Green Visions is a two-part program based on a vision for a healthier Rochester. Greentopia’s mission is to celebrate, educate and promote sustainability in all its forms for better living, stronger communities and a healthier planet.


One of the most pressing issues in many of Rochester’s low-income neighborhoods is the dearth of sources for nutritious food. In addition, City of Rochester policy does not allow one to grow food crops directly in the soil on any city-owned property. The result of this is the need to build raised-beds and import soil in order to develop an urban garden on any of the many vacant lots that populate these neighborhoods. The additional cost of such construction stops most projects before they start.

A second issue that affects most young people living in these same neighborhoods is the lack of opportunities to gain any work experience. This sets them behind their suburban counterparts when trying to enter the world of work.

Greentopia, in an effort to work with our neighbors, has launched a phytoremediation/workforce development program in the JOSANA Neighborhood in the NW quadrant of the city in May 2013. Our ultimate goal is to work with the Rochester City Council to revisit their policy concerning vacant lots and growing produce directly in the soil. We understand that this is a complex issue that involves mandates from other governmental bodies, but we have assembled a research team of professionals who will help lend credibility to our findings. We hope to provide an inexpensive way to clean tainted soil to a point where it is acceptable to grow food crops by using hyper-accumulating plants. If successful, this could be replicated throughout the city, thus opening up opportunities for anyone who would like to have an urban garden or even an urban farm. The result would be availability of more nutritious food, which would lead to a healthier diet for many.

Community Engagement

The program will work as follows: Greentopia will lease two vacant lots in the JOSANA Neighborhood.  We will enroll 6-8 young women into our workforce development program. 5-6 soil samples will be taken on each lot and tested for contaminants such as lead. The most tainted soil will be planted with Indian Mustard, Juncea brassica, one of the most aggressive hyper-accumulating plants available. The balance of the soil will be planted with seed for cut flowers, including sunflowers. The lots will be maintained throughout the season by the Green Visions program. When the cut flowers begin to appear, the young women will harvest them several times a week for sale at the Public Market. During the summer, when maintenance slows down, the young women will participate in a variety of workshops, such as financial Literacy, Basic Horticulture and Small Business Management.  At the end of the season, the soil with the hyper-accumulators will be re-tested. Plant tissue samples will also be taken to see if there has been any movement of contaminants out of the soil and into the plants. A final report will be prepared using the test results.

Get Involved

While we will work towards making this program as economically sustainable as possible through earned revenue from flower sales, we have expenses that a for-profit business would not. Our goal is to provide 50% of our funding through earned revenue. As a workforce development program, we offer daily case management and mentoring to our participant. In addition, we overstaff in an effort to provide these services to as many people as possible at one time. For this reason, we will always require a certain level of support from the community.

If you would like to donate to this program, please click the donate tab below. We are very grateful for any level of support you are able to share.

Buy Some Flowers

And, please, look for Green Visions at the Public Market and around the area to purchase your fresh flowers while helping a group of young women learn what it takes to be a successful employee and start down the path towards self-sufficiency.