For many years when Allison DeHonney was talking about policies, it was related to her executive roles at insurance companies. Now when she’s talking about policies, she’s focused on advocating for our local food system, specifically urban farming and ensuring access to fresh, locally grown food for communities in the City of Buffalo.
After a long, successful career in corporate America, Allison decided to start a side business in late 2013 called Urban Fruits & Veggies to connect locally grown food with underserved communities, especially in East Buffalo, and make fresh produce as accessible as possible to residents.
The initial plan was just to grow produce on an urban farm and distribute that produce in local neighborhoods. She had no intention of leaving her day job. However, her business quickly took root and Allison soon realized in addition to focusing on her business full-time, she also needed to create a non-profit, now known as Buffalo Go Green.
“I fall more in love with this work every year, as challenging and time consuming as it is, there's nothing that I'd rather be doing. And a lot of that is because of the people. I meet individuals who have no more money left on their EBT card, to local and state politicians and legislators, educators and other business owners and most everyone is so grateful for our products and services,” said Allison.
Allison's unique experience of a successful corporate career, turned urban farmer, provided her with a unique perspective as Regional Advisory Council member for the Western New York Regional Food System Initiative. She jumped right in to provide important feedback when the effort launched in January 2021 and was an integral part of the collaborative team that helped develop a comprehensive plan that assessed our regional food system. In addition to serving on the Council, she was an active member of two work groups: Farmers and Producers and Access, Equity and Sovereignty.
“Being a part of the Regional Advisory Council was a really great learning experience. It helped grow my network, I connected with folks that I probably would've never met. It was good to learn about the rural farming struggles, the struggles in the meat industry, the struggles in the dairy industry,” said Allison.
With the FFWNY plan now complete and funding in place, the New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NYSAWG), an affiliate of Southern Tier West, is responsible for seeing through the report’s recommendations and Allison is excited about the future of the work being implanted, understanding that this is a long-term systems effort.
“It's all such good work, and we do it for the betterment of every single one of us, because simply put, we all eat, and are unified by that fact,” said Allison.
To learn more and read some of the inspiring stories of other Regional Advisory Council members, visit FoodFutureWNY.org.
Copyright @ 2021 NY Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
A non-profit organization of Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board
For more information about this project and how you can be involved, contact:
New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
4039 Route 219, Suite 200, Salamanca NY 14779
Kristen Tim, Chief Executive Officer
716-945-5301 ext. 2206
Kimberly LaMendola, Chief Programming Officer
716-945-5301 ext. 2211
Western New York Foundation
2495 Main Street, Suite 464, Buffalo NY 14214