HOW OUR GARDENS GROW NYC
Manhattan Borough President Gale had a press event on the steps of city hall to celebrate a just issued new report on Urban Agriculture
New report on urban agriculture, How our Gardens Grow.
My office has just issued How Our Gardens Grow, a report with recommendations for helping grow the urban agriculture movement. New York City is home to an array of urban plots, hydroponic farms, and greenhouses in addition to more than 170 community gardens. This “urban agriculture” yields tremendous benefits for our neighborhoods, our economy, and the environment: it teaches valuable skills and sustainably produces fresh, healthy, locally-grown food.
In addition, my office is committing funding of up to $1 million in grants to establish or expand urban agriculture projects in schools and will sponsor an Urban Farming Symposium this fall in cooperation with Cornell University Cooperative Extension.
I would like to thank Borough President Gale Brewer for producing this important report, which is both a cogent description of the state of urban farming in NYC and an action plan to help realize more of its potential. At Project FIND where I serve as the Executive Director we are blessed with both housing resources and community centers targeted to older adults. This fortunate combination allowed us to connect the roof of one building to the senior center below – a hive of energy and potentiality just waiting to be tapped.
Project FIND Executive Director David Gillcrist was there along with Natasha from our Hamilton Rooftop Farming Group and followed the announcement with some thoughts on our own fantastic foray into urban farming ...
The synergy was a no brainer: the produce grown and harvested on the roof became an opportunity for skill development, community building, as well as the raw material for meals served at our center or incorporated into our interactive cooking class, Food for Thought.
Natasha was part of a dedicated crew of gardeners who came every week from May till late October to tend, harvest and to plan the next phase. There really are very few things as gratifying as seeing your efforts transformed into something living and useful over time.
Last year was our first year and we learned many important lessons together – Project FIND center members and staff – crop selection, germination processes, ph-testing and balancing, how to protect better against the elements. We have just started our second season, which promises to be even more bountiful, because the gardeners are eager to resume their work.
The Borough President’s report identifies key constraints to the expansion of these efforts, which we also faced. Lack of funding and technical expertise being just two of them. But these barriers can be lifted with smart, targeted investments, skill pooling and information sharing.
And this could be the future ...