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Urban Agriculture key to creating a more equitable food system



Buffalo, New York — Mushroom might be the food of the future or perhaps the key to creating a more equitable food system. They are forming an interesting trend.

They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

“We haven’t heard reports of extensive mushroom cultivation, but we know that interest is growing,” said Samina Raja, professor of urban and regional planning in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Buffalo.

According to Raja, there are a number of factors why love for mushrooms is blooming.

“Mushrooms you can actually cultivate for a longer time period, it can be done indoors,” Raja said.

Just like over at Flat 12 Mushrooms in Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood. The urban farm is a success story. It’s one of many actually. Raja says the city is already rooted with 10 to 15 of them. That doesn’t include the hundreds of community gardens.

According to Raja, Buffalo has been at the forefront of urban agriculture as a whole. Now, it’s the way of the future.

“It is also an opportunity for income generation,” Raja said.

She says nearly 56,000 households in the Buffalo Niagara region do not live within walking distance of a grocery store and don’t have a personal vehicle. The pandemic exasperated this issue. So, using her team at the Food Lab at UB, they created a map as part of a project called Seeding Resilience. It’s a community-led coalition that’s seeking to strengthen the local food system in response to COVID-19. On the map are food resources across Buffalo.

“Cities have always been places where people think they are the places for homes and dogs, but I’ve never met a person who can live without food,” Raja said.

According to Raja, the key, though, is us. We will have to take charge to create the farms and grow them into success.

“I think in the future, we are going to see a much tighter integration of urban agriculture into our city’s fabric,” Raja said.

If you wish to start your own community garden, Grassroots Gardens of WNY is hosting a workshop on mushroom growing and is also a great resource.