Dear Director Reeve, 

On behalf of the Healthi Kids Coalition, we urge you to allow a range of beneficial community garden activities on land owned by the Department of Transportation to promote whole child health in the City of Rochester. These activities should include play areas, events and celebrations, access to free food, and programs and classes. Extensive research has shown that community gardens have numerous positive effects on children and neighborhoods, extending beyond providing healthy food. We respectfully request that the DOT take into consideration the potential impact of community gardens on children when evaluating the current and future uses of DOT land. 

Healthi Kids is a grassroots community coalition consisting of 98 members and an initiative of Common Ground Health. Since 2008, we have been advocating for the well-being of children in the City of Rochester and the Finger Lakes region. Our mission involves advocating for policies, systems, and environmental changes that support the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of children from birth to the age of 8. 

Research demonstrates that community spaces which promote healthy eating, physical activity, supportive social networks, and play and learning greatly contribute to childhood development. When utilized to their full potential, community gardens can serve as such spaces. By providing a multi-generational environment where children and families can grow food, learn about science and nutrition, engage in active play, and connect with neighbors, gardens offer a wide range of benefits to our community. 

It is with great disappointment that Healthi Kids has learned about the revocation of the permit for the 490 Farmers Community Gardens. Given the high rate of childhood poverty in Rochester, our city's children frequently lack safe places to play, learn, and access healthy food. The work of the 490 Farmers and others has been a beacon of hope for those striving to make Rochester a healthier and more vibrant place for children. The 490 Farmers have successfully transformed a previously vacant parcel of land into a space that promotes the physical and social-emotional health and development of children. 

We urge you to collaborate with the 490 Farmers and the City of Rochester to preserve the garden's activities. Furthermore, we encourage the DOT to continue educating themselves on the comprehensive benefits of community gardens and to leverage their participation in the New York State Community Gardens Task Force to explore new ways of utilizing DOT land and resources to further New York's health and urban agriculture goals. 


Jenn Beideman 
Director of Whole Child Health Advocacy 
Healthi Kids Coalition at Common Ground Health 

Stephanie David 
Director of Early Childhood Policy 
Healthi Kids Coalition at Common Ground Health