Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski, Kirstan Conley 518-457-0752

August 16, 2018

New York State Announces Community Growers Grant Awards

$500,000 Awarded to Nearly Two Dozen Organizations to Expand Community-Based Agriculture Across the State

Projects Will Improve Access to Fresh, Wholesome Foods, Promote Community Engagement, and Enhance Agricultural Education Opportunities

Builds on State’s Commitment to End Hunger Statewide and Create More Growing Spaces in High-Need Communities

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets today announced $500,000 was awarded to nearly two dozen partner organizations through the Community Growers Grant Program to develop and enhance community gardens, school gardens and urban farms across the state. These growing sites play a fundamental role in the fight against hunger while supporting proper nutrition, educational opportunities and community engagement.

Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Local growing sites are impactful on our communities, serving as great sources of fresh fruits and vegetables and education about agriculture.  They’re also a way to connect residents, beautify neighborhoods and combat hunger in underserved areas.  I am so pleased to see the care and pride that New Yorkers have in growing their own food and the passion our partner organizations have in feeding our residents.  These grants will go a long way in providing the boost that many need to maintain or expand their growing sites and continue to serve the needs of their communities.”

The Community Growers Grant Program was created, in consultation with the New York State Community Gardens Work Group, to provide resources for the continued growth and sustainability of these growing spaces, and to improve food security and access to nutritious, healthy food, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.  There are more than 1,000 community, school and urban gardens throughout New York State.  

The grant funding provides resources and capital to support the increasing number of community growing spaces in both urban and rural areas.  It will help support additional capacity and infrastructure to meet the high demand for these locations statewide. 

Western NY

Massachusetts Avenue Project (Erie County) - $25,000: Funding will help expand the food production capacity of Massachusetts Avenue Project’s (MAP) urban farm, and its food and agriculture-based community education.  It will also help increase access to healthy, affordable food and enhance job training opportunities in agriculture and food systems for youth.

Buffalo Go Green Inc. (Erie County) - $25,000: Funding will be used to secure a raised bed area with proper fencing to protect crops, and for a new hoop house and irrigation system.  It will also allow Buffalo Go Green to hire a Farm Manager to oversee the site, and provide hands-on learning for various organizations, groups, individuals and families.

Journey’s End Refugee Services, Inc. (Erie County) - $24,976: Funding will help ensure the long-term sustainability of the farm at Journey’s End Refugee Services (JERS) by increasing growing space and efficiency to promote greater yield, and increase community involvement on the farm.

Finger Lakes

Foodlink Inc. (Monroe County) - $25,000: Funding will help build the necessary infrastructure to increase community garden membership and overall production at the Lexington Avenue Urban Farm (LAUF).  It will also allow Foodlink to host Edible Education programming at LAUF, and support pollinator habitat and foraging.

Capital Region

Kite’s Nest, Inc. (Columbia County) - $25,000: Funding will support the North Bay ReGeneration Project, which includes the River City Garden—a community garden hosting 25 neighborhood families; free, hands-on education programming for kids of all ages; and a youth-run greenhouse, providing leadership development, job training, and employment opportunities in sustainable agriculture and food business planning.

Capital Roots Inc. (Rensselaer County) - $25,000: Funding will help replace broken fencing at the Rensselaer Family Garden, replace the shed at the Swift and 7th Street Garden, and install a new water spigot at the 8th Street Garden and the V&5 Garden.  Capital Roots will also purchase a new mower to ensure that all gardens are fully functioning community assets, and make infrastructure improvements to gardens that have been operating for 25 to 30 years.

Mohawk Valley

City of Oneonta (Otsego County) - $25,000: Funding will expand the City of Oneonta Community Garden to include a handicap accessible area; install reinforced fencing; extend the currently limited water system throughout the garden; add a shed and new communal gardening equipment; add an improved heavy-duty composting bin; and add new picnic tables and benches to host educational activities and workshops.

Southern Tier

Broome County Cornell Cooperative Extension (Broome County) - $10,617: Funding will support renovations to the Cutler Botanic Gardens, including replacing fencing, improving the walkway, and adding and replacing raised beds.

New York City

International Rescue Committee (IRC) Inc. (Bronx County) - $25,000:  Funding will help the IRC to run a weekly, SNAP-accessible farmers’ market from July through October, create job training opportunities for 15 refugees, immigrants, and other South Bronx residents, and support food production for market, community gardeners, and the local community.

Added Value & Herban Solutions (Kings County) - $25,000:  Funding will help increase access to produce grown on the farm by Red Hook Houses residents— particularly those in the East Houses; engage visitors to community institutions on the east side of the neighborhood; promote healthy eating; and increase neighborhood residents’ exposure to different fruits and vegetables.

Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, Inc. (Kings County) - $25,000: Funding will provide for the implementation and long-term operation of a new aquaponics greenhouse growing system at Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger’s Saratoga Farm in Bedford Stuyvesant.

United Community Centers, Inc. (Kings County) - $25,000: This project will allow East New York Farms to provide more technical assistance to local gardeners in an effort to grow farmers’ markets and improve access to healthy foods in an underserved area of Brooklyn.

Council on the Environment (New York County) - $25,000: Funding will support mini-grant funding for four schools located in the District Public Health Office (DPHO) neighborhoods to start or expand an existing garden program.  GrowNYC will oversee the project, provide material, technical and educational assistance, and train elementary school teachers to utilize Seed to Plate curriculum and participate in the Garden to Café program.

Green Guerillas Inc. (New York County) - $23,760 – Engage in the Harvest for Neighborhoods Campaign to support community growing activities in 10 Bronx and Manhattan Land Trust food-growing community gardens.

Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society of Bellerose, Inc. (Queens County) - $14,000: Funding will support the expansion of growing space at the Queens County Farm Museum.

Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement (Queens County) - $24,450: Funding will support Ravenswood youth participants and the Urban Soil facilitators in creating a learning and growing community garden at the Ravenswood Cornerstone site.

Queens Community House (Queens County) - $23,210: Funding will help expand infrastructure and build the capacity of residents in the Pomonok Houses, a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) public housing development in northeastern Queens, to grow their own food.

Hudson Valley

Dutchess County Cornell Cooperative Extension (Dutchess County) - $21,741: Funding will help increase the area of cultivated, food-producing land that Green Teen’s urban youth employees farm from 800 square feet to 3,200 square feet, increasing production of produce by 100 percent in the first year.

Poughkeepsie Farm Project (Dutchess County) - $25,000:  Funding will support Seeds of the Food System (SFS), a three-part program that improves access to healthy locally grown food through education and produce donations.

The Young Men’s Christian Association of Kingston and Ulster County (Ulster County) - $24,480: Funding will help sustain and strengthen the Kingston YMCA Farm Project.

Groundwork Hudson Valley (Westchester County) - $23,007:  Funding will support the development of a community garden in the Lawrence Street neighborhood of Yonkers. It will also allow the Yonkers Greenway Park and Community gardens to focus on community health needs.

Long Island

Sisters of Saint Joseph, Brentwood, NY (Suffolk County) - $5,721: Funding will enhance current community gardens and garden education programs, including expansion and maintenance.

This grant program complements the Department’s ongoing efforts to provide technical assistance to community growing organizations statewide.  Through its Community Garden Program, the Department helps identify vacant public land for community gardening purposes, connects community groups and state or local agencies to facilitate the use of vacant properties for community gardens, and directs gardeners to resources in their communities.

Senator Jeffrey Klein said, “Community gardens, school gardens and urban farms are a great way to provide New Yorkers with locally grown, healthy fruits and vegetables. In low income areas, where it can be difficult for residents to access fresh produce, they are especially important. I'm pleased that nearly two dozen organizations have been awarded grants through the Community Growers Grant Program, and I hope that more people will apply so that we can continue to see its growth."

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair, Assemblyman Bill Magee, said, “Community gardens have many benefits for our neighborhoods. The cultivation of food is a satisfying experience involving physical activity, coordination and camaraderie which leads to a bountiful reward of healthy, fresh foods to share and I wholeheartedly support this productive use of open space among neighbors.”

Ending Hunger in New York State
Since Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, the state has implemented several programs, policies and legislation to bring hunger relief to thousands of New Yorkers.  In 2016, Governor Cuomo created the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy to establish a permanent focus on fighting hunger in New York.  The Council’s mission is to identify new policies and programs that enhance the state’s efforts to improve nutrition and the availability of fresh, locally grown foods for New Yorkers living in communities with limited access. 

Most recently, as part of the comprehensive Vital Brooklyn initiative, the Governor announced actions to increase Central Brooklyn's access to healthy food through a $1.825 million investment in 31 mobile markets, 12 youth-run farmers' markets, the launch of a pilot food insecurity screening program for seniors, and a food distribution hub siting study.

The Governor also unveiled, this year, a five-point plan to provide students of all ages greater access to healthy meal options.  The ‘No Student Goes Hungry’ initiative expands the State’s Farm-to-School program, increases reimbursements for schools that source at least 30 percent of their food from New York farms, bans lunch shaming, expands access to free breakfast, and requires food pantries on all SUNY and CUNY campuses. 

In addition, the State has expanded its FreshConnect Checks and Farmers’ Market Nutrition program to bring more fresh, local foods to underserved communities and increase the buying power of SNAP recipients.  The state has also developed procurement guidelines to assist state agencies in purchasing local foods and invested $15 million to build a state-of-the-art Greenmarket Regional Food Hub in the South Bronx.

About the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets 
The Department, through its various divisions and programs, promotes New York agriculture and its high-quality, diverse products, fosters agricultural environmental stewardship, provides consumer protections, and safeguards the State’s food supply, land, plants and livestock to ensure the viability and growth of New York’s agriculture industries.

The Department operates the Great New York State Fair, and administers the Taste NY initiative, the FreshConnect and New York State Grown & Certified programs. Follow the Department on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

2018 Press Releases