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
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
Niagara Falls Outreach Coordinator
Maggie Rapp is our newest GGWNY team member, joining our staff in August 2019 as our Niagara Falls Outreach Coordinator. She is currently serving with Americorps VISTA and her primary role here will be to build our capacity to better support our Niagara Falls member gardens. Maggie recently graduated from SUNY Geneseo in December 2018 with a dual degree in Geography and Anthropology. She his excited to be part of a national movement focusing on food access and justice for everyone. We know Maggie's passion for nature and community well-being will make an impact in Niagara Falls.
In her spare time she loves taking and editing her own photography. Any chance available she goes on long road trips with her friends to new places. And she is always down to attend a spin class!
Maggie 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."
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 last 3 months honing her skills on a small farm in Ireland, she has 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
Therapeutic Gardening Initiative Coordinator through
UB School of Social Work Field Placement
Nicole is a recent Buffalo transplant, where she has been adjusting quite well to the harsh conditions. She grew up in her family's Italian restaurant in Wisconsin and spent the last nine years in Seattle, where she worked in education, food, and journalism as a freelance writer on the arts, food, and social justice issues. She has enjoyed gardening with elementary school students, and has taught cooking classes to people of all ages.
She received her BA in English from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work/PhD in Social Welfare at the University at Buffalo. Her current work focuses on community social work, with interests in criminal justice, food justice, and the role of storytelling in social change and policy development. At GGWNY, she will be supporting the Therapeutic Gardening Initiative, which seeks to appreciate and build on the healing qualities of gardens already within the community garden network, and support other community members who wish to benefit from these restorative spaces. In this work, she is particularly excited to meet members of the many unique communities that make up Buffalo.
In her free time, Nicole enjoys tending her community garden plot with her partner, cooking, riding her bike, and volunteering.
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.
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