Lots of Food’s Rochester Public Market Garden
The Rochester Public Market has upwards of 20,000 visitors weekly representing the full spectrum of Rochester’s diverse culture - socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. Two years ago, the City of Rochester planted this space as a public garden filled with annual vegetables, herbs, and flowers. While we are keeping the model that this food is free for anyone to harvest at any time, we are transforming it into a perennial public food forest filled with nuts, fruits, perennial and annual veggies, and edible and medicinal flowers and herbs. This will reduce the maintenance required at the same time that we increase productivity and biodiversity. During 2013, we met our goal of maintaining the annual garden that the City had already been planted. Last fall, we sheet mulched it in preparation to plant the food forest in spring 2014. We also installed a Little Free Library, which is bringing free books previously housed inside the adjacent administration building out into the public view. This winter, we are designing the garden using permaculture and ecological gardening techniques – hopefully with children from a nearby City recreation program. In my observations and conversations with folks while working in the space during 2013, those who harvest from it are primarily low-income black folks including men who struggle to provide for their children and the children themselves. There is 24 hour access to the garden even when the market is not open. Since neighborhood folks travel mostly on foot, by bicycle, or public transportation and have a median income of as low as $14000 with childhood poverty rates up to 78%, we believe that they will be the primary beneficiaries of the garden. We will also leverage its visibility to publicize our other garden sites and educate folks about growing, harvesting, and cooking fresh foods.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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