By Benjamin Joe Niagara Gazette, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Allison DeHonney is not only growing her own vegetables, she is getting the community and schools involved in her passion for food systems, agriculture and environmental justice.
Allison DeHonney is the owner and founder Urban Fruits & Veggies. The business now maintains 30 beds of vegetables and a greenhouse occupying formerly vacant lots on the east side of Buffalo.
While the group works with Community Health Center of Buffalo that includes a location in Niagara Falls, DeHonney has found that just providing healthy foods isn't enough. Along with access has to come education.
"We do their wellness events," DeHonney said, speaking of a fruit and vegetables prescription program they have with CHCB.
"We did 'Good for the Neighborhood' through Independent Health. We've done a couple of other 'one-offs' in Niagara Falls."
The most rewarding of those 'one-offs,' said DeHonney is going into the schools and teaching the students about food systems.
"It's called 'Food Systems, Agriculture and Environmental Justice' and that's only been taught in the Niagara Falls school district," DeHonney said. "It's been so well received and the teachers love it... It's about a 50 minute class, (and) at the end the kids say 'we've never even heard these words before!' I explain to them all the jobs they can get in food systems ... agriculture ... environmental justice. I tell them they could go to law school and I feel like they're really wow'ed and even the teachers say 'that's like 25 jobs and you haven't even finished yet!'"
DeHonney was invited by Dolly Randal, the owner of the Compliance and Administrative Service of New York (CASNY) who teaches an entrepreneur program and wanted to show the students an example of a business.
"That's how it started," DeHonney said.
For her business, DeHonney employs two market workers for the mobile market that goes to various places to set up farmer's markets.
A farm manager is absolutely essential, DeHonney said, to take care of the plants while she networks and looks for clients. She also puts six Erie County Summer youths to work who are paid by the city.
DeHonney tells a story of how they harvested all the plants one morning and brought them to Parkside Academy in North Buffalo for a farmer's market.
"They harvested all morning, and when we got to the market, customers would come up and say, 'oh my goodness, this looks so beautiful!' and I said. 'this is all them. They harvested this morning!' and they had such a sense of pride," DeHonney said. More information can be found at urbanfv.com. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.