6 recommendations for NYC's new director of urban agri
Added on 22 September 2022
I was hoping to get a job at one of the exciting startups in the Big Apple and had an interview lined up with BrightFarms. While I didn't get the job, I stuck around to volunteer at Harlem Grown, intern at Sky Vegetables, and study at Columbia University under Dr. Dickson Despommier, who first popularized vertical farming. Eventually, I recruited an amazing team and launched Agritecture as a global advisory firm for all things urban agriculture. To date, we have worked on nearly 200 projects in more than 40 countries, giving us a unique perspective on how cities can foster a thriving urban agriculture community.
I am excited and proud to see that NYC is finally stepping up its focus on urban agriculture with the announcement of a new office of urban agriculture. This means that there will be a renewed interest in urban agriculture across the city, more funding for projects, and a dedicated leader to focus on the city's climate & resilience strategies. As someone with over a decade of experience (much of it in NYC) and extensive policy advisory experience with the Agritecture team between NYC, Atlanta, Dallas, Paris, Amsterdam, Doha, Singapore, and Auckland, I want to share ideas and encourage the new NYC Director of Urban Agriculture. So, here are my top 6 recommendations for the future Director of Urban Agriculture of NYC:
1. Protect our Community & School Gardens
NYC has a long history of community gardens, and with over 600 spread across the city, these represent an important foundation for the growth of urban agriculture. Despite providing green spaces, safe community environments, affordable food, green infrastructure, increased neighborhood real estate value, and biodiversity, these gardens are still not protected. Most of them utilize temporary leases preventing longer-term investment in staff, materials, and development, which they need to achieve their full potential.
Photo: Parks' Five Borough Administrative Building's green roof. Image sourced from NYC Gov Parks.