716 Transformers: The Gardener

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on

Renata Toney is the Vice President of Destination Experience here at Visit Buffalo Niagara. Her off-hours passion is gardening and her home features gardens in the front and back and container gardens along her driveway and behind her home – it’s both lush oasis and a place for entertaining in summer and autumn. Her garden is featured on the East Side Garden Walk, one of Buffalo’s annual self-guided tours; Toney is co-chair of the Walk. “I learned many years ago that having a garden in your life brightens your world,” she says. “Every year when the weather warms up, I cannot share how excited I get to start a new adventure in my garden. One thing it does for me is it boosts my mood, and it makes me feel great; after spending hours in my yard pulling weeds and planting, my demeanor is far brighter. I know when I’m feeling brighter that that light can be cast onto all the other things that I do outside of gardening, whether it’s working on community projects, or serving on five local boards that do a number of amazing things to advance the city. Our city has certainly come a long way. When people see my garden, they say it’s beautiful and, while I’m grateful for those wonderful compliments, I do it all for my own therapeutic power. I was very involved in Re-Tree WNY and volunteered as a tree planter every fall and spring; I did a course through Cornell Cooperative Extension so that I could take care of the trees planted in my neighborhood.”

716 Tips

“I suggest attending the presentations of jazz music in MLK Park; this year is a special year because the series pays tribute to women in jazz. All of the headliners this summer are female international acts. The concerts happen right behind Charles Drew Magnet School, and there’s no bad seat in the house, just bring your lawn chair. There are food vendors, and my favorite is M.S. Goody’s – they sell barbecue, crab legs, ribs, a full range of soul food favorites. MLK Park is a beautiful Olmsted Park, and the concerts are relaxing.”

Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

Nancy is a social documentation photographer based in Buffalo, NY.