Our Work as a Land Trust
Preserving Buffalo-Niagara’s Community Gardens for Future Generations
In 2016, 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 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 is working to identify which 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.
In late 2018 the Land Trust Alliance added a new requirement for accreditation: a $50,000 legal-defense fund as a security measure to continue to preserve and conserve land under the threat of development. We know that, with the help of our partners and community, we can raise the funds to continue our application for accreditation and add more of our gardens to the land trust.