Collard City Growers Seeks New Garden Coordinator

Former Collard City Growers Garden Coordinator, Alexis Goldsmith, talks about the garden, her experience with farming, and the relief of having a green space in an urban environment.

The position for Garden Coordinator is currently open. To find out more about this job opening, visit or follow this link:…dinator-2021/

2021 Press Coverage

Freedom Square Installation Bringing Community Together

By Erika Leigh Troy

The Emerging From Darkness Art Installation has been in Freedom Square in Troy since Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, but many members of the community are just starting to learn about it.

“I do a lot of baking and we’re not going to parties or anything right now, so this is a way to kind of indulge in the craft but do good at the same time,” said Chris Severance of Watervliet.

“So we decided to start putting food in there,” said Mia Nilo of Watervliet.

Severance and Nilo say when they first saw the installation had free food boxes, they wanted to get involved.

“During this time helping out your neighbors, being a resource for your neighbors has been the most rewarding thing and the thing that you’re really starting to pay attention to and appreciate,” Nilo said.

So a few weeks ago they went into action, baking and delivering different treats and they’re not just for people facing food insecurity.

“Even the distribution boxes will hit all of the nutrition but it leaves out a treat which is the kind of thing that makes life worth living,” Nilo said. “[It’s] the thing people look forward to. So what it doesn’t have any nutritional value? It’s the thing you remember at the end of a meal, so we want to make sure those are in there and available for people, regardless of need.”

On this week’s menu? “Sweet cornbread, knishes; I have a pack of frozen waffles and the applesauce cakes,” Nilo said.

Nilo and Severance package up all the goodies with ingredient labels. Milo said a lot of their friends have food allergies or intolerances, so they’re used to baking carefully.

“I’ve done vegan, I’ve done gluten-free, so it doesn’t intimidate me,” Severance said.

Then it’s time for the money shot. A perfect photo is what Nilo needs to post on social media. She regularly posts about what they’ve made in multiple garage sale groups and other local groups on Facebook.

“You eat with your eyes first,” she said.

Then, it’s time to drop off. The pair pack up Nilo’s truck and head to Freedom Square. While they’re filling the food boxes, a passer-by stops.

“What are you guys doing?” he asked.

“We’re filling the free food box,” Nilo said.

“Is that what this is?” he said.

“Yeah!” Nilo said.

The altar and installation in Freedom Square are sponsored by a number of community groups, but was organized initially by the Sanctuary for Independent Media.

Nancy Weber, an environmental artist, says the weather hindered the launch a few times.

“In November, I first had this vision of a community altar where people could express their grief for this year of unprecedented losses,” Weber said.

“It’s not just about grieving, it’s also about resilience,” said Aileen Javier, of Media Sanctuary.

In the spring, they hope to create a permanent memorial in Freedom Square for the community. Javier says it’s important to have a space to come together as a community when people can’t be together right now.

“Coming here you can say, ‘OK, other people are experiencing the same thing and we will survive together,’ ” Javier said.

“The best thing about these is, I think that the altar is meant to be a space for people to grieve, and I think the free food boxes and the treats inside are a reprieve,” Nilo said.

Nilo and Severance say they usually drop off their goodies each Sunday around 1 p.m., but you can look for their posts with details and drop times in the Troy Garage Sale group on Facebook. Nilo says she hears from people who stop by, and the treats are typically gone by the end of the day on Monday.

The space is open to anyone in the community throughout the week, to stop by and enjoy what’s left in the food boxes, to grieve, to add to the altar and more. There are often free books and art supplies at the installation as well.

For more information about the installation or to find out how you can get involved, visit

2021 Press Coverage

Vigils mark grim Covid milestone


Dan Levy
Updated: January 19, 2021 11:39 PM
Created: January 19, 2021 11:34 PM

TROY – At Freedom Circle in North Central Troy, there was an alter built by youth in the community to shine a light, not just on the loss of 400,000 lives from Covid-19, but also for those who have died as a result of gun violence, or other social injustices.

“This community is mainly composed of low income and people of color and so this is the community, as are other communities in the Capital Region, who are most impacted by this pandemic,” said Branda Miller, Professor of Media Arts at RPI, and advisor to the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy.

The belief in the Collar City is that at this moment in time, if people could show compassion, if they could feel what it’s like to be in a community that is suffering loss, maybe that sentiment can become the impetus for healing the nation.

“Until you lost somebody, maybe you don’t have that compassion,” Miller suggests, “Until you hear somebody’s story, maybe you don’t understand, but we need to come together as a human family.”

“The only way to really make a difference is to show people and to have people learn about what’s going on around them,” said Shansanique Pollack, a 15-year old community volunteer who helped to build the Freedom Square alter.

On the streets of Troy that encircle Freedom Square, 14-year old Genesis Cooper says gun violence is more concerning to her than the threat posed by Covid-19.

“Where ever you live you should feel safe,” she asserts, “I shouldn’t walk down the street thinking I’m going to get shot by a cop or someone who has a gun that they shouldn’t have.”

Gabby Espada, 14, another community volunteer, says her goal is to bring awareness to as many people as she can.

“Having your voice heard, especially when you’re so young is very important,” Espada states, “So that way I could impact people of my age and around my age and around my school to do the same.”

Meanwhile, outside Niskayuna Town Hall, several dozen gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor the lives of people who were living in their community at the beginning of 2020, but who no longer live there because of Covid-19.

“It’s amazing to think about it really that today is the first time we’ve ever as a nation acknowledged the loss (of 400,000 Covid) lives, the loss of our economy, and to come together. I think it really says a lot about what we expect from this new president.”

Creators of the Troy alter are hoping people stop by on their own time to reflect on the loss of life of so many of their neighbors and friends.

Memorial Altar: “Emerging from Darkness”

Memorial Altar: "Emerging from Darkness"
Sunday 01/17/2021 - 05/01/2021 - 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm
EMERGING FROM DARKNESS: MAKING SPACE FOR GRIEF An installation to honor personal, community, national and global loss We welcome you to visit Freedom Square, at the corner of 101st St. [...]

Gardening at CCG 2020

Collard City Growers welcomed visitors during the 2020 season, even though the main building was closed due to the pandemic.

The Critters of Collard City Growers

Small livestock provide many benefits for the garden. They’re calming to watch and care for, they provide nutritious eggs, and their manure is great for the compost. They also eat love to eat food scraps and bugs. This year we built a new chicken run incorporated into the compost system, and we welcomed quail and rabbits to the garden as well. We also built a small animal enclosure in the hoop house for our critter projects.

Tending the Urban Forest

Tending the Urban Forest
Sunday 03/07/2021 - 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Learn about the NATURE Lab foodscape and how to care for our arboreal family, with professional arborists from the More Trees Cooperative. ***As health experts project we will continue to [...]

Garlic Planting and Herbal Remedies

Garlic Planting and Herbal Remedies
Sunday 11/08/2020 - 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
As the year winds down, join us at Collard City Growers for an afternoon of late season planting - garlic. We grow hardneck garlic, which is the variety that produces [...]

Uptown Summer 2020: Gardening at Collard City Growers

Uptown Summer 2020 – Media & Design

Uptown Summer 2020 participated in media and design projects as part of their work for the Sanctuary. Lead by Uptown Summer coordinator Jamel Mosely, the youth conducted “brand storming” sessions.

In designing a brand, there are a lot of questions. First and foremost is the question, What are the values? Other questions that were asked are: What is the story? What problem does the brand solve?

In answering these questions, the youth used various media tools. The Sanctuary’s mission of using art and participatory action means that our work is driven by the people in our community space. So before they began their work of developing branding for Health Autonomy Clinic and Nature Lab, they used their artistic talents to produce a visual representation of their brands as individual people. Words the youth used to express their values included expression, inclusion, togetherness, freedom, justice, family, and creativity.

The youth designed the flyer that was used for the Health Autonomy Clinic’s Black August People’s Clinic. In the garden, they used recorders to capture “found sounds” of the Sanctuary’s environmental education campus, which they then mixed in an audio work station. And at the future North Troy Art, Technology, and Urban Research in Ecology (NATURE) Lab site, they led a design charrette to guide the architect on what elements the space should have.

Uptown Summer 2020 – Handmade Signs

Compost System Building Workshop

Compost System Building Workshop
Saturday 09/26/2020 - 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Join us to build a compost system designed for an urban setting and for a discussion on food waste, food autonomy, and climate change.
2020 Press Coverage

Troy kids research Hudson River water quality


WNYT Staff
Created: August 21, 2020 08:27 PM

Young people from Troy are taking on the water quality in the Hudson River.

A new collaboration between Riverkeeper and the Sanctuary for Independent Media is giving Troy kids a chance to learn more about the Hudson.

The group is called Water Justice.

Teens will be testing the water for bacteria and tracking health and safety standards in the Hudson River Watershed.
Genesis Cooper, 14, tells NewsChannel 13 she became interested in the water issue after seeing the lead contamination story last year in Flint, Michigan.  Now she wants to affect change in her own backyard.

“Taking how we can solve the problem of its pollution and make it better so that everyone can have clean drinking water and clean bathing water,” explained Genesis.

A physical lab for the Water Justice program is being built now in North Troy and will be done some time next year.

Copyright 2020 – WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

Carson Reay

Carson is an undergraduate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Sustainability Studies. She is a summer 2020 intern for the Sanctuary working with the Hudson Mohawk Magazine and in the Collard City Growers garden. Her radio segments revolve around sustainability, social justice, and the outdoor community. At the garden, she goes after weeds and invasive species with a passion.

Though she grew up in rural Michigan, she is excited to help her new community in whatever ways possible. When not in the garden she can be found hiking through the Adirondacks or trying out new recipes.

You can find her work here:





Audio Hudson Mohawk Magazine News

For Black Lives

Black Lives Matter.

Listen here for local coverage of the Movement for Black Lives. This playlist includes all of the speeches from Troy’s Rally for Black Lives on Sunday, June 7, as well as more recent words from those fighting for justice:

MediaSanctuary · Rally For Black Lives

Peter Sergay

Peter Sergay is a student at Middlebury College (’22) and a Summer 2020 intern at the Sanctuary. He is producing a radio series, “Capital Region Icons,” featuring a wide array of performing artists, queer people, and activists discussing how they’re persevering through the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. He also is working as a mentor for the Uptown Summer youth radio producers. As a Computer Science major, he is helping archive the content of WOOC, and he works at the Collard City Growers community garden.

Interviews by Peter:


NATURE Lab Virtual Permaculture Walk

NATURE Lab Virtual Permaculture Walk
Thursday 05/28/2020 - 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Emma Willard student Sujin Chung will lead a virtual permaculture workshop, along with Media Sanctuary Collard City Growers/Radio Coordinator Alexis Goldsmith and Kevin Bose, permaculture educator. Register for this free [...]
Projects Uncategorized

History of Collard City Growers

Collard City Growers is a volunteer-run food justice project where we connect arts and culture to growing a wealth of annuals and perennials including vegetables, medicinal herbs, natural dye plants, grains, and fruit trees. For the past decade, we have shared our homegrown harvest at neighborhood events that host hundreds of community members and passersby who come in search of nutrient dense food or “the best lettuce [they’ve] ever tasted.” During off-season, we share our harvest in the form of preserved greens, sauerkraut, pickles, and hot sauce.

We renovated a former carriage house on the lot, which we use as an indoor workshop space for building projects, a classroom for North Troy Environmental Education initiatives, a seed library, and a drying facility for herbs. We’ve held diverse workshops, sharing our knowledge of growing, composting, chicken rearing, bee raising, seed saving and other urban homesteading techniques with the public. The hoop house is one of the newest additions to the community garden space, where we experiment with alternative growing methods like raised beds, and integrated hydroponics and aquaponics systems to grow fish and greens without soil.

The values of food justice and environmental justice are integrated throughout our environmental education campus across one city block in North Central Troy.  Collard City Growers has blossomed from the original garden into an integrated network of growing spaces, transforming several other previously vacant lots including:

  • Freedom Square (an outdoor concert venue nestled in a growing food forest)
  • Food Cycle (the start of a community composting initiative) that is in transition as a outdoor living learning laboratory for our new NATURE Lab Environmental Education Center (housed in a long abandoned house next door)
  • L-lot, a space to focus on creating a habitat for pollinators, experimenting with bio-remediation and urban permaculture.

These green spaces have given us an opportunity to work together physically and provide a platform from which to educate the public about the health of our community and ecology as it relates to food. Aside from growing plants and feeding our community, we hope that Collard City Growers and complementing landscapes become places where people ‘grow’ themselves by learning new skills, connecting with neighbors, and sharing their stories as a means to aid community progress.


Coronavirus Statement for The Sanctuary for Independent Media

The escalating concerns about the spread of Coronavirus/Covid-19 have led to extraordinary measures.

For the well-being of our audience, staff, and artists, facilities at The Sanctuary for Independent Media have been closed, employees are working from home, and all in-person public activities scheduled through September 2020 have been cancelled or postponed. We are  maintaining our broadcast and online operations in the meantime.

We are closely monitoring this situation and will continue to follow the lead of local, state, and federal authorities as well as the decisions of individual artists so we can respond to changing conditions.

We will provide ongoing updates as necessary. Stay safe!

[CANCELLED] Chickens Workshop: Building a Hoop House and Chicken Care Basics!

[CANCELLED] Chickens Workshop: Building a Hoop House and Chicken Care Basics!
Sunday 04/05/2020 - 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Join us for an afternoon building a safe coop for the chickens at Collard City Growers!