Urban Agriculture Potential: Report
Source: The City Fix
Sembradores Urbanos in Mexico City, photo by K. Archdeacon
From “New Report: The Potential for Urban Agriculture” by Itir Sonuparlak:
A new report by the Urban Design Lab (UDL) of Columbia University’s Earth Institute explores the potential for urban agriculture in New York City. The report, “The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City,” complements the existing discussion on sustainable cities. Developing agricultural spaces within or near urban areas has a great potential to reduce food transportation costs and environmental effects, as well as provide opportunities for economic development and diminish the disparities in access to healthy foods. In order to become a viable option to food production for the masses, urban agriculture must overcome challenges of scalability, energy efficiency and labor costs.
To understand the capacity of New York City’s crop production, UDL’s report aims to answer how much land could be productively used for agriculture and how much crop could realistically be grown in the given land. When it comes to the benefits of urban agriculture in New York City, the study also considers factors like food security, storm water runoff and sewer overflow mitigation, urban heat island effect, energy consumption, waste reduction, as well as opportunities for composting for agricultural purposes.
The study highlights 12 key findings:
- Urban agriculture can play a critical role as productive green urban infrastructure.
- Urban agriculture can play an important role in community development.
- There is a substantial amount of land potentially available for urban agriculture in NYC.
- Intensive growing methods adapted to urban spaces can result in yields per acre which greatly exceed those of conventional production techniques.
- While urban agriculture cannot supply the entire city with all of its food needs, in certain neighborhoods it can significantly contribute to food security.
- There is a need for cost/benefit analyses that reflect the full complexity of the city’s social and environmental challenges.
- NYC’s rooftops are a vast, underused resource that could be transformed for food production.
- Bureaucratic challenges are a major barrier to the expansion of urban farming.
- Existing infrastructure has the potential to support the expansion of urban agriculture.
- Urban farmers are establishing viable businesses by taking advantage of multiple revenue streams.
- Urban agriculture is part of a broader horticultural approach to urban greening that encompasses more than fruits and vegetables.
- Urban agriculture functions as a catalyst for larger food system transformations.
Read the full article by Itir Sonuparlak for a summary of the above points, or download the report.