Urban Farming in the Public Interest

Posted: October 25th, 2009 | Author:

Source: RUAF – Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture & Food Security

THINK GLOBALLY!  Mega cities need mega tons of food to survive.  Urban farming responds to a growing need as mega cities — like New York City — continue to expand around the world.  Urban farming can help increase the availability, access and quality of food for city dwellers.  

ACT LOCALLY?   Why promote the growth of urban agriculture in New York City?

A recent NYC report, Food in the Public Interest, issued by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, suggests that “urban food production” in NYC is one crucial strategy to address a broad spectrum of related local food issues.  The report outlines three major reasons why urban agriculture may be seen as increasingly important in improving the quality and quantity of good, fresh food to urbanites:

(1) “The Environment: Common commercial farm practices such as using chemicals and aggregating livestock in small spaces can contribute to air pollution.  Further, food that travels extraordinarily long distances from farm to plate requires more food, [packaging], storage and refrigeration all of which consume energy [and other resources].”     [Text in brackets added by The Greenest].

(2) “Public Health: Locally grown and distributed food is likely to be fresher, more nutritious, less subject to intensive pesticide use and less processed.”  

Note: The report emphasizes that NYC has a looming and serious health threat of epidemic proportions represented by the steady rise in the incidence of both diabetes and obesity in populations that generally lack access to affordable fresh food close to home. 

(3) The Economy: Enhancing the local food system would create more opportunities for local employment at all levels.  Urban agriculture could also contribute to food security for the City’s neediest.

In addition to these excellent points, The Greenest would add some of its own in support of promoting urban agriculture:

(4) Heat Island Effect – Cities are sometimes called “heat islands” because they are hotter than surrounding areas.    Greenery –like urban agriculture– helps reduce the “heat island effect” by cooling cities down, thereby reducing electricity used by air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.  

(5) Waste Water –   Green spaces absorb more rainfall reducing the amount of stormwater in the city sewage system.  Green spaces can also be irrigated by so-called “grey water” filtered from water produced by stormwater runoff, showers, sinks, diswashers and clothes washers, reducing loads on city sewage systems and doubling the benefits received from fresh water.

(6) Solid Waste  –  Gardens can create and use compost derived from solid waste to fertilize — diminishing the costs, energy and environmental impacts of a portion of the city’s solid waste production.

(7) Psychological benefits – Plants make people happy.  It’s a fact.  It’s a well established human response called “biophilia.”  More plants will make more people happy.  

(8)  “Foodie” Culture – NYC is one of the cultural food capitals of the world, home to many a sundry “foodie.”  Food is the second most talked-about topic in NYC — after real estate.  However, NYC produces less and less of its own food outside of restaurant kitchens.  The growth of urban agriculture will form part of a growing and intensifying local food culture that emphasizes better taste and better health together.  

Through my exploration of Urban Agriculture, I aim to understand what motivates the urban farmer to till the soil — the challenges and opportunities.  In the upcoming posts, I will look at other industries that are part of the “food system” that could be a source of increased productivity and market penetration for urban agriculture.

Filed under: Composting, Food Security, Green Roofs, Uncategorized, Urban Agriculture, Urban Farming, Urban Planning, Water Conservation | Tags: Air Pollution, , Biophilia, , Energy, , , , , Gardens, , , , Heat island Effect, , , , , , , , Public Health, , , , , | No Comments »

Urban Agriculture: Expanding the Harvest

Posted: October 19th, 2009 | Author:

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It’s harvest time in the Northern Hemisphere.  

Late Fall may be one of the only times of year that urbanites become fleetingly aware that a portion of their food is grown locally. City folk trudge out-of-town, snarling rural traffic in search of scenic apple orchards and pumpkin patches and <<gulp>> corn mazes.

How would our relationship to food change if it was growing in our own neighborhood? 

The locavore, slow food movement — sparked by the likes of Michael Pollan and Alice Waters — has ignited a popular consciousness of the importance of fresh food harvested close to home.  

What about food grown even more locally, harvested within city limits?  

Farmers’ Markets now abound in every neighborhood in New York City and in cities around the country.  Restaurant menus spill over with names of farms and farmers supplying greens, cheese, and beef.  

How about a market or a menu dedicated to produce grown on the rooftops down the street?

My new Urban Agriculture project for “The Greenest,” will delve into answers to questions like these.

My aim is to identify  means and methods of urban agriculture which may be scaled as a feasible food source for all urbanites in the near future to provide “Fresh Food For All”!   

Much of current popular writing on urban agriculture is devoted to the individual backyard gardener.   Some of these personal experiments have broader implications.  

In addition, there are many new exciting enterprises exploring innovative approaches to wider applications for urban agriculture policy and practice.   We need to begin to view these experiments less as pet projects and more as blueprints for a sustainable future.

Filed under: Uncategorized, Urban Agriculture | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Greenest Is Coming!

Posted: October 3rd, 2009 | Author:

 

The Greenest!

Hello and Welcome to the launch of TheGreenest.Net, a new project by Derek Denckla.  

 ”Superlative Ideas for a Sustainable Future”  is our motto.

Urban Agriculture will be the focus for 2009, exploring best practices and innovation for a large scale market.

I intend to create a dialogue to inspire action by delving into “one big topic” for a solid block of time.  

Time period: Topic “ripeness,” when all angles and nooks have been illuminated.

The Greenest hopes to send off a few sparks that might continue to inspire us to re-align our relationship to each other and our shared environment.

Comments make The Greenest a dialogue, so let the spirit move you.  Really!  Speak Up! 

Coming Soon: Superlative No.1: “Why Urban Agriculture?” hitting the screen-o-sphere sometime in the next week or so. 

Thanks for tuning in. . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized, Urban Agriculture, Urban Farming | Tags: , , Future, , , , | No Comments »
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