Opinion Piece – Urban Farms
Sarah Kabalkin HMGT 4990 – Section D456
Professor Hellermann New York City College of Technology
June 25, 2014
As information regarding the conditions of our current food system slowly reaches the people of the United States, the reality of the situation at hand is spurring the conscious into action. Since people have become increasingly more aware of the health issues and environmental concerns that plague our current food sources, increasing the development of sustainable urban farms appears to not only be a responsible decision but a necessary one as well. While the urban gardens found around New York City have all been created for different purposes, such as retail, whole-sale, proprietary use and even donations, the concept that is shared is a “. . . vision for a local, urban farm operation that could offer New Yorkers the freshest and highest quality culinary ingredients . . .” (Gotham Greens, 2014).
However the nutritional values of local, fresh, pesticide free and herbicide free fruits and vegetables should not over shadow the benefits urban farms have on our environment. After all, an “urban population that depends entirely on distant rural farms will also place even greater demands on our infrastructure” (Allen, 2012). While agribusiness’ mass production of produce continues to damage our land, contaminate our water table and deplete our aquifers, sustainable food systems encourage the elimination of dependence on fossil fuels while fostering a connection between food waste and food production through such techniques as composting, water conservation, minimal fertilizer inputs…Urban gardens and farms around the city are doing their part to create and promote sustainability whenever and wherever possible.
“Inspired by innovation and technology; driven by a sense of duty to address ecological issues facing our agricultural system” (Gotham Greens, 2014), Gotham Greens produces 100 tons of pesticide-free produce annually, which is distributed to various supermarkets throughout the city, as well as wholesale relationships with several local restaurants. The Waldorf Astoria’s roof top garden contains six beehives, cherry trees, fig trees, strawberries, tomatoes, hops and a huge assortment of fresh herbs; that are used by Culinary Director David Garcelon as enticing additions to the dishes served within the hotels three restaurants. “Snug Harbor’s Heritage Farm was established to help feed, inspire, and educate the local community.” (Heritage Farm, 2014). With roughly two acres of self-sustaining farm land, the Heritage farm produces 1500 pounds of produce per week during peak season; half of which is donated to the local charity Project Hospitality for its food pantries and soup kitchen. The remaining fifty percent is sold to locally sourced restaurants in Brooklyn and Staten Island as well as to the public from the Farm Stand located on the grounds of Snug Harbor (Sherry, 2012).
Granted, the financial reasoning behind the creation of these farms alternates between humanitarian aid, selective marketing, and profitable gain, all three have taken on the responsibility of educating the public on the importance of sustainable agriculture. While the Waldorf Astoria caters to the wealthy, Gotham Greens to savvy shoppers of varied income and Snug Harbor’s Heritage Farm to both the local community and to those with limited resources; together they are effectively getting the message out to the public that change is necessary and the taste is not only morally satisfying but absolutely delicious!
ON ANOTHER NOTE:
To all people interested in these issues, here are the 10 best sustainable food apps according to The Guardian
Brooklyn Grange Urban Farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard has a very important impact to the local people and our surroundings, since it improves the relations and interactions between us and the environment we live in. As an example the farm contributes to New York City’s green space and the world’s ecology.
This practice of growing and delivering of food locally it is an amazing source for citizens to get fresh and nutritious vegetables; but most importantly, is the fact that consumers know the products they are obtaining are coming from. In some cases the consumer might even collaborate with the vegetable cultivation; this in itself makes a huge difference for anyone who values the food they are about to consume. People would like to check the vegetable cultivation process step by step are welcome to do so, which give them more credibility. City farmers have the ability to improve our urban quality of life, creating a viable industry in the city and creating a new culture among New Yorkers.
This project makes the area surrounding them more sustainable, allowing local citizens an easier way to get real food and concede people the opportunity to develop a closer relationship with nature. I strongly believe these types of farms are very educational. As we got to observe in the Brooklyn Grange Urban Farm, there are egg-laying hens and an apiary which is fantastic for those who may have never had a country side or farming life experience. The fact that this grange is located in the rooftop helps the vegetables to be protected from the street pollution. This new farm concept allows job opportunities for both city and country side residents and it creates an environmental and agricultural desire for education among people, who probably love the rural life but due to lack of time or resources could not visit a country farm yet. I see urban farms as a prosperous business; the space also lends itself for romantic events, movie shots, etc. Without a doubt, this makes the place a more sustainable place to live around.