Lexington Ave. Community Farm
About the farm
Foodlink has operated an urban farm in northwest Rochester since 2012. The Lexington Avenue Community Farm serves 65 families, most of which come from the local refugee population (Nepalese, Bhutanese, Burmese and Somali), and sits on 1.33 acres of land near the corner of Lexington Avenue and Curlew Street. The farm serves three main purposes as 1) a community garden; 2) a commercial growing operation; and 3) a play space.
For several years, families in the Lyell-Otis and Edgerton neighborhoods of Rochester have rented raised beds to grow a wide array of crops. Through an initial connection with Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach Center, dozens of families — many of them with farming backgrounds — have been able to grow culturally appropriate foods to help increase healthy food access in a high-need area in northwest Rochester.
Commercial Growing Operation
Foodlink also grows produce for its various food-related programs. There is a 72-foot hoop house, an orchard of 30 fruit trees, and field beds that help support Foodlink’s Curbside Market and the Foodlink Community Kitchen. We also have an apiary with three bee hives, and last year we harvested honey for the first time and sold it on Curbside!
The Lexington Avenue Community Farm gladly welcomes volunteers. We host group outings, and train individuals who can work independently as their schedule allows.
In 2018, Foodlink used grant funding to build a pocket park and play space in the land adjacent to the community garden, nearest to Lexington Avenue. The space, which was once a dirt and gravel lot, now includes a storage area for sports equipment, a Little Free Library, a tire playground and a front lawn. The space will eventually hold nutrition education workshops.
Foodlink has made improvements to Lexington with generous community support from organizations such as Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, Midtown Athletic Club, and the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets. In 2019, we were pleased to receive our largest grant ever: a KaBOOM Play Everywhere Challenge grant, which brings play to unexpected but everyday spaces, making it easy and available for kids and families.
Urban Agriculture Working Group
Foodlink is also proud to sponsor and support the Urban Agriculture Working Group, a collaborative effort of urban ag leaders from across Rochester who seek to strengthen Rochester’s urban agriculture movement, develop community leaders, and collaboratively identify and address policy, resource and educational barriers to urban agriculture and community gardening of all kinds. In 2018, the group advocated for 5-year permits for community gardens run by nonprofits — replacing the city’s former year-to-year policy.
Each spring, the group organizes the annual Urban Ag Conference, a day of hands-on workshops, demonstrations, tours, seed swaps and conversations for Rochester’s community gardeners and urban farmers.