How Does Urban Farming Fit into the Big Picture?

Irmak Turan discusses agriculture's place in the city, as seen by a handful of Brooklyn activists. From stormwater absorption to community ties, these farms provide more than just fresh food for earthy hipsters.

Advocates of urban farming gathered in Williamsburg late last month to explore the roles that agriculture can play in a concrete jungle. Moderated by Nicola Twilley of Edible Geography, the panel featured leaders of projects and organizations related to urban farms, with focuses as varied as infrastructure and documentary art.

Presenters Tyler Caruso and Erik Facteau began the discussion with an overview of Seeing Green, an effort to measure just how much rainwater urban farms can capture, fighting stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflows. "They noted there is a lack of data-driven research on urban farms that can help to secure incentives and support from the City," Turan explains. "For example, rooftop farms are currently ineligible for the City's green roof tax credit, despite providing the same environmental benefits as non-agricultural green roofs."

Other members of the panel, representing urban farms like BK Farmyards and Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, discussed the role their groups play in communities beyond merely providing produce to local grocery stores and restaurants. "BK Farmyards runs a Go Green elective course for HSPS 10th graders, in which students learn how to farm and acquire leadership skills by running the Youth Farm weekly farmers market and CSA," reports Turan." In addition to the class, Youth Farm supports an after school farm club, monthly community volunteer days, a student internship program, and an adult apprenticeship program."

"Farms in the city can serve as a catalyst for larger change, whether in social justice or addressing larger urban environmental issues like CSOs."

Full Story: Gardener on the Roof: Examining Urban Farming

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