City Seeking Partners for Urban Farms on NYCHA Land

By Genevieve Belmaker, Epoch Times
September 11, 2013 8:54 pm Last Updated: September 11, 2013 9:04 pm

NEW YORK—A pilot urban farm project in Red Hook will be used as the example for creating similar projects throughout the city. The one-acre Red Hook Urban Farm launched in June this year is the first large-scale urban farm on New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) land.

The housing authority has a long history with public gardening programs. Its program is the largest in the nation according to NYCHA, with 650 community-garden plots.

The city announced that it is seeking nonprofit organizations to work with that would provide urban farming assistance at five NYCHA developments throughout the city. Proposals must be in by mid-October.

The city government characterizes urban farming as an anti-obesity and health measure. At the June launch of the Red Hook Urban Farm, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs noted that anti-obesity initiatives have been a key part of the Bloomberg administration’s strategy to create more access to healthy food and to fight poverty.

A green jobs training program is one of the farm’s functions—something the city hopes to replicate when the new farms start next year.

The urban farms are not intended as a free source of fresh produce for the communities where they are based. Instead, the model established with the Red Hook farm has them function as a center for education, job training, and community engagement.

The produce, which is either sold at farmers markets or donated to needy families, is a source of revenue for stipends that go to members of the nonprofit group maintaining the project.

Creating urban farms is one of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 26 Obesity Task Force initiatives. Through the task force, capital funding was allocated to NYCHA to install the farms.