The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc. installed a new outdoor Eco Garden in the spring of 2019. The Eco Garden fulfills part of the Botanical Gardens’ current strategic plan that outlines diversifying their program of green initiatives. With funding support from the Josephine Goodyear Foundation, PlantWNY, and private donors, the Eco Garden has come to fruition and now produces a large harvest of fresh vegetables and herbs that are donated to a local organization, Gerard Place.
The Eco Garden features a wide variety of vegetables and herbs, composting, vermiculture (an organic process of garden composting using worms), rain barrels and more. The garden is environmentally friendly and produces nutritional food, free of pesticides. Gerard Place provides housing for homeless single parents and their families and empowers those parents through education, employment, vocational training, life skills classes and counseling. Gerard Place has a huge need for fresh vegetables and herbs for the underserved population they assist on the East Side of Buffalo. Gerard Place is located in Bailey-Delevan neighborhood which is considered a food apartheid due to the absence of grocery stores within a five-mile radius. This results in a lack of healthy fruits and vegetables in this community which has very serious consequences with health and wellness in this community. To date, 180 pounds of fresh vegetables and herbs have been donated to Gerard Place from the Eco Garden.
“The Botanical Gardens is thrilled to collaborate with Gerard Place for the first time. The Eco Garden is a project our team has been working on for over two years and it is exciting to see this important project and garden come together. Not only are we expanding important green initiatives at the Botanical Gardens, we also created a wonderful collaboration with Gerard Place and are helping to fill a need in our community.” David Swarts, President/CEO of the Buffalo Botanical Gardens.
“We are very excited to partner with the Botanical Gardens to help ensure that families that come to our site will have the opportunity to take home healthy options for their meals. In addition to this initiative, we will implement health and nutrition classes for the community using this food and showing people how to cook, clean and store the fruits and vegetables. The food will be used in our dining hall which helps to feed people dinner, in our monthly food express line with our partnership with the Food Bank and we will offer the food to our Children's Academy parents who live in this community where food insecurity is their primary concern. We are so grateful to our community partners like the Botanical Gardens who will help us address this very serious issue.” David Zapfel, President/CEO of Gerard Place.
For more information about Gerard Place, visit their website at gerardplace.org. Gerard Place’s mission is to strengthen the community as it empowers individuals and families toward self-sufficiency by providing housing, supportive services, community education and outreach.