Melissa Fratello took on her role as Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo’s Executive Director in 2014. After ten years in community development and government administration, Melissa transitioned from her role as Regional Director for US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for the opportunity to lead Grassroots Gardens into a new era, focusing on collaborative relationships, strategic growth and programmatic delivery focused on social capacity building and environmental justice. Grateful to have an active role in Buffalo's renaissance, she firmly believes that true revitalization happens at the neighborhood level, block by block, and that community gardens are strong vehicles for neighborhood transformation and health, as well as tools for environmental awareness in under-served communities. Melissa currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Buffalo Audubon Society, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County, and Buffalo Green Fund, as well as the Advisory Board of the New York State Land Trust Alliance. She is a graduate of the University at Buffalo with a Master's degree in Urban Planning, where she specialized in community development. Melissa lives in North Buffalo with her son, Nick, and spends her free time practicing Tae Kwon Do, fiddling around the house with power tools, or gardening. Obviously.
Melissa can be reached at email@example.com
Heather Helman Community Garden Manager Heather Helman was born and raised in Western New York and is happy to call Buffalo home once more. After receiving her B.S. in Environmental Studies in 2013 from SUNY-ESF, she spent the next few years working on organic farms and learning about the different ways people engage with their local food systems. Heather is passionate about connecting people to their environments and to one another through food and gardening, as well as breaking down barriers to urban food production. When she isn’t playing in the dirt, she spends a lot of time reading, tracking down great live music, and exploring the amazingly delicious food and drinks our area has to offer.
Greg Wilder School Garden 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.