Meet Our Team
Jeanette Koncikowski joined Grassroots Gardens of Western New York in May 2018. She is a long-time community educator and activist, bringing almost 20 years of experience with nonprofit organizations such as the Center for Development of Human Services, Crisis Services of Buffalo and Erie County and the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. She also co-founded Prevention Educators, a community education collaborative that trained thousands of youth, parents, and professionals on topics related to violence prevention and social justice. Jeanette also spent five years as the Western New York Community Leader for Change for Breast Cancer Action, where she fought to bring attention to the link between Buffalo’s high cancer rates and environmental toxins. Jeanette is thrilled to be combining her personal passion for gardening with community development. She is focused on building Grassroots Gardens’ organizational capacity and sustainability.
Jeanette believes it is essential that all neighborhoods and families in Buffalo Niagara benefit from our region’s revitalization and that everyone has a right to healthy, affordable and accessible food. Community gardens should be the cornerstones of such efforts as they provide nourishment for our bodies and spirits. Jeanette is a graduate of Hutch Tech High School and the University at Buffalo. She received her Master’s degree in Education from Harvard University, specializing in human development and psychology. She is the proud mother of two resilient girls, two rescued Shih Tzus, and an ever-growing collection of houseplants and heirloom vegetable beds.
Jeanette can be reached at
Community Garden Trainer
Emere Nieves joined our staff in March 2020 in the new position of Community Garden Trainer. A Buffalo native, she's been an active community gardener since 2013 when she started volunteering with Buffalo in Bloom at Niagara Square. The following year, she completed her Master Gardener training and remained an active volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension from 2014-2019. She studied Physical Geography and Environmental Science at Buffalo State College. Prior to her new role at GGWNY, Eme was the Specialty Gardener for Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, managing and developing some of Buffalo’s favorite ornamental, public gardens.
Eme says, "Working in the public gardens raised my awareness of the positive effects they have on our communities and humanity. My first home garden was a vegetable garden. Working with GGWNY is reconnecting me with my roots to grow healthy food and support our community."
Eme can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Garden Education Coordinator
Greg joined Grassroots Gardens WNY in the spring of 2017 as the school garden coordinator. He has a bachelors degree in adolescent education and has been an avid gardener for many years. In 2014 he purchased an empty lot at the city foreclosure auction and transformed it into a garden where he grows fruits, vegetables, and perennial flowers. He enjoys how gardens can be effective conversation starters as a way to build positive relationships within the neighborhood. Outside of gardening, Greg is active in the local cycling community and helps to promote alternative forms of transportation with Go Bike Buffalo. For recreation, he loves spending time hiking and camping, especially in the Adirondacks. He also unsuccessfully tries to be a fisherman, but enjoys it nonetheless.
Greg can be reached at
Garden Operations and Outreach Assistant
Graceanne joined GGWNY as an intern in the summer of 2019, and didn’t know much about gardening—she’d unintentionally killed every plant she’d ever had. After spending the 3 months honing her skills on a small farm in Ireland, she rejoined us in the new position of Garden Operations and Outreach Assistant. Having grown up down the street from our Broadway office, she’s excited to help combat food insecurity in Buffalo. She loves yoga, rugby, and travel, and plans to spend more time farming abroad.
Graceanne can be reached at
Accessibility Task Force Coordinator
Founder of the Victoria Avenue Community Garden, longtime Grassroots gardener, and retired educator, Gerldine leads our Accessibility Initiative and "Gardening for All" Task Force. The goal of the community-led task force is to evaluate barriers to universal access to our community garden network. Gerldine and the task force will then make recommendations for modifications and improvements over the next few years. The task force has also held trainings on advancing cultural competency and accessibility. Gerldine is a community activist by nature, and believes "everybody speaks dirt."
Gail is the long-time Lead Gardener for the Jesse Clipper Park (the only Grassroots Garden + city park) at Michigan and William, which is stewarded by the CopperTown Block Club. Gail joined GGWNY to "bring the beauty of nature into urban spaces. What brings me joy is seeing butterflies, bees and birds in urban gardens." Gail will be working with two of our school gardens to teach the children about the connection between African American history and environmental justice and also working with the Block Club on pesticide reduction, stormwater management practices and native plants. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting collaboration with the Buffalo Sewer Authority, CopperTown Block Club, Push Buffalo, School 31 & 32, WNY-Urban Arts Collective, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and Grassroots Gardens.
Therapeutic Gardening Coordinator
Casie joins us through a placement with the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, where she is currently completing a Master of Social Work degree. Prior to joining Grassroots Gardens, she worked with individuals experiencing homelessness, developed and coordinated a volunteer recruitment and outreach program during an AmeriCorps service year, and has served youth ages 8-18 from under-resourced communities throughout New York City and Western New York at a summer residential program in central New York. Her time working in youth development demonstrated the significant role one’s environment plays in providing support and healing, which is why she is excited to join the GGWNY team. Casie considers herself a nature enthusiast and loves to hike, camp, and kayak.
Grassroots Gardens couldn't thrive without the dedication of our strong, working board. Each member shares time each week to support our growth.
Our 2020 Board Officers:
PRESIDENT: Ellen Barnum
VICE PRESIDENT: Bob Doyle
TREASURER: Kristin Re
SECRETARY: Minesh Patel
Members at Large:
Gail Graham | Board Member Emeritus
*Interested in becoming a board or committee member with GGWNY? Contact to learn more.