Farmer Pirates is a cooperative of urban farmers in Buffalo, NY. The cooperative helps to facilitate sharing resources and knowledge for the benefit of each Pirate farm. Membership in Farmer Pirates is open, and is a great way to help get started as an urban farmer or homesteader. The Pirates also serve to promote healthy food and self reliance by offering services to people who grow food in the city, whether it’s in their backyard or a community garden.
Promoting Healthy Food
While each member of the Farmer Pirates makes compost at their own farm the cooperative operates a central composting facility and Compost Pickup service. The facility allows us to produce additional compost to keep up with growing demand from our farms and offer it to others.
We recognize how important compost is to growing healthy food in the city, especially if you’re just getting started. We also understand how difficult it is to find decent, affordable compost. In fact, the Farmer Pirates got started when a small group of urban farmers, sharing a common need, got together to buy composted horse bedding and payed to truck it into the city at a significant expense. The best way the Pirates can help people to grow healthy food in the city is to make decent, affordable compost more accessible. Check out Compost Sales for more information.
Sharing knowledge is perhaps the most important role of the Farmer Pirates for each of its members. The Pirates have no program for education or training. We get together regularly, discuss our experiences, our plans for the upcoming season, and more generally, we have access to the group to ask questions when needed. This is the Pirate way.
Access to Land
The Farmer Pirates Cooperative is a defacto community land trust. The cooperative facilitates shared ownership of land. The Pirates currently own thirty vacant lots, or about three acres of land on the East Side. This land, held in common by members of the cooperative from the Michigan Riley Farm and at Common Roots through long-term lease agreements, is no longer in the speculative market. In other words, the farms are less vulnerable to changes in market value and therefore potential displacement by gentrification.
Buying in Bulk
During the late winter and early spring of every year the Farmer Pirates meet regularly to plan out bulk purchases. It always starts with the seeds, then supplies for seeds starts and finally whatever soil amendments we need in early Spring. Buying together lowers the cost of managing our farms.
Sharing resources makes sense for a farmer since utilization of equipment is typically not very high. There is no formal program to share equipment but sharing has become a significant benefit to being a Pirate. Whether it’s a truck, the tractor or a soil blocker operating a farm costs less when sharing.
Every year, at the end of October the Pirates host a harvest celebration. This year will be our fifth annual Pig Roast and Cider Pressing. It’s not a fundraiser but a celebration of our community of urban farmers and gardeners that grows stronger each year. It’s also a celebration of the nourishing food that we grew while working together, sharing, and learning from each other, as any strong community does.