ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — 16 farms, 250 farmers and thousands of hungry mouths to feed.
“Our farmers are actually living in USDA food deserts with limited access to fresh and affordable food and limited access to culturally relevant food,” Director of Development at Providence Farm Collective Bari Zeiger said.
Zeiger says the providence farm collective brings together immigrant, refugee and underserved communities to help teach and support them.
“There has to be a call to action to uplift communities of color who have incredible skills in agriculture and actually insure they can be stewards of land, have land ownership,” Zeiger said.
In mid-May they gained access to 37 acres of land. They farm on 15 of those acres right now and have produced more than 55,000 pounds of food in just over four months. Marketing manager Hamadi Ali says their farms grow food native to their homelands.
“When we arrived in this county, you go to the supermarket and look around and don’t find what you’re looking for,” Ali said.
This farm is the only one in the state, for example, that grows African Maize. Now providence farm collective is partnering with the Western New York land conservancy to ensure the longevity of the land.
“It can never become that gas station or that strip mall and that’s really important in succession planning for the future generation of farmers,” Zeiger said.
Their goal is to raise $2.3 million dollars by December 31, 2022, for land purchase and property improvements. They need at least half a million dollars just to buy the land.
“It’s not a drop in the ocean, it’s a big amount of money,” Zeiger said. “There are tensions throughout the world and here is a place where we can come together and have communion over food and farming.”
“My favorite part is meeting other communities and helping these communities,” Ali said.
If you’re interested in supporting the farm and helping them reach their $2.3 million goal, there are a few ways you can help:
- You can write them a check to ‘WNY Land Conservancy’ with ‘Providence Farm Collective’ in the memo line.
- They’re having a fundraiser September 28; 50 tickets are available for purchase online.
- In October they will have a Christmas tree fundraiser.