Land Conservancy preserves farm


The Land Conservancy and Providence Farm Collective Reach $2.3 million Fundraising Goal

The Western New York Land Conservancy and Providence Farm Collective (PFC) have reached their fundraising goal of $2.3 million to “Plant the Future of Farming” in Western New York.

PFC will now be able to purchase the farm in Orchard Park, while the Land Conservancy will place a conservation easement on it, keeping it farmland forever.

Since the start of this unique partnership, the organizations have reimagined farming in Western New York by creating a just, equitable, and sustainable agricultural model. Providence Farm Collective is a nonprofit that supports immigrant, refugee, Black, and low-income farmers in Western New York who cannot otherwise access farmland. By coupling a vision of community-based agriculture with the Land Conservancy’s experience with land and farmland protection, the two organizations coalesced around a shared goal, and in the process created an evolving partnership that has made major strides this year.

For PFC, what began in 2017 as a grassroots effort by the Somali Bantu community to get back to their farming roots has now grown—in just five years—to encompass refugees from multiple nations and members of the Black community at the 37-acre farm PFC will soon be able to purchase in Orchard Park.

“When we started this campaign, a little more than a year ago, we understood the challenges we faced as a young nonprofit,” said Kristin Heltman-Weiss, Executive Director of Providence Farm Collective. “But we also understood that through hard work, determination, and perseverance we could and would reach our goal. We never wavered in this belief. Today, we are immensely grateful to all the incredible people who recognized the significance of our vision and supported our cause.”

Dao Kamara, PFC farmer and also their Community Engagement Coordinator, said, “Our farmers are very happy today. This success means that farmers like me, who don’t have a lot of startup funds, will now have permanent access to farmland to build farm businesses. We will always have a place where we can grow culturally relevant food, feed community members, and foster connections through shared traditions with our families.”

Nancy Smith, Executive Director of the Land Conservancy, echoed Kristin’s and Dao’s remarks. She added: “Now more than ever, we see a huge need for productive farmland so farmers can grow fresh, local food to feed their communities—and ours. Though it takes a tremendous amount of work and the incredible support of an entire community to make fundraising campaigns successful, the outcome could not be more important. This is a banner day. We firmly believe PFC is playing a vital role here in Western New York.”

Natalie Baszile of the Black Harvest Fund, the renowned author of We Are Each Other’s Harvest and Queen Sugar who visited PFC this past summer, said, “The Providence Farm Collective and Western New York Land Conservancy partnership is the best example I’ve seen of a concrete, workable solution to help Black, Immigrant, Refugee, and low-income farmers. Their work has yielded tangible results and should be a model for Land Conservancies across the country. I continue to be inspired by PFC’s vision and am honored to support them.”

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