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Believe in Buffalo: Providence Farm Collective is empowering equitable access to food and farmland in Western New York

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Posted at 4:14 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 16:28:13-04

ORCHARD PARK (WKBW) — Drive down Burton Road in Orchard Park and you will find 37 acres of fertile land being farmed with great purpose at Providence Farm Collective.

"The level of poverty segregation and food insecurity called for us" says Kristin Heltman-Weiss, the Executive Director and President of Providence Farm Collective. "Our vision is empowering just and equitable access to food and farm land, and our mission to do that is through a grassroots led effort."

As part of that effort PFC provides farmers with a free plot of land and free irrigation, along with access to seeds, seedlings and tools.

"This place is great is so many ways," says Hamadi Ali, who is a Markets Manager at the farm. Ali is one of roughly 400 people from different backgrounds and several refugee communities expected to work the land at Providence Farm Collective this year.

"We grow foods that are traditional to us," says Ali. "If you go to the Somali-Bantu plot you will see East African Corn. You get the African Eggplants, bitter tomatoes."

Many people who farm at PFC live in either the east side or west side of Buffalo, areas that are long considered food deserts. Nelson Nagbe is originally from Liberia and says the access to land goes a long way. "This is very important because our parents were farmers, and we are taught to farm," says Nagbe. "Most of our food comes from what we plant, what we grow is what we eat."

In 2021 farmers at the Providence Food Collective produced more than 90-thousand pounds of fresh food for their families and communities and also collectively earned close to $30,000. PFC not only provides land and training for farmers, but also farming as a business workshops.

"PFC provides the seeds they they grow. They get the money and put it in their pocket to support their family", says Mahamud Mberwa, who is a farm mentor.

Providence Farm Collective is currently leasing the land the farm is on in Orchard Park but is currently running a capital campaign to purchase the land. The hope is that PFC will provide health and wellness for our community long-term. A kitchen and a family gathering pavilion are also planned as part of the campaign.

If you are interested in volunteering or donating to the amazing work being done at Providence Food Collective you can do so by visiting the PFC website.

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