Urban Farming.... 10 organizations that are making New York City greener and healthier
By Bryan Mason
Urban areas and farms generally represent vastly different lifestyles. Combining the two might seem difficult—but it can be done. New York is home to many urban farms that have embraced the challenge of protecting our natural environment and, in doing so, are making our city a little bit greener.
- The family-owned and -operated Urban Garden Center, which grows organic plants, is the leading supplier of garden supplies and plants in New York City. It also provides services like garden design, maintenance and installation throughout the metro area.
- Harlem Grown promotes sustainability in New York by encouraging upcoming generations to live greener, healthier lives. Through their urban farms, they provide nutritious foods to nearby residents and offer garden-based developmental programs to Harlem youth.
- The urban farm division of Randall Island Park Alliance operates a 40,000-square-foot garden with a mission to display an agricultural lifestyle in an urban setting. The park offers classes that teach local children and families how their food choices affect their health, the environment and the community.
- Brooklyn Grange is the leading rooftop farming and intensive green roofing business in the United States, growing more than 80,000 pounds of organically cultivated produce every year. In addition to growing and distributing fresh vegetables and herbs, the Grange provides educational programming to the tri-state area and consulting services worldwide. As if that weren’t enough, it also operates an apiary, which cares for bees and naturally managed hives around the city.
- Farm.One takes a technology-based, vertical farming approach to grow perishable crops in a controlled environment, using LED lighting to make every day the perfect summer day for their plants. This kind of farming mitigates the risk of contamination and pollution and the need for pesticides. Farm.One also uses recycled water, produces minimal waste and delivers fresh produce within hours of harvest.
- In the wake of the 2003-09 excavation of the Battery’s woodland, including the removal of more than 80 mature trees, The Battery Urban Farm was created to help heal the wound. Now the farm educates and empowers our community to make healthier eating choices and plant perennial gardens. Its mission is to inspire organic food cultivation and proper waste management.
- Square Roots Urban Growers is a foundation for next-gen leaders in urban farming. With society adopting greener lifestyles, future entrepreneurs in urban agriculture can take advantage of this opportunity to help our city progress for years to come.
- In addition to being a national historic landmark, the New York Botanical Garden provides education through horticulture and plant science programs. It also conducts wide-ranging research led by the International Plant Science Center and offers beautiful displays of its natural collections through its gardens and landscapes.
- United Community Centers created the East New York Farms project to address food injustice in our city. Their efforts to build local, sustainable agriculture and community-led economic development are powered by the many youth, farmers, gardeners and entrepreneurs who share the same goals.
- Green Thumb, a program created by NYC Parks, is the largest community gardening program in the nation, offering programming and material support to more than 550 community gardens in New York. Located in all five boroughs, these green spaces are used for relaxation, community meetings, full-fledged farming or a mix of everything.
As the trend toward sustainable urban agriculture grows, the line between urban living and farming gets a little blurrier. Thanks to these 10 organizations, and many other farms and gardens within our city, we now know that anyone can make this push toward a greener lifestyle.
Bryan Mason is a Freelance Journalist with a B.S. in Mass Communication from Towson University. His passion for the mind-body approach to healthy living extends to his work as a personal trainer in the Baltimore, MD area. Contact him at [email protected].