Remembering Our Roots
Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo (GGB) by was started in the early 1990’s by J. Milton “Zeke” Zeckhauser and other community activists who recognized the value in the City of Buffalo’s vacant land. Sally Marks, GGB’s first board president, recalled how she and other organization members traveled to New York City, Philadelphia and Seattle to learn what their community’s gardeners were doing.
After incorporating in 1995, GGB was run as a small, volunteer-led organization with a network of roughly 30 gardens for the next fifteen years. Throughout that time, GGB acted primarily as a facilitator of access to city-owned vacant land and indemnification, with very basic materials provided to gardens. In April 2006, with the passing of Mr. Zeckhauser, GGB lost its founder, most ardent supporter, and ally. The city’s gardeners, the organization’s board of directors, and the staff aimed to carry on and grow his legacy by promoting the expansion of community gardens in more neighborhoods and highlighting the significant role that community gardens play in the revitalization of Buffalo. With the addition of professional staff in 2010 and the work of a driven board, GGB not only expanded its network but it expanded its scope of services to include programming focused on capacity building, community organizing and environmental justice as well as food access and nutrition.
Greenprint Niagara was founded in Niagara Falls, New York in 2012 by a group of community activists as well. Their mission was to address the abundance of vacant lots in the City of Niagara Falls using a variety of creative re-use strategies such as creating community gardens and natural green spaces. Greenprint Niagara turned to Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo for support and in 2016, the two organizations decided to merge and refocus their efforts on growing Buffalo-Niagara’s community gardens and preserving some of them in perpetuity.