Book of the Moment: Five Borough Farm
Last night the Design Trust for Public Space and project partner Added Value celebrated the launch of Five Borough Farm: Seeding the Future of Urban Agriculture in New York City . The book, which is accompanied by a website. surveys the more than 700 citywide farms and gardens that grow food; metrics are outlined toward gauging the success of urban agriculture; and the project is aimed at affecting policy, so that farms and gardens will be formally recognized and supported in the city. Much more will follow from the Design Trust and Added Value in the next year, but the book is a watershed in examining the benefits of urban agriculture. A review of the book on this blog is forthcoming.
Need for Five Borough Farm
Urban agriculture is booming in New York City, with more than 700 food-producing urban farms and gardens citywide. In all five boroughs, New Yorkers have turned vacant lots and rooftops, schoolyards and NYCHA gardens into places to grow food. But urban agriculture also encompasses a wide range of other activities: participants earn income at farmers markets, capture stormwater, compost food waste, gain leadership and job skills, learn about nutrition and the environment, and create safe, attractive public spaces. These activities contribute to many citywide health, social, economic, and ecological benefits, as
well as to the goals of municipal agencies and elected officials.
Yet while many government agencies are engaged in urban agriculture, there is no citywide policy or plan to coordinate actions across agencies, and few systematic efforts to track the full range of urban agricultural activities that take place at the city’s farms and gardens.
In 2009, the Design Trust for Public Space issued an open call for projects to improve public space in New York City, receiving twenty submissions from organizations citywide. The nonprofit organization Added Value (with the assistance of the design firm thread collective) submitted a proposal to address urban agriculture. This proposal was one of two selected by an independent jury of architects, policy experts, open space advocates, and Design Trust board members for the Design Trust to take on as a project.
- Survey and document New York City’s existing urban agricultural activity using photographs, maps, and infographics.
- Establish a shared framework and tools to enable farmers and gardeners to track urban agricultural activity and evaluate their social, health, economic, and ecological benefits.
- Develop policy recommendations that will help make urban agriculture a more permanent part of the city’s landscape and governance.