"You give them something to eat" – Jesus of Nazareth
Thursday, September 20
A large part of why 5 Loaves Farm first came to exist is because we wanted to grow healthy food and make it available to anyone in our neighborhood. The past six years has been a long slow process of learning how to get healthy foods to those that need it most. In the past two years, however, we have made significant steps forward; by listening to and learning from our neighbors.
This week, Seth Brown, our assistant farm manager, and Matt Kauffman, the farm manger, had the chance to visit a farm outside of Syracuse, NY run by refugees resettled from East Africa. We had the chance to see first hand the specific crops they are growing, their methods for growing them, and got to taste some of these new (to us) crops as they cooked them for us. We even came home with the seeds to grow in our own gardens!
Our neighborhood is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in all of New York State. Native Seneca people that have lived in the area for hundreds of years, descendants of the Italian immigrants that built up the neighborhood, Hispanic and African-American residents that flocked to northern urban areas during the last half of the last century, and refugees, resettled over the last decade or two, mostly from Southeast Asia, East Africa, and the Middle East, all call the West Side of Buffalo home. Even gentrifying urban ex-pats are now currently flooding the neighborhood. Just as you see great diversity in colors and patterns of clothing our neighbors wear, we’ve also found just as many different tastes and preferences in foods. These foods are all flavored by fresh herbs and produce that is specific to their ancestral region.
5LF set up shop here to bring people together around food, but if the only food you’re offering people is the kind of food you like, only people like you are going to come and get it – which over our first few years has been what we’ve experienced. So we, and Seth especially, set out with the mission to collect, learn, grow, harvest and eventually even cook, the foods that have been a part of creating culture for each of these different people groups. This year we dedicated more garden space to grow things we’ve never grown before, and dedicated more time to interact with and learn from friends from around the world so that we can perfect the art of growing these traditional foods. We’ve set up a farm stand right at our farm site (the corner of Dewitt & W. Delavan) on Fridays from 2-4pm, and we’ve partnered with the Farmer’s Market Federation to be able to accept WIC checks so that this food is accessible to more and more people. It’s exciting to have our neighbors hunting us down, looking for those crops and foods that remind them of home, and give them a bit of their culture back.
5LF wants to be a cultural hub at the center of a thriving diverse community, bringing all types of people together to learn from and enjoy each other. Our hope is that our Celebrate the Harvest party on Oct. 7 from 2-5pm is the kind of gathering that does just this. Last year we featured hominy soup, made with traditional native American corn varieties, as well as fish and roselle soup, made by a Karen woman. We had rice, beans, and desserts made by our Hispanic friends, and classic fall soups, like Italian Beans & Greens, and Cheddar & Broccoli. So we hope you’ll come see what our neighbors cook up this year. Come out to learn more about what makes our neighborhood special and learn more about your role in all of it!