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Giving the gift of gardening to people in areas most impacted by COVID-19

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Posted at 6:34 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 18:34:33-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Freedom Garden Project is a grassroots effort, helping establish home gardens in communities with high rates of COVID-19.

There was an overwhelming response with more than 300 applications for the 50 free gardens available. The project was spearheaded by a coalition of groups including Grassroots Gardens WNY, Seeding Resilience, and the Juneteenth Festival of Buffalo.

Larry Garrison, was one of the recipients. Garrison was already growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, but said the Buffalo Freedom Garden Project helped him expand his produce.

“The important part about growing is the seeds," Garrison said. "If you have quality seeds then the seeds will germinate then you’ll have a good crop, and freedom garden offered the quality, seeds better than the ones that I was purchasing.”

Recipients received a gardening bed, tools, soil, and a Zoom workshop on how to garden. The seven eligible zip-codes account for nearly 30% of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Erie County. Gail Wells is the project founder.

“Food makes you healthy, we need to build up people’s immune system, we need to deal with some of the problems that exist in these neighborhood around lack of food, access to food, access to healthy nutritious food," Wells said.

The project isn't just about healthy food, Wells said gardening is a family activity, can improve mental health, and beautify a neighborhood. She also said growing produce is more cost effective than buying it.