Our Roots

Founded in 2017, Taproot Collective is a nonprofit organization with the mission to design and build holistic systems for healthy local food, dignified housing, and educational opportunities with youth and families.

We envision a city filled with thriving neighborhoods where all people have equitable access to critical resources. We operate with the guiding values of stewardship, integrity, justice, cultural humility, equity, excellence. These principles are central to everything we do.

Our Team

The 2019 Community Food Team

We are proud to offer the Community Food Program at First Market Farm during the 2019 growing season. Supported by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation’s Community Health Grant, the Community Food Program is a family-based series of seed to table classes held at First Market Farm and in collaboration with the City of Rochester Public Market’s new instructional kitchen. Six community garden classes are offered May - September and six community cooking and food preservation classes will be offered July - September. The Community Food Team has carefully structured classes to engage Rochester families in a diverse array of growing, cooking, and preserving methods centered around traditional cultural knowledge and memory.

Community garden classes feature seasonal gardening practices for home-scale production using a variety of organic growing methods. Garden class participants receive organic compost, seeds and seedlings, fresh produce, and a hand tool for home use at the end of each class. Community cooking and preservation classes include culturally-sustaining recipes chosen by youth leaders as kitchen coordinator to represent the cultures of their neighborhood. Classes feature produce grown at First Market Farm and sourced from local producers at the Market. Participants will receive hands-on educational activities, food tastings, and brochures that include recipes and shopping lists from vendors at the Market. All classes in the Community Food Program are free and open to all Rochester families.

Our Community Food Team

Ellie

Ellie Coonce

Garden Coordinator

Ellie is a secondary science educator at RCSD and avid gardener with dual passions for environmental and social justice. After relocating from Albuquerque, NM, She completed a BS in Conservation Biology at SUNY-ESF, during which she studied native ecologies as well as edible landscaping and food justice issues. She is currently a graduate student studying education at U of R. Her life goal is to support urban life science education with hands-on experiences utilizing school greenhouses and gardens.

Christina

Christina Fields

Kitchen Coordinator

Ms. Fields started cooking in her parents’ Maryland home in 1982 at the age of three assisting with the production of her mom’s chocolate chip cookies and her father’s original bbq sauce. After she successfully catered a friend’s going away party in 2012 Christina decided to make cooking her profession and went back to school, attending Monroe Community College’s culinary program. Since then she has had just about every type of cooking job out there from fast food cashier to hotel breakfast cook to summer camp special meals chef. Christina is committed to a vegetarian and garden focused diet for herself and relishes the opportunity to share that way of cooking with the community and learn some new kitchen skills through that process.

Azaria

Azaria Thompson

Intern

My name is Azaria Thompson I’m 16 years old and I attend Eastridge Senior High. In my free time I enjoy doing things such as drawing and listening to music. Besides doing those types of hobbies I also enjoy learning new things that challenge me to reach out of my comfort zone, which is one of the many reasons why I wanted to be apart, of Taproot. One of the main contributors as to why I wanted to join this organization is because I wanted to be apart of my community. Leadership is a key component as to challenging an individual into a skilled thinker and role model. I also enjoy taking on opportunities that will be beneficial to me and others for a lifetime. Learning to garden is an important aspect of life in my opinion, and is something that has been forgotten and disregarded in our society. I want to be able to take on this important knowledge and become an enlightened individual.

Rashawn

Rashawn Williams

Intern

My name is Rashawn Derrick Williams. I was born in Rochester, NY and I am 15 years old. I am the only child born to Leon and Ronnell Williams, but the youngest child of five. I have two older sisters and two older brothers. I am a sophomore student at Vertus Charter School located in Rochester. I am in the graduating class of 2021. My passion is basketball. I have been playing basketball since the age of 3. I have participated in numerous tournaments and played on various teams. My goal is to obtain a full basketball scholarship and attend Ohio State. When I’m not on the court I enjoy spending time with my family and hanging out with my friends. I’m interested in farming because I like the idea of growing food to help offer healthy food choices in my community.

Our Community Food Classes

Sign Up for our free classes!

Introduction to Urban Gardening
Saturday, June 1st 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
Learn the basics of home gardening in small spaces. We’ll review bed building techniques, container gardening, seed starting and transplanting, and everything you need to know to get started growing in your space. Participants will each take home a plant.

Secrets of Soil and Composting
Saturday, 6/22/2019, 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
Composting at home is fun and easy! Learn how to turn your kitchen waste into garden gold! Participants will build and take home their own vermicomposting bin, with enough worms to get started!

Introduction to Cooking
Thursday, 7/11/2019, 5:30 - 7:30 at the Rochester Public Market in Shed B
Learn the essentials of home cooking, from basic culinary techniques to meal planning and preparation. We will make a spring salad and herb dressing with First Market Farm produce! Participants will take home recipes and their own jar of dressing!

Garden Friends and Foes
Saturday, 7/20/2019, 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
Learn how to identify and deal with common garden pests. We will also review beneficial garden insects, how to attract them, and the importance of biodiversity in your landscape. Participants will brew and take home their own garlic pepper spray.

Herbs & Spices
Thursday, 7/25/2019, 5:30 - 7:30 at the Rochester Public Market in Shed B
Come learn how to use and dry herbs to make your own culinary spice blends and teas! Using herbs from our farm and exotic spices from the market, we’ll be making herbal blends of all sorts! Participants will take home recipes and a jar of herbs.

The Urban Food Forest
Saturday, 8/17/2019, 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
Exploring companion planting with perennials and growing in guilds, as well as forest gardening and small scale mushroom growing! In this workshop, participants will take home a perennial plant.

Rainwater catchment and Irrigation
Saturday, 9/14/2019, 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
Learn how to build a rainwater catchment system for your home garden! We’ll review step-by-step instructions on how to use a barrel to collect rainwater and irrigate your garden.

Season Extension and Winter Preparation
Saturday, 10/5/2019, 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
In this workshop, we’ll review what you can do to grow longer into the season, using cold frames. We will also discuss winter crops and how to grow microgreens all year round!

Sauces and Salsas
Thursday, 8/8/2019, 5:30 - 7:30 at the Rochester Public Market in Shed B
Join us as we delve into the world of sauces! We will be demonstrating how to create pesto, marinara, and salsa with the freshest of ingredients. Participants will take home recipes and a jar of sauce!

Cooking with Vegetable
Thursday, 8/22/2019, 5:30 - 7:30 at the Rochester Public Market in Shed B
This workshop will focus on how to make cooking with vegetables fun and delicious! We will be making a nutritious and protein packed vegetarian meal with vegetables picked that day! Participants will take home recipes and fresh produce from the farm!

Junk Food Flip
Thursday, 9/5/2019, 5:30 - 7:30 at the Rochester Public Market in Shed B
In this workshop we will be experimenting with our favorite less-than-healthy dishes and finding ways to make them better for you. We’ll make one main dish and one dessert for everyone to enjoy! Participants will take home recipes and fresh produce.

Preservation Methods
Thursday, 9/19/2019, 5:30 - 7:30 at the Rochester Public Market in Shed B
In this workshop we will be going over all of the methods available to preserve the food you grow, from canning to drying and freezing! Participants will take home recipes and a jar of pickled vegetables.

First Market Farm

Taproot Collective has partnered with multiple local organizations to create a unique urban homestead, First Market Farm. Located on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and First Street, a stone's throw from the Rochester public market, First Market Farm is a collaborative project that increases long-term access to locally-grown food, provides safe community growing spaces, and offers seed to table educational programs for families facing food insecurity. The farm, now under construction, will include more than 4,500 square feet of garden space designed to maximize food production and community educational opportunities.

Get Involed

Job Opportunities

Taproot Collective just finished selecting our 2019 Community Food Team for First Market Farm. The Community Food Program is a 7-month youth development program where youth interns design and deliver community garden and cooking classes with a focus on community engagement, intergenerational education, and cultural identities. The Community Food Program will train youth to be social change leaders by exploring issues of social justice, food sovereignty, and community engagement while sharing knowledge and experiences with their communities.

Volunteer Opportunities

Our volunteers make magic happen! We are so grateful for the many volunteers with diverse skill sets and unique experiences who allow our programs and mission to work every day.

If you are interested in volunteering with us or just learning more about Taproot, check out our community work day opportunities on our Facebook events page and sign up to volunteer.

Volunteer Sign Up

Events & News

intro to cooking

Introduction to Cooking

Thursday, July 11th 5:30 - 7:30 at Rochester Public Market in Shed B
Learn the essentials of home cooking, from basic culinary techniques to meal planning and preparation. We will make a spring salad and herb dressing with First Market Farm produce! Participants will take home recipes and their own jar of dressing! SIGN UP for the free class.

sofrito ingredients

Sauces and Salsas

Thursday, August 8th 5:30 - 7:30 at Rochester Public Market in Shed B
Join us as we delve into the world of sauces! We will be demonstrating how to create pesto, marinara, and salsa with the freshest of ingredients. Participants will take home recipes and a jar of sauce! SIGN UP for this free class.

sofrito ingredients

Junk Food Flip

Thursday, September 5th 5:30 - 7:30 at Rochester Public Market in Shed B
In this workshop we will be experimenting with our favorite less-than-healthy dishes and finding ways to make them better for you. We’ll make one main dish and one dessert for everyone to enjoy! Participants will take home recipes and fresh produce. SIGN UP for this free class.

greenhouse

Season Extension and Winter Preparation

Saturday, October 5th 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
In this workshop, we’ll review what you can do to grow longer into the season, using cold frames. We will also discuss winter crops and how to grow microgreens all year round! SIGN UP for this free class.

A Farm Grows

City Newspaper

A farm grows near the Public Market

By Jeremy Moule
Photos: Ryan Williamson
"But ultimately, Taproot hopes to demonstrate what residential-scale gardens can accomplish, to encourage people to grow food and ornamental plants in their neighborhoods, and to help their neighbors reap the community-building benefits of urban agriculture, Powers and Knox say."

D&C Worms

Democrat and Chronicle:

Simple Compost System Turns Food Scraps into Rich Soil

By Patti Singer
Photos: Shawn Dowd
A simple step-by-step introduction to setting up an at-home vermicomposting system.

bee pollinator

Garden Friends and Foes

Saturday, July 20th 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
Learn how to identify and deal with common garden pests. We will also review beneficial garden insects, how to attract them, and the importance of biodiversity in your landscape. Participants will brew and take home their own garlic pepper spray. SIGN UP for this free class.

food forest

The Urban Food Forest

Saturday, August 17th 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
Exploring companion planting with perennials and growing in guilds, as well as forest gardening and small scale mushroom growing! In this workshop, participants will take home a perennial plant.SIGN UP for this free class.

rainwater catchment

Rainwater catchment and Irrigation

Saturday, September 14th 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
Learn how to build a rainwater catchment system for your home garden! We’ll review step-by-step instructions on how to use a barrel to collect rainwater and irrigate your garden. SIGN UP for this free class.

Harvest Party

Open Mic Rochester

Taproot Collective: One year Later

By Vanessa J. Cheeks
"Taproot Collective is on track to provide the Marketview Heights Neighborhood with access to local, fresh foods and housing options. But, as they enter their second year, and increase projects they need more helping hands. “We are always looking for more volunteers,” said Caruso, who wants more people in the community to roll up their sleeves and help with this large community initiative."

First Market Farm This Way

Open Mic Rochester

Taproot Collective Gears Up for Busy Summer Months

By Alyssa Pressler
Photos: Tianna Mañón
"With a Foodlink grant and a lot of passion, Taproot Collective is getting ready for a busy summer developing the First Market Farm in Rochester..."

spices

Herbs & Spices

Saturday, July 25th 5:30 - 7:30 at Rochester Public Market in Shed B
Come learn how to use and dry herbs to make your own culinary spice blends and teas! Using herbs from our farm and exotic spices from the market, we’ll be making herbal blends of all sorts! Participants will take home recipes and a jar of herbs. SIGN UP for this free class.

spices

Cooking with Vegetables

Saturday, August 22nd 5:30 - 7:30 at Rochester Public Market in Shed B
This workshop will focus on how to make cooking with vegetables fun and delicious! We will be making a nutritious and protein packed vegetarian meal with vegetables picked that day! Participants will take home recipes and fresh produce from the farm! SIGN UP for this free class.

food preservation

Preservation Methods

Saturday, September 19th 10:00 - 12:00 at First Market Farm
In this workshop we will be going over all of the methods available to preserve the food you grow, from canning to drying and freezing! Participants will take home recipes and a jar of pickled vegetables. SIGN UP for this free class.

MVMVLOGO

13 WHAM: Many Voices, Many Visions

Interview with Taproot Collecitve

By Norma Holland
Watch Norma Holland's interview with Stephanie Benway, who leads site design, installation, and management at our sites, and Leslie Knox, who coordinate volunteer outreach for Taproot.

garlic

City Newspaper

Planting the Seed: Urban Farms are Providing Food and Hope in Rochester

By Jeremy Moule
Photos: Kevin Fuller
"...Urban agriculture, it turns out, is also a powerful tool for strengthening neighborhoods. Community gardens can develop into neighborhood anchors, places where people can gather, says Powers, who worked in urban planning before becoming a teacher. The gardens stitch communities together, she says, which in turn helps people better advocate for their neighborhoods..."

Contact

We want to hear from you! Email us at info@taprootcollective.org.