Where Michele’s next slate mantle is coming from



I am really stretching the parameters of our charge in this post, but recycling and reuse have everything to do with green. And we like green, right? The nice-looking man you see above (photo by kc kratt) is Michael Gainer. He founded Buffalo ReUse, a group that is featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine today.

What Buffalo ReUse does is salvage materials from buildings scheduled to be demolished and collect them for the future use of DIYers who might be in the market for original Victorian hardware, vintage doors, classic molding, and yes, fireplace mantles, slate or otherwise. Often, the ReUse gang will engage in “deconstructing” houses that would otherwise be crushed into oblivion by a bulldozer, so that more materials are left intact. And that’s not all; ultimately, they’d like to make sure more homes are saved and restored rather than obliterated.

What’s this got to do with gardening? Where vacant lots exist (the result of demolitions), Gainer says: “We want to get a green space program rolling in the spring where we mobilize volunteers on the weekends to try to convert abandoned lots into productive green spaces. If we can get the funding to do it, we can hire more people to focus on that and let that be their project.” By productive, he means urban farming, a concept that is becoming widespread in Buffalo, just as it is in Detroit.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Good to see something good happening in Buffalo–that city has been decimated in recent years with so many people just up and leaving…

    Just a thought: if the building materials are a “free” byproduct of paid demolition work, can’t a portion of the proceeds made from sales of reclaimed materials go to help create seed funding for the garden initiative as well?

    I wonder this as I am trying to figure out a way to generate funding to do some gardening rehab in some of Albany’s more dire neighborhoods…

  2. Michael has been a whiz at finding funding for all kinds of initiatives and I am sure the green spaces would be paid for through combo of grants and such revenue as you suggest.

    Even in bad times, I find that funds for beautification projects are usually available, mostly though govt. grants and private foundations.

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