From “Clean and Greens” to Community Gardens

Transforming Symbols of Neglect into Oases of Inspiration:
The Amazing Benefits of Community-Controlled Land

All across the Green Development Zone once trash-strewn, weed-infested vacant lots are springing back to life. Through the BNSC Land Bank, PUSH has acquired almost 50 vacant properties in the GDZ and put them to a variety of uses. These range from relatively simple “clean and green” lots to community gardens, with many of other creative ideas in between. Landscaping touches at the sidewalk-ends of the lots, add new beauty and a sense of hope and rebirth to the neighborhood.


The quickest and simplest way to bring the breath back to a neighborhood street is the “clean and green” lot. Remove the debris and weeds from a vacant lot, grade it, seed it with grass, then add a few sidewalk-side touches like a fence, and a dangerous eyesore can be relatively quickly transformed into a space for recreation or neighborhood events.


PUSH has also dramatically expanded the acreage of Community Gardens on the west side, offering dozens of residents, notably immigrants and refugees from farming regions across the globe, the opportunity to grow their own food and flowers.

On other lots, PUSH’s pocket farms, planted with squash, beans and other food crops, further supplement the MAP Urban Farm‘s output of healthy local food.

Still other plots have become tree farms that nurture the next generation of the West Side’s street trees. A pollinator lot draws bees and butterflies essential to urban agriculture.

Buffalo’s antique and overtaxed sewer system, which was designed to manage rainwater runoff as well as household waste, is a major source of water pollution in our region’s abundant rivers. This makes alternative run-off infrastructure critical to the city’s environmental health.

In partnership with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, PUSH has designed and planted several state-of-the-art rain gardens using deep-rooting native plants and gravel wells that channel water runoff away from sewer-intakes and into the soil. More rain gardens are planned for the final phases of the Massachusetts Avenue Park revitalization plan.

Water system at the 14th Street Community Garden

In addition to these uses, PUSH-owned vacant lots serve other innovative uses that could be scaled up in the future. The NetZero House’s geothermal heating system for example, could be replicated and expanded to deliver energy from underneath a vacant lot to multiple houses on a block. Another vacant parcel owned by PUSH will be paired with an adjacent city-owned lot to provide a second entrance to the Massachusetts Avenue Park.

Construction of the 14th Street Community Gardens, April, 2012


Laying out plots in the 14th Street Community Gardens

Healthy local food sprouting on 14th Street

Community gardens help make happy healthy kids!

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