1 Green Entrepreneurial Center The Green Entrepreneurial Center (GEC) located at the CAO of Erie County Inc. was started in the Fall of 2009 with a $250, ARRA Stimulus Grant to help develop urban farms in food desert areas of Buffalo, NY. Our goal is to make food affordable and accessible as well as educate community members and students. We offer workshops, training programs and are currently developing an urban farm to school program for public and charter schools.
3 Feeds families Employs its people Teaches others The GEC: Supports local farmers
4 Fighting Food Desserts The Urban Farming program at the Community Action Organization was started with the help of Will Allen, basketball star and director of Growing Power in Milwaukee Wisconsin. The goal was to create 8 to 10 Urban Farms, lower the cost of food, make food more accessible to lower income people and create living wage jobs.
6 Composting We have grown our composting system from a few cubic yards of top quality soil a year to 1,000 plus cubic yards of top quality soil a year. We have stopped 650 tons of food waste from being deposited in our local landfills. We work with local restaurants, schools and hotels to identify and use as many different compostable products as possible. We are DEC certified and now provide free composting pick up for Buffalo State College.
8 Aquaculture Fish are an important nutrient source and are well suited for small scale urban farms. One of our first projects was constructing a 96 x 24 greenhouse for a complete aquaculture system located on the West Side of Buffalo. The facility is capable of raising over 40,000 pounds of fish per year, each fish weighing in at lbs. The facility at the GEC will be able to raise catfish, Black Bass, Perch, Trout and even Fresh Water Prawns.
9 Catfish Fingerlings
11 Leaders in Urban Farming The GEC has helped design, train and manage 8 individual urban farms located in Buffalo. We have and continue to serve as consultants to anyone looking for advice on aquaculture, greenhouse construction and management, composting, and green entrepreneurial endeavors.
14 Hydroponics Hydroponics is incorporated with our Aquaculture program, it is not only a part of our natural water filtration process but it also produces a large amount of food in a space that may have been wasted space. Currently hydroponics produces about 15% of our produce and serves as a nursery for our new hydroponic beds.
16 Water Conservation We collect rain water to water our crops and to prevent rain run-off in the city sewer systems. Also with rainwater and compost we can make a high quality compost tea fertilizer that helps fight plant diseases.
17 New Hydroponic Bed In January 2013 we added a 400 square foot hydroponic system to our greenhouse classroom. The system uses fertilized water instead of soil and can produce up to 30 lbs of food per week. Using a hydroponic system is more efficient and has more than tripled our lettuce production. We currently grow different varieties of lettuce, basil and leafy greens.
18 The Nichols School Environmental Club
19 The Nichols School Environmental Club
21 Open Market Sales We sustain our program by selling a portion of our produce to chefs at local high end restaurants. We supply them with fresh chemical free produce on a weekly basis. We cater to their menu by growing specialty crops that cannot be found anywhere else in Buffalo. We invite our chefs to visit the GEC farm and make sure we are meeting their needs.
22 Local Chef (bottom left) sampling fresh herbs
23 Fresh Affordable Produce One of our major goals is to reduce the cost of food for the people of Buffalo. We invite local community members to stop by our farm and take a quick trip down the road to buy fresh, affordable produce instead of paying for a bus/taxi ride or walking great distances to a grocery store for over priced vegetables and leafy greens.
24 Local community member (right) receiving fresh produce
25 Reducing Food Cost In Buffalo local grocery stores sell mixed greens for up to $2.99 for a 5ozs bag. At the GEC we sell fresher, higher quality greens for 1/3 of the cost at $3.00 per 2lb bag! $3.00 of greens from a grocery store is barely enough to feed one person, $3.00 of greens from the GEC can feed an entire family for a week!
26 $3.00 of Mixed Greens Supermarket GEC
27 Hard to find greens, Mizuna (left) Red Leaf Mustard Green (right)
31 Service Learning The Nichols School Environmental Club The GEC and the Nichols School have been working together to develop a greenhouse education curriculum and student mentoring program for public and private schools. The students have learned how to grow food from seeds and helped build our 1,000 cubic foot composting facility and 400 square foot hydroponic bed. See the students in action: https://vimeo.com/ Canisius College Students come to the GEC farm to learn about urban farming and take part in various service learning activities including planting, harvesting and composting. For students interested in learning more about urban farming we offer year round internships.
34 Current Farm to School Efforts SUN Students Understanding Nutrition The GEC has partnered with AmeriCorps VISTA and The Nichols School to educate public and charter school students on urban farming and proper nutrition in a greenhouse classroom environment. SUN will work with teachers to provide students in grades PK-6 with lessons on sustainable agricultural practices. Students will be empowered to make healthier life style choices and take part in hands-on learning activities in the classroom and at the farm.
35 Industry Residential Center The aquaculture and aquaponics program is one of the center s newest efforts for accomplishing this goal. Provide residents with a hands-on learning experience in life science, basic math, aquaculture and aquaponics. The residents have learned how to build and operate the aquaculture system that raises Tilapia, Black Bass, Catfish and fresh produce for a salad bar in the dining hall. The residents gained a first hand learning experience in plumbing, electrical systems, design, basic algebra, life science, animal husbandry, greenhouse management and other important skills that complement the curriculum taught in the academic classroom at the center. For residents, this experience may serve as a catalyst in pursuing a career in a skilled trade at some point in their future.