But probably the strongest argument for what Garden Walk Buffalo, and other gardening initiatives do for the city can be found in this quote:
"And gardening cannot change Buffalo’s national image of a declining postindustrial wasteland the way a winning football or hockey team can. Except when a woman from Ohio told me, after reading a news article about Garden Walk Buffalo, “I was aware that this article was already changing my impression of Buffalo” before ever visiting the city. I have yet to hear similar remarks about the Bills or Sabres."
Randy's project included interviewing 20 gardeners, involved with garden tours, in Buffalo and Cleveland. He tells me his analysis indicates that Garden Walk has successfully tied together two communities – artists and folks active in voluntary life. Other Garden Walks seem to have either lots of artist creativity but lack the community structure of involvement, or have the community structure (i.e. block clubs) but lack the artistic field.
19 of his 20 interviewees moved to the city from somewhere else. Some explicitly mentioned that the gardens on the street were the reason they bought their house where they did. A number of gardeners mentioned the increased number of young families with children in the area. This indicates that the urban gardeners are making the city an attractive place to live. Again, while not a direct cause, he did find an indirect effect of Garden Walk making the city a better place to live.
He thinks that’s why Buffalo Garden Walk has been so successful. By fusing the two communities, which may have had some overlap to start with, it has managed bring in new people to constantly replenish the number of members who may drop out for a year or so before returning. It also leads to a community structure of support between residents that produces some spectacular gardens. The result has been a grass-roots, organic, from-the-ground-up movement by citizens that's actually changing the nature of the city of Buffalo (all puns intended).