Mrs. Frances Nash’s Garden Basket seeks volunteers, sets cooking demos

logo for Mrs Frances Nash's Garden-Basket
Image courtesy Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor

by Connie Oswald Stofko

“We’re really aware that Michigan Avenue (in Buffalo) is a food desert. There aren’t a lot of places to purchase healthy food,” said Audrey Clark, program manager for the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor.

That’s why work began last December on Mrs. Frances Nash’s Garden Basket with a goal of offering free, fresh & healthy produce to residents. Now up and running, the project distributes at least 30 free community supported agriculture (CSA) farm shares, enough food to feed more than 120 people per week.

The food is available on a first-come, first-served basis on Tuesdays. It’s open to anyone in East Buffalo. Some people make use of the Garden Basket because they don’t have the financial resources to buy fresh produce. Others were affected by the temporary closing of the Tops Market on Jefferson. While a two-hour window is scheduled for picking up the food, the boxes are usually gone in an hour, Clark said.

On this project, the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor partnered with the African Heritage Food Co-OpBuffalo Go Green  and the East Side Garden Walk. The CSA farm shares were sponsored by an anonymous donor, East Aurora Unitarian Universalist Church and Highmark Western New York. The CSAs are provided by Urban Fruits & Veggies and Dirt Rich Farm.

How you can help

If you have produce to share, you can contact Clark at aclark@michiganstreetbuffalo.org to coordinate that. Please don’t just drop off produce; the organizers need to know what’s coming.

Mrs. Frances Nash’s Garden Basket will continue distributing food the entire growing season. Volunteers are needed to help distribute the food this summer through October. You can sign up here to volunteer.

The plan for next year is to expand Mrs. Frances Nash’s Garden Basket to include a fully functioning farmers market in addition to the produce giveaway. People will be able to use benefits from the New York State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the farmers market.

Volunteers are needed to get this organized.

“If anybody is familiar with planning a farmers market, please contact us,” Clark said.

Food demonstrations

As part of Mrs. Frances Nash’s Garden Basket, a series of free demonstrations of cooking with healthy produce will be presented by Urban Fruits & Veggies.

The demonstrations are open to the public and start at 3 p.m. Tuesdays outside on the corner of Michigan and Broadway, Buffalo. The dates are:

  • July 19
  • Aug. 9
  • Sept. 6
  • Oct. 18

Mrs. Frances Nash’s story

The program is named after Frances Nash, wife of Rev. J. Edward Nash. After attending various health lectures, Mrs. Nash developed an interest in nutrition and  became an advocate for healthy eating. She became knowledgeable about vitamins, food-groups, proteins and starches. In the 1940s, Mrs. Nash developed a large vegetable garden in the back of her home at 36 Potter Street. For many years this garden supplied the neighborhood and the Nashes’ friends with organically grown foods. 

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