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This week, Buffalo LISC staff joined our partners at the Massachusetts Avenue Project, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, Empire State Development, and many local representatives to celebrate the opening of the new Farmhouse & Community Food Training Center.
LISC contributed $1.36 million in construction and predevelopment lending to the project, which is located at 387 Massachusetts Avenue on the city’s West Side. The Farmhouse is a stellar example of LISC’s commitment to building healthy communities - a neighborhood food hub designed to remedy food deserts, provide food-related job training to community members and youth, and improve nutrition throughout the city of Buffalo’s low income neighborhoods.
“This project would not be possible without the unwavering commitment and support we have received from our State, City and Private funders,” said Diane Picard, executive director. “Our new Farmhouse will allow us to expand the work MAP does in the City to build food equity and economic opportunities with those most affected by food insecurity. MAP's farmhouse is the first of its kind in Western New York and we hope it can serve as a regional model towards building just and equitable food systems."
Our local LISC office has partnered with MAP for years, providing them Section IV capacity building funding and working with them to realize this dream project for their community. The Farmhouse will be the main hub for MAP's urban farming efforts, including their aquaponics system and greenhouses, as well as 3,000 square feet of cold and dry storage for farm produce and stocking their Mobile Market truck.
The center will also provide employment, training and leadership opportunities for youth participating in MAP's Growing Green youth entrepreneurship program. With a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen that includes teaching spaces for visitors and volunteers, MAP will provide West Side residents with increased access to healthy, locally grown food and class on cooking, nutrition, and cooperative food preparation.
"Every community should have access to quality, fresh food and this partnership with MAP is part and parcel with New York State's ongoing efforts to end food insecurity once and for all," Governor Cuomo said. "This urban food hub in Buffalo will provide new markets for small farmers, greater access to affordable and nutritious food and job training and resources for the next generation of community leaders."
In addition to the food production facilities, the building’s third floor contains two affordable studio apartments.
"The new MAP Farmhouse is a game-changer for Buffalo's West Side, and will help to continue the progress of this vibrant community," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The new Farmhouse & Community Food Training Center will help to expand offerings of fresh produce, provide jobs for young people, and educate the public. Food insecurity is one of the most important social justice issues of our time. New York is recognizing this by investing in the MAP Farmhouse, which will work to combat hunger in Buffalo and across Western New York."
To learn more about MAP and their work, visit www.mass-ave.org.