Sign up now for Beyond Flowers bus tour this Saturday, Aug. 1

Beyond Flowers Tour in Buffalo
Photo courtesy Neil K Carroll

The bus tour called  Beyond Flowers: Sustainability in Action will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1.

You’ll visit seven sites where you’ll learn about urban farming, community gardening, creating community through parks, soil phytoremediation/reclamation, rainwater retention, rooftop gardening and more.

(Please note that the date in the Open Garden Book is incorrect. The correct date is Saturday, Aug. 1.)

The pick-up site is the the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus parking lot, 589 Ellicott St. at Goodell St., Buffalo. Parking is free.

The tour will be via school bus with bathroom stops at noon and 2 p.m. There is no air conditioning.

The cost is $35, which includes round-trip transportation, tour guides and a box lunch.

Register online.

Many innovative projects in Buffalo are demonstrating effective strategies for taking care of our environment. From a simple community-based rooftop garden to a million-dollar project on Lake Erie, Buffalo is committed to reclaiming the space of our industrialized and not-so-environmentally-friendly past.

At each of the sites, you will learn about its history and have the opportunity to speak with each site’s lead organizer.

The first stop will be the Massachusetts Avenue Project (M.A.P.) Begun more than 20 years ago by residents and then incorporated in 2000, this urban farm now covers more than an acre of reclaimed vacant lots on the West Side. Area teens learn marketable skills through M.A.P.’s Growing Green Program, and the site features two greenhouses, chickens, an indoor tilapia farm and a composting operation. Be sure to check out the short documentary produced by Whole Foods, Grow: The Story of an Urban Farmer.

Right across the street on Massachusetts Ave., PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing) has turned abandoned property into an environmentally conscious community gathering spot by creating a park and playground. As they say on their website, “The quickest and simplest way to bring the breath back to a neighborhood street is the ‘clean and green’ lot.” A short bus ride away are the 14th St. Gardens, where five adjacent lots that once held abandoned houses were cleared by P.U.S.H., and are now gardens used by 28 neighborhood families, many of them immigrants.

Out on Fuhrmann Boulevard we will stop at the two-year old Wilkeson Pointe, a former industrial dump site that has been transformed into a natural playground and now showcases wind sculptures and volleyball. A surprise view out over the breakwall awaits at the base of the sculptures.

The lunch stop will be at the historically significant Mutual Riverfront Park on Hamburg Street, where you  can take in a view of the world famous grain elevators.

After lunch, the tour moves on to the Broadway Market where you will visit gardens ingeniously built on the roof of their parking garage. The gardens are focused on flowers and vegetables, but they are equally about creating community in this diverse neighborhood.

Next up is the Urban Habitat Project next to the Central Terminal on Paderewski Drive. The project recently received an Environmental Quality Award from the Environmental Protection Agency for its achievement in protecting public health and the environment. Not only is this three-acre project beautiful, but it also redirects 320,000 gallons of rainwater away from Buffalo’s aging sewer system and uses splendid swaths of sunflowers to help clean the soil through phytoremediation.

The tour concludes where it started at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Here you will see the largest bio-retention facility in the area, a relatively narrow garden at the south end of the four acre parking lot. Only three years in operation, the site works to divert up to four million gallons of storm water annually from Buffalo’s sewer system, preventing the overflow that dumps sewage into our waterways.

Beyond Flowers Tour 2015 – Self-Guided

If you can’t make the bus tour, you’ll miss out on the history and the chance to talk with the leaders behind each site, but the projects are worth a visit on their own. Here are some tips on visiting the sites on your own.

Your tour begins on Buffalo’s West Side at 389 Massachusetts Ave., where tours are available at the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) site, Tuesdays at 4 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. for $2 per person (check their website to confirm dates and times). Learn about MAP’s Growing Green Urban Farm youth program and its indoor fish farm, compost site, chickens and green houses. Before you leave, be sure to pick up some salsa and chile sauce made and marketed by local teens participating in the Growing Green Project.

Directly across the street is the PUSH Green Development Zone park and playground. Here community activists transformed once-abandoned lots into Buffalo’s largest publicly owned green space. Just a few blocks away at 309-315 14th St., between Rhode Island and Vermont, is PUSH’s 14th Street Garden, where five adjacent lots were cleared creating gardens for 28 neighborhood families.

Get back into your car or onto your bike and go out to Fuhrmann Boulevard to visit Wilkeson Pointe in Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. Opened in 2013, this no-mow area was once an industrial dump site. Now it boasts bioswales (landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water), a rain garden, volleyball courts and kinetic wind sculptures.

Then it’s a short ride to 41 Hamburg St., where you’ll find Mutual Riverfront Park. Pass under an overhead arch created from an ice boom, and enjoy the park’s spectacular view of the world-famous grain elevators. Not far away is Buffalo River Fest Park at 249 Ohio Street.

Now head over to Buffalo’s Central Terminal at 495 Paderewski Dr. to visit the Urban Habitat Project. Part of the Central Terminal Restoration Project, this three-acre site received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Quality Award for its achievement in protecting public health and the environment. The site is not just beautiful, it also helps divert rain water from Buffalo’s overworked sewer system and uses sunflowers to clean the soil through phytoremediation.

Next is the Broadway Market Roof Garden, built on the top of their parking garage, available Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Amidst the lush flowers and vegetables, you’ll enjoy a panoramic view of downtown Buffalo, including Polonia’s “Seven Sisters,” the seven churches that surround the market.

And finally, downtown at Goodell and Ellicott at the end of the Kensington Expressway, stop to see the largest bio-retention cell in the area at the end of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus four acre parking lot. That relatively narrow plot of trees and plants is designed to handle nearly four million gallons of storm water a year, keeping it out of the easily over-whelmed Buffalo sewers. Continued improvements include solar and wind powered lighting and a bike storage shelter.

1 Comment on “Sign up now for Beyond Flowers bus tour this Saturday, Aug. 1

  1. Sounds nice, but I am going on the Philadelphia tour with Sally in mid-August. Only so many $$$ for the bus tours, and I picked the most expensive one. It should be fun though.

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