OUR WORK AS AN ACCREDITED LAND TRUST
Preserving Buffalo-Niagara’s Community Gardens for Future Generations
In 2017, Grassroots Gardens of Western New York began a major transition, with the purchase of our first two properties: the Cottage District Garden on York Street and the Tyler Street Community Garden. These gardens will now be held by GGWNY, in perpetuity, on behalf of the community. The decision to move from a fully lease-holding agency to landowner is motivated by concern that Buffalo-Niagara redevelopment will come at the cost of loss of green space and gentrification. Becoming an accredited land trust with the funds to purchase as many gardens as makes sense for us and the community will help protect our community garden network now and for future generations.
With support of the Land Trust Alliance and our local partners, we spent much of 2018 and 2019 preparing to apply for Land Trust Alliance accreditation. A recent independent evaluation of land trusts found that “accredited land trusts far outpace those not yet accredited. They have significantly bigger budgets, more staff and volunteers, and 8 times more money invested to steward and defend their conservation lands than their peers of similar size—they also save 3 times more land!” (Bloomingdale Management Advisors, 2018). Our Land Stewardship Committee has identified which community gardens are most at risk of development, which have had the most long-standing community investment, and which provide crucial green space in neighborhoods with the greatest need. Across the organization, we focused on sustainability, including strengthening our financial policies and procedures and developing land-management plans.
Throughout 2020 and early 2021, we underwent a year-long organizational audit to demonstrate how our policies and practices met the standards and practices of the Land Trust Alliance. In late August 2021, we were notified that we had achieved accreditation!
The accreditation seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation. It is awarded to land trusts meeting the highest national standards for excellence and conservation permanence.
Each accredited land trust completes a rigorous review process and joins a network of organizations united by strong ethical practices. This trusted network of land trusts has demonstrated fiscal accountability, strong organizational leadership, sound transactions and lasting stewardship of the lands they conserve.
The seal is awarded by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. The volunteers who serve on the Commission represent a diverse group of land conservation and nonprofit management experts from around the country. For more information please visit landtrustaccreditation.org.
In order to continue to grow our land trust, we need to grow stewardship funds for the purchase and long-term care of our community gardens. Please consider giving today to our Garden for All Times appeal.