The purpose of the Community Gardens Task Force is to convene stakeholders from state agencies, existing community gardens, special use districts, public authorities, and cooperative extension services to establish and expand community gardens and the activities they conduct. The group may study, evaluate, and develop recommendations related to this purpose.
The Task Force was established in Section 31-j of the Agriculture and Markets Law, which was updated in 2021. Task Force members are appointed by the Commissioner and include at least two representatives from organizations dedicated to the promotion, expansion, or protection of community gardens. The Task Force is required to prepare and submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature every five years on January 1, beginning in 2023. The Task Force meets biannually and as needed to perform its functions.
The Community Gardens Task Force is chaired by the Commissioner and is subject to Open Meetings Law as outline in Article 7 of the New York Public Officers Law.
Priorities and Objectives
The statutory priorities and objectives listed below are used as a framework to guide the Community Gardens Task Force and support state agency work that achieves these priorities and objectives.
- Encourage the establishment and expansion of community gardens by state agencies, municipal governments, and private parties.
- Encourage cooperation between the activities and operations of community gardens and provision of donated food to local voluntary food assistance programs for the poor and disadvantaged.
- Increase the benefits that community gardens may provide to the local community in which they are located.
- Encourage cooperation with community-based organizations to increase the opportunities for seniors, those aged sixty years of age or older, to participate in community gardens.
- Encourage the expansion of the production of fresh fruits and vegetables in areas served by community gardens so that such fresh produce can be consumed locally to help encourage healthier lifestyles and wellness, and to help reduce the incidence of adult and childhood obesity.
- Develop after school programs that establish, maintain, and expand community gardens.
- Encourage the development and expansion of community gardens in food deserts as defined in section two hundred sixty of this chapter.
Current members of the Community Gardens Task Force include:
- Stephen Acquario, New York State Association of Counties
- Chris Anderson, New York Association of Towns
- Yolanda Bostic Williams, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
- Lewis Clarke, New York State Department of Health
- Peter Dunleavy, New York State Department of Transportation
- Katharine Petronis, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- Andrew Barrett, Food Ed Hub/Coalition
- Mark Bordeau, Rural Health Network
- Tim Chen, Grassroot Gardens of Western New York
- Miriam Dalaei Fondera, Edible Schoolyard
- Allison DeHonney, Buffalo Go Green
- Iyeshima Harris, Green Guerillas
- Mark Izeman, Natural Resource Defense Council
- Kwesi Joseph, Cornell Cooperative Extension: New York City
- Virginia Kasinki, Downing Park Urban Farm/ Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative
- Amy Klein, Capital Roots
- Marilu Lopez-Fretts, American Community Garden Association
- Gerard Lordahl, Grow NYC
- Melissa MacKinnon, SiCM/Schenectady Urban Farms
- Carlos Martinez, NYC Parks GreenThumb
- Qiana Mickie, New York City Office of Urban Agriculture
- Gabrielle Mosquera, MPA, Teens for Food Justice
- Emma Phillips, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe
- Pamela Reese Smith, Community Gardens for Rochester
- Jonnell Robinson, Syracuse Grows
- Gregory Sandor, Cornell Cooperative Extension: Nassau
No members of this board receive payment of expenses or other compensation in the performance of their duties as members.
Information about the next meeting will posted here when it is available.
The most recent meeting was held on November 1, 2023. A recording of the meeting is available here. The meeting minutes, agenda, and discussion guide for all past meetings are also available below. Access a recording of meeting 1 (August 8, 2022). Access a recording of meeting 2 (October 14, 2022).
The first report from the Community Gardens Task Force was due on January 1, 2023 and every five years thereafter.