NYC’s Department of Environmental Protection recently funded three new urban agriculture projects
Breaking New Ground
By Nevin Cohen And Kubi Ackerman
New York Times (Mark Bittman)
New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently funded three new urban agriculture projects: a rooftop garden at a settlement house, a vegetable garden near the Gowanus Canal and a commercial rooftop farm atop a Brooklyn Navy Yard building. These projects are part of an innovative green infrastructure program to turn impervious roofs, vacant lots and streets into spaces that soak up the rain and prevent water pollution. Supporting urban farms and gardens as a means of keeping our waterways clean is an excellent idea, and should be dramatically scaled up.
DEP’s green infrastructure program represents a unique opportunity for New York City to substantially expand its already robust network of urban farms and community gardens while simultaneously tackling the CSO problem. There are nearly 2,000 acres of vacant land in the areas contributing to sewage overflows, mostly impervious surfaces. There are also thousands of buildings that could support rooftop farms. Interest in growing food locally is at an all-time high, and gardeners, farmers, entrepreneurs, and farming organizations would jump at the chance to have access to additional space to farm. In locales such as the Bronx River watershed, in which CSO problems coincide with limited food access, the benefits to the environment and to public health would be substantial.