Urban farm system may lose space used to grow fruits and vegetables some community members rely on

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Providing free and healthy food for people in the community, that’s one of the goals behind 490 Farmers. Now its urban farm system is in jeopardy. The State’s DOT is asking 490 Farmers to make changes or risk losing the space it has been using to grow both fruits and vegetables on.

“A lot of people use this space for just mindfulness, and nature in the middle of the city,” said 490 Farmers Board of Directors Chair Karen Soanes.

Sitting on both sides of Meigs Street and Broadway, 490 Farms has been feeding many people in the community who can’t afford fresh fruits, and veggies. Recently its two-year permit for the west side of the farm was revoked by the DOT. Now it must make changes to its east side.

“It’s just really frustrating,” said Soanes.  She continued, “It’s gardening season. We’re all excited to get out here instead of doing our usual spring prep. We’ve been trying to take care of all the demands that they’re putting on us to hold our permit, so that we can open and have a gardening season this summer.”

The DOT is demanding the non-profit group get rid of things like its food pantry, rain catchment system, and picnic tables.

“We’re also trying to hold on to our beehives, so that we can have bees that pollinate all of our vegetables for us, and it’s an education piece for the community about how to, you know, have bees hives in your backyard,” said Soanes.

Founder of 490 Farmers, Chloe Smith, says the group is trying to work with the state on its demands.

“It’s been really hard to plan this year because we’ve been waiting for a response for over six months now,and they just notified us just as the season is about to start. So, it’s definitely been a difficult few days and few months,” said Smith.

Now 490 Farmers is asking for the community’s support.

“We are kind of asking the community to come out and support us, and let us know that they appreciate this space. And, that it’s important to the community to have this, and to keep all of the things they’re asking us to remove,” said Smith.

News10NBC reached out to the state, and we’re still waiting to hear back.

Learn more about 490 Farmers here.