Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments, better known in the community as VINES, has served as a unique solution to food insecurity in our community.
VINES, housed in Binghamton, sets out to create sustainable community food systems. Through their different projects and programs, they bring together diverse groups of people, of all ages, races, and incomes, to build and maintain community gardens, green spaces, and promote urban agriculture.
Farm Share, a program funded by United Way of Broome County, gives people in our community the opportunity to receive fresh and local veggies from farms within 60 miles of Binghamton. People interested in this initiative can sign up for a weekly subscription, which can be customized to your individual needs! Open to people of all incomes, Farm Share helps break down social barriers by being uniquely designed to fit everyone’s economic abilities. Not only can you choose a pick-up location, an individual farm, and the amount of goods you would like to receive, but the Farm Share program also allows for the use of SNAP and EBT benefits, making it even easier for individuals and families to obtain fresh produce.
Beyond fresh produce, the programs of VINES create real, lasting relationships. VINES volunteer, Emily* shared “The program left me feeling connected with the people who’ve made this happen. I became a lot more aware of the actual produce we have here in Broome County.”
Food insecurity is rising even more rapidly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With record requests for community garden plots, VINES sprang into action. Understanding that many people cannot safely grow fresh produce due to lead contamination, VINES launched the Build-a-Garden program in May, rather than the anticipated fall. This program works in yards and porches of community members to provide a completely constructed, raised garden bed or garden bags sets, filled with rich compost and soil, as well as other resources to help the gardener get started.
To see what other initiates VINES has going on, make sure to check out their website.
Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has placed on our community, VINES has continued to operate most of its programs, recognizing their resources will be of an even higher need due to a rise in unemployment and the many other uncertainties the community faces. To help continue these programs and others alike, consider donating so that we can continue to grow our community.