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. Because food plays such an important role in culture, providing access also means providing culturally relevant foods to our neighbors. Over the past four years we’ve been learning & experimenting with growing these cultural crops, and last fall, as part of the United Way’s Pitch 10 competition, we were awarded funding to create new garden space specifically for growing these crops. This spring we were able to construct the first half of the garden, but on Saturday, September 19th, we’re looking for a group of people to help us complete this project.
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 past 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.
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 during his first year on the farm, back in 2016, staff member Seth Brown 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 many of the different people groups in our neighborhood. 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 set up a farm stand right at our farm site (the corner of Dewitt & W. Delavan) on Friday afternoons, and 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 hunt us down, looking for those crops and foods that represent a taste of home, and give them a bit of their culture back.
Two years ago, some of our farm staff also 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!
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. So we would appreciate your help on Saturday, September 19th at 11am, helping us plow up and move the soil needed to complete this project that allows us to expand growing these important, healthy foods, and help our neighbors reclaim a taste of home!