program helps in this regard by subsidizing the first few years of the program (to ease the transition), and having a team available to help further look at finding a better financial plan. In addition, the long-term effects of implementing the GFPP could lead to reduced costs in other areas such as school health and extra academic help programs.

With all of this in consideration, I believe that the GFPP could reshape the Buffalo Public Schools food system for the better.

Dillon returns to MAP as a team leader this summer!

My name is Dillon Hill; I have worked at MAP since I was fourteen. I am twenty now and I go to Buffalo State College. I have been working at MAP for some time now and I believe that I have been here longer than everyone except Diane. I personally believe I am a poor writer and that I work much better with my hands. I also think I am a quieter person, who will listen and share my input where I see fit. I enjoy working at MAP because I meet new people, who share with me new ideas, food, and interests. Working here at MAP has allowed me to develop my work skills, my people skills, my personality, and my interests.

Meet Acour, our Farm to Table Coordinator this summer!

My name is Acour. I am 20 years old, from South Sudan, and I moved to the states at the age of 5. I was raised in Buffalo, attending St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and currently enrolled at as a junior at SUNY Buffalo State, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a minor in religious studies. My favorite hobbies are playing videogames, basketball (NBA 2k when I want to combine the two) and watching anime.

I’m working at MAP this summer because I love food and building real connections with people. Being exposed the other youth employees and my coworkers at MAP that come from a variety of different backgrounds will help me further understand the empowerment that comes from living in a diverse community. MAP allows me to combine my passion for food and desire to establish long trusting relationships so that I can one day use these skills to help better my community and ultimately shape the world we live in.

This week's menu: Around the World in Five Dishes

Chicken with Herb Sauce 

Made with chives, parsley, rosemary and thyme from the youth garden. Based on this recipe.

Stir Fried Peas and Pea Shoots

Made with pea shoots from the youth garden. Pea pods and garlic scapes from the Mobile Market
Adapted from this recipe.


Topped with rosemary from the Youth Garden.
 From Simply in Season.

Peas mo' Lettuce

Red leaf lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard from the Youth Garden.
Japanese salad dressing from Moosewood Cooks for a crowd, see below for the recipe.

Strawberry Cobbler

Based on this recipe.

This week our wonderful team leaders cooked the first summer lunch of the year. Their menu was inspired by local produce available in early summer in Western New York: peas, garlic scapes, salad greens and strawberries.

Japanese Dressing 

  • 4 garlic scapes 
  • 1/3 cup grated ginger
  • 1 tsp powdered mustard
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • pepper to taste
Add all ingredients except vegetable oil to blender and blend. Slowly add in the vegetable oil until dressing is smooth and thickened.

Neena returns to MAP this summer as a Team Leader!

Hello, my name is Neena and I’m a sophomore at Syracuse University. This will be my fourth summer working at map. Previously I’ve been a Growing Green youth, Mobile Market Specialist, Community Organizing Specialist and now I’m and Able Team Leader. Throughout my years working at MAP I’ve grown a passion for food justice and hope to work in this field once I’ve graduated from Syracuse University. I want to someday live in a world where food insecurity doesn’t exist, but until then I plan to work with individuals, policy makers, government and organizations such as MAP to strive towards this goal. This summer I look forward to meeting all the new youth. I can’t wait to see how this experience impacts them.

Peter returns to MAP as a Team Leader!

Hi! My name is Peter Ruch and I am going to be a sophomore at Cornell University next fall. I love the going hiking, canoeing and camping. I like to play sports, such as basketball, soccer and biking.

This is my second year working at the Massachusetts Avenue Project and this summer, I am an ABLE Team Leader. I love working at MAP because food injustice and food insecurity are huge issues in the world, and MAP’s mission really looks to end food deserts while employing youth from the community they serve. The work is fun, engaging and educating.

As a Team Leader I am looking forward to meeting and engaging with the new youth, having a positive impact on my community, and making lifelong memories like I did last summer.