New York City Urban Agriculture – 2010 in review
Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farm business in Long Island City, NY. Photo by Cyrus Dowlatshahi via The Greenest.
Roundup of news from “The Greenest – Superlative Ideas for a Sustainable Future”
By Derek Denckla
January 3, 2011
What is new now about urban agriculture is increasing numbers of farmers and widening diversity of experiments motivated by intersecting crises in climate change and in public health.
A majority of urban agriculture projects gaining public attention are less than a few years old. There are many bold experiments that are untested with farmers who are new to their profession. So the urban farmer story will begin to evolve from “newness” to a theme of “sustainability.” With so many commentators and communicators recognizing the newfound importance of urban agriculture, I wonder what will happen in this next phase of its development which will be less glamorous, harder to track and thus commanding of less immediately gratifying attention.
There are some strong signs that urban agriculture is not disappearing with the next news cycle. Myriad meetup groups have sprouted up, supporting each others’ mutual learning and doing — from Permaculture practitioners to Beekeepers. The New School has created a field of Food Studies and spearheaded a whole series of public conversations through December 2010, entitled Living Concrete. My own project, FarmCity.US, continues to evolve, grappling with fresh ways to support the growth of urban agriculture. There are hundreds of urban agriculture blogs and even an Urban Farm Magazine. And this Fall, Just Food announced the opening of its Farm School NYC to train a new generation of urban farmers who will learn more than a few superficial attributes of an “Urban Farmer” Halloween costume. (FYI: Applications due November 15!)
So, I am greatly encouraged that urban agriculture may be growing forceful advocates and knowledgeable farmers who may help shape the evolution of the movement in a sustainable and thoughtful way, resisting identification as mere costumed clichés.