Is the Future of Farming Vertical

New findings of operations that can benefit from “vertical farms”? Vertical food production can take advantage of stranded assets, such as old thermal power plants. Urban food production can offer to more consumers local fresh food produced sustainably with less waste.


America is having to rethink where and how it produces its food. In the 21st century, the U.S. food system is likely to change even more than it did in the past century. Because of climate change, major production areas such as California will experience extremes in temperature and precipitation, generally growing hotter and drier — and all at a pace that appears to be happening sooner than predicted.

The U.S. food system needs to diversify production. But instead of expanding into grasslands or areas already used for other crops, we should think about growing food at scale in big cities. Would our food system benefit from “vertical farms”? And if so, can we seize an opportunity to use existing, stranded assets?
Vertical farms are usually indoor operations with stacked or wall-like planters that leverage networked technology to monitor and nourish plants precisely, often without the use of soil. At least 100 vertical food production startups are in U.S. cities, but few take advantage of stranded assets, such as old thermal power plants.
Thermal power plants have qualities that make them inherently amenable to vertical farming. They consume about 45 to 50 percent of all the water used to cool plants during power generation. Disposing of the hot water is both a nuisance and a cost. Heat, water, energy and captured slipstream emissions are all byproducts of energy generation and could be available for producing food.There are social advantages, too. In most urban areas, thermal power plants are surrounded by low-value brownfields that have little or no productive use. Many have had to be been taken over by cities for back taxes, and they are usually in “food deserts” — poor neighborhoods with little to no access to grocery stores with fresh produce. These areas could benefit from vertical farms and fresh produce.

Vertical farming can create business opportunities. The centralization and specialization of food production have put considerable distance between consumers and their food, both figuratively and literally. By creating vertical, urban food production, we can narrow that gap and give more consumers what they want: local food produced more transparently and sustainably, with less waste and fewer impacts.

Many parties have vested interests in the answers:
Power companies can benefit from added value; retailers can benefit from shorter supply chains and reduced waste; government agencies can improve local food systems; communities can eliminate their food deserts; tech companies can drive research and development, and academics and research institutions can build capacity about new ways to grow our food.

Source: GreenBiz

Apple Now Runs on Green Energy

A true achievement for Apple, to hit the magic 100% goal of running all its facilities and its worldwide fleet of Apple stores solely powered by renewable energy.


The achievement of green energy is the culmination of a furious effort over the past six years that involved financing, building, or locating new renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind farms, near the company’s facilities. Apple says it now has 25 operational renewable energy projects–with 15 more now in construction–in 11 countries. Just eight years ago, only 16% of its facilities were powered by renewable energy. By 2015 that number had increased to 93%, then to 96% in 2016.

Along the way, in 2013, Apple signaled its seriousness about green initiatives by hiring former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson as VP of the environment, policy, and social initiatives. CEO Tim Cook wanted Jackson to focus Apple’s environmental initiatives, and perhaps act as a respected emissary to Washington, D.C. She’s done both.

The overarching goal of Apple going 100% green is, of course, is to reduce harmful emissions from dirty fuels. The company says it’s reduced its greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) by 58% since 2011, preventing 2.2 million metric tons of CO2e from entering the atmosphere. But Apple’s own progress as measured by the numbers isn’t the only point. In places where it has facilities, the company has often been a catalyst, working with local utilities and regulators to build new solar or wind farms that pump new green power onto the public grid. Jackson told me Apple especially likes to do this in markets where the majority of the existing energy comes from ecologically unfriendly sources like coal or oil. “It’s an approach that’s really important because you’re growing the clean energy market around you,” she says.

Lisa Jackson is optimistic about energy’s renewable future. “As the markets continue to develop, I don’t see anything that’s going to stop the trajectory toward lower-carbon energy worldwide,” she says. “At some point, you’ll just see countries doing it.” When they do, Apple, along with other tech giants, will deserve some of the credit for getting the flywheel going–a contribution to the betterment of humanity which might well be as meaningful as any new gadget it will sell in its stores.

Source: Fast Company

PindFresh to Bring Urban Farming Revolution to India

Now, this is huge! Urban India is engaged in a true farming revolution: local organic food production from rooftop gardens to spaces between buildings and also indoor areas designated for farming.

The agritech startup Pindfresh is turning small plots or spaces between buildings or in buildings into usable farm space. From rooftop gardens to floors specifically designed to incorporate farming, to other spaces within ­­high-rises filled with racks of perfectly lined leaf vegetables, it is striving to bring about a farming revolution in urban India.

Apart from selling in-house home systems (hydroponic and others) and fresh produce (lettuce, rocket, basil, and mushrooms), it also runs programmes to train people (in schools and societies). By using hydroponics, cocopeat gardening, and other soilless techniques, Pindfresh is attempting to educate urban dwellers to use a technology which takes less space, demands lesser water and is completely free from pathogens and biological contaminants.

The urban population in India, which stands at 377 million, is expected to reach 600 million by 2031, according to a new UN-backed report. The increasing nutritional requirements of this fast-growing urban population will pose a huge challenge in the coming years. Due to the ever-increasing urban population and decreasing rural population that used to tend to frame as a traditional occupation, India imported $906.3 million (INR 5,897 Cr) worth of fruit and vegetables in 2016-17, while the figure in 2014-15 was $832 Mn (INR 5,414 Cr). As a result, Indian consumers are becoming victims of processed food as there is a wide gap in the supply and demand chain.


The startup is attempting to make cities holistic in their requirements of food and vegetation. To that end, it is working towards creating systems by which people will actually eat the local and fresh produce – just as if the food is coming directly from the Pind. Essentially, they offer three services: creating and selling systems for home and commercial use; producing food using Pindfresh systems and selling it and holding workshops. The startup is grossing over a monetization strategy that involves making the vegetable saplings available for procurement by offices and houses. They have two types of customers: one who buys the plants to grow the vegetables themselves and those who only buy the vegetables. Pindfresh is also selling to wholesale markets.


The Swedish Revolutionize Indoor Urban Farms


In Stockholm’s central Kungsholmen district, Owe Pettersson is hoping to sow the seeds of an indoor urban farm revolution. Pettersson is the chief executive of Plantagon, a new Stockholm-based urban farming venture set to kick off operations in the basement of an office block in the Swedish capital later this month.

“This will be one of the most advanced food factories located in a city that we have today,” says Pettersson, who has spent more than 25 years in the insurance and banking industries.
Plantagon’s early promises echo this nascent optimism. Pettersson calls the farm’s approach “agritechture”: the combination of agriculture, technology, and architecture hoping to revolutionize how we live and eat. The Swedish startup says it will be more efficient than similar enterprises. Plantagon plans to grow high-value foods ― mostly salads and herbs ― in a pumice-like substance rather than soil. Water for the plants is measured with scientific precision. It will also dehumidify the air and reuse any excess water to ensure zero waste.


The seedlings used for the indoor farm

In conventional agriculture, the amount of water required to produce a kilo of food can vary from about 130 liters (34 gallons) of lettuce to 3,400 liters (900 gallons) of rice. In contrast, Plantagon says it will only need to use one liter per kilo for its crops. Energy is also a major issue for indoor urban farms, which have to create artificial sunlight. Although advances in the efficiency of LED lights have helped bring down energy consumption in recent years, plants use only about 1 percent of the artificial light produced. This leads to a colossal waste of energy, most of which disappears as heat. Plantagon says it will capture around 70 percent of this unused heat in its 6,500-square-foot basement farm, and pipe it into the heating system of the office block above. Oxygen produced by the plants will be sent to office workers via the building’s air conditioners.

The firm’s recent crowdfunding campaign raised 4.4 million Swedish krona ($559,000) that will help its ambition to install up to nine more urban farms across Stockholm over the next three years. The inaugural farm, which cost about $863,000, was backed by a group of private investors. Plantagon also has a charitable arm, which owns 10 percent of the business and commits to invest in innovative for-profit companies that seek to address societal challenges. People can invest in “generation shares” in the charity that cannot be cashed for seven generations.

The firm’s confidence that it can be profitable rests in part on reducing expenses, with lower costs for energy and water, and savings on rent. Plantagon has negotiated a three-year, zero-rent deal in exchange for the heating and clean air that its farm provides to the building.


Source:  Huffington Post

Bowery Farming Takes Urban Farming to New Heights

Bowery Farming greenhouse in Kearny, New Jersey, has a farm-to-table idea that takes on a whole new meaning. Co-Founder and CEO Irving Fain told Moore. “I became obsessed with this question of, how do you provide fresh food to urban environments? And how do you do that in a more efficient and sustainable way?” Fain was to build vertical farms in the skyscraper-saturated land near big cities that aren’t threatened by rain, snow or drought. Fain co-developed a software that anticipates and provides a plant’s every need.

“They have the perfect environment, the perfect nutrient profile for the certain stage of the plant and the different type of crop. So in many ways, it’s emulating the absolute perfect environment at any moment for a plant all the time,” he said.

Lush, leafy greens and herbs grow without pesticides with the help of robotics, under LED lights that mimic the exact spectrum of sunlight crops would get outside on a good day. But where’s the soil?

“The plants actually have their roots dangling down and they dangle not only into the water but the water that’s filled with all the nutrients that the plants actually need,” said Fain.

Bowery Farming is located eight miles from New York City, which he says speeds up the time from harvest to purchase to one day, versus the typical transit time of two to three weeks. Because of its vertical orientation, Fain says they can produce 100 times more greens than a traditional outdoor farm occupying the same footprint. Right now, Bowery Farming only produce leafy greens and herbs, but Fain says the company is hoping to broaden its product line to include a variety of produce.

This article was from CBS News New York and which they talk about urban farming not needing sunlight, soil, or land.

Source: CBS New York

Are California Community Health Centers Prepared to Meet The Need For Future Change?

health center

An excerpt from Candace Baldwin, Director of Strategy, Aging in Community

California stands out as a proving ground for change. With its diverse geography, cultures, a mix of rural and urban populations, and wide disparities in income, the state faces many challenges in meeting the care needs of an aging population. Several of the state’s Federal Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) have established themselves as models of how to provide integrated care for the “whole person” through community partnerships, changes in processes, and a commitment to making the Affordable Care Act ’s new pay-for-performance model cost efficient.
Lifelong Medical Care in Berkeley, for example, pioneered integrated care and services for seniors more than 35 years ago, providing primary care, chronic disease screening and management, referrals to specialists, mental health services, social services resources, and health education through an array of hospital and community partnerships.

Meanwhile, Redwood Community Health Coalition, which serves Marin, Napa, Sonoma, and Yolo Counties, provides a model of integrated care through its Population Health Improvement Program. The program aims to improve patient health, enhance the patient experience, and reduce health care visits using a Care Coordination Medical Record that provides in-depth patient profiles and health care planning across an array of providers.
In Redding, Shasta Community Health Center demonstrates that partnerships and care coordination can happen in a rural and severely impoverished setting, too. The center provides coordinated care for the community’s homeless residents, has established partnerships with many northern California health clinics, and offers mental health services.

These age-friendly health systems offer us a model of how communities can expand health equity in traditionally underserved populations. As a 2009 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study outlined, “Making America healthier will require action at all levels of society. Individuals, communities, health care, businesses and unions, philanthropies, and local, state and the federal government must work together to improve our nation’s health.”

Does California have a real, nutritious, healthy system that can aid patients in health centers both physically and mentally? To this day there has not been enough support for the use of urban farming in health centers that create a more sustainable living for the elderly and build a more healthy lifestyle.

At Farm Urbana, we help health centers and communities develop sustainable solutions for serving the health and wellness needs of all residents. We provide an active training program that teaches residents how to cultivate nutritious produce.

Health centers are supplied with an easy to grow system that is eco-friendly and resourceful. We envision community centers to be more prosperous and sustainable and have the patients be more resilient in dealing with health issues by providing the power of edible garden solutions in their hands.

Do you believe California Health Centers should invest more on urban farming to improve health outcomes in the future?

Source: From an article that appeared on Capital Impact Partners blog on August 30, 2016.

Paris Fills Skylines with Rooftop Farms


Paris has taken the farm out of the field and planted parts of it onto its rooftops to make the city greener and more sustainable. This summer, metro operator RATP became one of the first companies to host a commercial farm on one of its roofs.

A sudden breeze carrying gentle notes of basil and mint envelops pedestrians walking by the RATP building at Place Lachambeaudie in the 12th arrondissement, a middle-class district located in the east of the French capital. Some passersby quickly lift their noses to try to figure out exactly where the fresh and appetising scents are coming from, but none seem able to locate the origin.

The scents are coming from the top of the grey and arch-shaped office building where Michel Desportes and Théo Manesse have been spending the better part of the afternoon harvesting row upon row of various types of organically-grown herbs ranging from violet-coloured basil to chocolate-and-banana-flavoured mint.

“It’s growing so much at the moment that we have to harvest every day,” Desportes, one of the founders of the start-up Aéromate which runs the farm, tells FRANCE 24. Bees and ladybugs constantly buzz around the plants, seemingly oblivious to the traffic and pollution on the streets down below.

The farm was started in July this year after a 2016 call by the City of Paris for a series of urban agriculture projects to make the city more environmentally sustainable. By 2020, Paris aims to have transformed 33 hectares, or 330,000 square metres, of its unused urban space into urban agriculture.

Although the commercial Lachambeaudie farm, which sprawls over a 450 square metre area and houses up to 5,000 plants, mainly focuses on growing fresh herbs, it also offers some seasonal fruits and vegetables. At the moment, this includes several different species of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and lettuce. This winter, Aéromate plans to cultivate crops like watercress, spinach, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and artichoke. Everything is grown hydroponically, a hydroculture method developed by the Inca and Aztec Indians and in which the plants are grown without any soil by using only mineral nutrient solutions in water solvent.

The decision by RATP to install and invest in the farm is part of its corporate mission to contribute to a more sustainable Paris. The group, which owns several buildings in the city, has identified 1.4 hectares (14,000 square meters) that it plans to transform into cultivated grounds by 2020.

“We wanted to do something with our unused rooftops – up until now they haven’t really served any particular purpose – and this concept turned out to be just the right thing for us.”

Aéromate is currently setting up a 180-square-metre farm, also on the roof of real estate group Tishman Speyer, at Place de la Bourse in central Paris, and is planning for a third commissioned by the City of Paris at the nearby Place de la République.

Aside from selling the herbs and produce to staff of the companies that own the buildings, Aéromate also offers its harvest on online platforms such as “La Ruche qui dit oui!”, which connects local producers with consumers directly. Aéromate has also begun doing business with local restaurants and bars, of which two of its current customers are Michelin-starred eateries. As the business grows, Aéromate expects to harvest up to 31 tons of herbs, fruits and vegetables each year.

“It feels good to work up here. I feel lucky to be surrounded by all these green plants while actually working in the centre of the city,” Desportes says.


Source: France 24

Smart Cities: The Future Way of Living


Article written by Arvin Varshney

How often have you wondered what a smart city was? How often do you get asked the same question? Most likely you’d say: more often than I’d like.

Most attempts to define smart cities start with features of smart cities and end up how they work. India’s Smart Cities Mission says: ‘There is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It means different things to different people’. This is not entirely incorrect, but neither is it helpful.

This article will give you a definition which can be used universally and it will not only help you visualise smart cities better but also help you plan for one in a structured way.

Smart city is the solution

Contrary to the hype a smart city is not a different genre of cities! It is only a notion, a concept. It came into being as a result of the need to urgently adapt our existing cities to meet the fast emerging needs of exploding urban population and fighting climate change. The notion of smart cities represents nothing but urban renewal, on steroids though. It can also be applied to new greenfield cities.

The idea of existing cities becoming smart is seen as the best way to resolve the problem. But what is a smart city?

Simply put, when you leverage technology in the governance of a city to achieve a set of pre-determined goals (purpose) you get a smart city.

So what does that really mean?

Essentially, there are three components in a smart city:

1. Technology,

2. Governance, and

3. Purpose.

Let us discuss all three. The Purpose first.


The cities today are in the danger of failing under the pressure of exploding urban population. Main roads are bursting at their seams due to heavy traffic and all infrastructures is overloaded. Shortage of power and water plagues the city. Sewers overflow. Waste disposal is inadequate. Housing is scarce. Slums are mushrooming. And crime is on the rise. All this contributes to the deterioration of the social and ecological environment. The threat of climate change makes the situation further challenging.

While this seems like a common description of most cities, the intensity of challenges varies from city to city. Congestion of traffic might be a big challenge in Bangalore, Beijing might have air quality as the biggest challenge and Delhi might want to have water supply secured as one of the high priority challenges. Every city would have a different set of goals with some that seem like being pursued universally such as become resilient to climate change, become energy efficient and improve quality of life for residents.


We often think of the internet as the technology but it is the oil and the gel at the same time which brings all the elements of technology together and runs them smoothly. The technology consists of two other things:

1. Hardware includes appliances, sensors, and other physical tools and machinery

2. Software runs the hardware, creates interface between people and machines such as apps, internet tools

We are witnessing an explosive growth of new technologies— from GIS, communication, IoT, Big-data, LIDAR, mobile applications to exploration of earth from space. These technologies are not only unlocking massive streams of data but also have massive potential for use in all walks of life, including in the design and building of cities-with or without planners’ involvement.

It is essential to develop and utilise emerging technologies so that this significant change will be made in a sustainable way not doing so is an opportunity wasted and ignoring the answers to all the questions that we haven’t yet asked.


We need our cities to be resilient and environmentally sustainable and offer wellness and quality of life along with other objectives that might be specific to different cities. But every city government/administration has the mandate to pursue those goals. What sets a ‘smart city’ apart from a business-as-usual (BAU) city is how it is governed. In other words—how decisions are made in a smart city. These decisions range from how it should be designed, to how and what policies should be made, and how it should be run on a day to day basis. And this is where the most visible aspect of smart cities comes in—the technology.

On the face of it may seem like the technology is making things happen which it is. IoT devices embedded in street light poles sense the flow of traffic along a set of roads and let the traffic light at their junction know when to turn green or red. Another set of devices secured to trash bins across the city lets the cleaning team know when the bins are full and need emptying. In addition to performing these functions, they are also performing a more important task which is often not conspicuous to most city dwellers. And that task is collecting and generating data. And lots of it.

Google is world’s most valuable company not because of what it does but because the data it possesses. Facebook is rich because of the data it has. Walmart, world’s largest retailer not only sells all sorts of stuff to people but also collects data about them: who buys what, when, how often, who spends how much etc. Companies and organisations that collect and use data to govern their strategies and actions not only create unprecedented efficiencies in operations because of swift and relatively less error prone decision making but also new streams of revenue earnings.

Time has come when cities need to do the same. Only those that are doing this are ‘smart’. Indeed data is at the core of smart cities. The data comes from measuring as many aspects of an urban ecosystem as possible; it generates a huge volume of data from a plethora of sources as a result. Data, on how people move throughout the city, how and where they consume resources, what facilities they are converging on etc.

By measuring these factors, the city’s infrastructure can address issues with minimum human interaction with least amount of time lag. If sensor read high level of pollution level next to a location with traffic congestion drivers could be automatically diverted to an alternate route.


So the notion of smart cities is really a management + policy response to the inadequacy of current cities to accommodate the exploding urban population, with the strategic intent to take advantage of technology that is available to us.

When technology and governance combine to achieve certain goals for a city’s future the quality of ‘smartness’ emerges in the city. A city cannot be perfectly smart or not be at all smart as we don’t know the limits of ‘smartness’, it is an emergent characteristic.

While technology is the most ubiquitous means to achieve the desired goals, governance is the operative component of a smart city, with data collection and its judicious use in decision making is key to smart governance.

Source: LinkedIN

7 Senior Nutrition Facts

Eat your vegetables. Drink plenty of water. Grains are great. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. And whatever you do, eat a balanced diet that takes a little from each of the five food groups.

These are just a few of the rules about eating that many people learn as children. And for the most part, they work pretty well — for kids.

But as people age, their nutritional needs change. Older adults need more of some things, like calcium, and less of others, like overall calorie intake. While each person’s specific dietary needs depend largely on personal tastes and overall health, there are some Golden Rules of senior nutrition that people in their Golden Years should try to follow:

Eat two to three servings of fruit each day
Eat two to three cups of antioxidant-rich leafy greens every day
Consume at least 1,200 mg of calcium daily
Choose whole grains over processed white flour.
Eat about a gram of protein per pound of body weight each day.

If older adults follow these general rules of senior nutrition, they’ll likely be eating a healthy, balanced diet that should help them live longer and stronger, have more mental acuity and feel better. Unfortunately, not everyone follows these guidelines. Too often people find themselves falling prey to some common senior nutrition myths, which are as untrue as they are unhealthy. Here’s a look at seven common myths about senior nutrition and the facts that dispel them:

Myth #1: You need fewer nutrients once you reach your 60s
Fact: It is true that older adults typically need fewer calories than young adults. However, older adults actually need more of certain nutrients, including vitamin D and B12. This is because the body’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight decreases significantly over time. In addition, the body’s ability to absorb B12 also declines. So while seniors may need fewer calories and less of certain nutrients, they also need more vitamin D and B12.

Myth #2: Excess weight isn’t a problem for older adults
Fact: Excess weight and obesity is a serious health concern for all Americans — including older folks. Being overweight not only makes you less likely to enjoy an active and energetic quality of life, it also raises your likelihood of developing a range of chronic illnesses including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Myth #3: It’s OK to skip meals
Fact: Even though many senior citizens experience a loss of appetite, it’s not a good idea to skip meals. Skipping meals comes with its own set of problems, including causing blood sugar levels to fall too low due to a lack of nutrients or shoot to dangerously high levels when you finally do eat.

Forgoing meals can also paradoxically cause your lack of appetite to increase. So the best thing to do is to eat something nutritious — even just a little something — at every meal.

Myth #4: You only need to drink water when you’re thirsty
Fact: People need to drink water before they feel thirsty to avoid dehydration, which can be extremely dangerous for seniors. Dehydration can be caused by medications, a lack of thirst (which is common in older adults) and decreased kidney function. If it happens to you, you could suffer from confusion, difficulty walking, a rapid heart rate, low blood pressure and other health problems.

Myth #5: Seniors don’t need to worry about nutrition
Fact: It’s never too late for anyone to start eating healthier. No matter your age, you can reap the benefits of eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, the right amount of protein and lots of water. Just as for younger adults, the better you eat, the better you’re likely to feel.

Even if you have already developed nutrition-related health issues such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, you can still improve your quality of life and reduce the symptoms by eating right.

Myth #6: Supplements are sufficient
Fact: People should not live off of vitamins and supplements alone. And even if you could, what kind of life would it be? People who rely entirely on supplements often experience side effects including constipation, diarrhea and even malnutrition.

Plus, relying too heavily on supplements for your nutrition means you’ll be more likely to miss out on one of life’s greatest pleasures: dining with friends and family.

Myth #7: Eating alone is fine
Fact: Many older adults who eat alone every day experience increased instances of loneliness, stress and anxiety. Older adults who eat alone are also less likely to eat healthy, balanced meals, a UK study found.

Older adults who eat alone miss out on all of the camaraderie and conversation that takes place around the table when people are sharing a meal with friends, family and other loved ones.

Article published by: Huffington Post

New Era of Food Production in NYC

food production

New Yorkers are trying to have legislation passed that would help bring in a start to urban farming to New York City. Local Brooklyn resident Adam talks about the importance of food production change and how vertical farming would help the community as well as expand healthy food availability to the crowded city. Below is an excerpt on why New York needs this change and how it can benefit communities across the United States.

If a tree grows in Brooklyn, so too can a cherry or a cucumber. Now imagine a crop large enough to feed our entire city.

When New Yorkers go to their local grocer or supermarket, we often see produce imported from other states or countries. There is no reason why the majority of our natural food products cannot be grown and sold right here in the Big Apple. For an urban center as large as New York City, we must be prepared for the challenges of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, a changing ecological system, and the need to supply healthy food to an ever-growing population.

At the same time, we face a crisis of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity of epidemic proportions. The growing urban agriculture movement around the world, estimated at between 15% and 20% of global agricultural output, has the substantial potential to revolutionize our city’s food system and turn a page on protecting our health and environment while bolstering the economy.

We have the ingenuity at hand to take advantage of the plentiful space in the five boroughs, to make this 21st century dream a reality. New York City has rehabilitated unused space before, most famously with the High Line. Our city has 14,000 acres of unused rooftop space, and there are more than 45,000 square feet of publicly owned land in East New York alone. With the use of smart, cutting-edge technology, we would be able to grow enough to feed as many as 20 million people in the metropolitan area.

As New Yorkers, we need to think boldly about the many benefits of expanding urban agriculture. Cities contribute to 70% of the world’s global greenhouse gases, and a City Hall analysis from last year found transportation accounts for nearly 30% of our own output.

Local food production means less trucking required to go in and out of our neighborhoods, reducing the amount of carbon emissions pumped into our city as well as relieving stress on our highways. Green roofs and gardens used to grow produce pump oxygen into the air and cool down our environment, while playing a major role in reducing the runoff and flooding that heavy downpours create. Our environmental future is at stake, and urban farming helps us grow a more sustainable and resilient city.

In Brooklyn, food insecurity and poverty are compounded to create an economic and health crisis. A 2016 report by FoodBankNYC showed Kings County has a food insecurity rate of 20 percent, the only borough with a rising trend since 2009. Lacking basic healthy food access contributes to high levels of preventable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. African-American and Latino communities across central and eastern Brooklyn are twice as likely to suffer from these debilitating and deadly diseases.

There’s even a condition known as Flatbush diabetes; that says it all.

Urban farming is the key to solving this problem, creating mixed-use neighborhoods where this kind of horticultural industry could thrive. The aquaponics market alone is expected to expand over the next five years at an annual rate of 14.3%, generating a value of more than $900 million by 2021. Thinking beyond the traditional expansive farms of America’s heartland, the technology exists to grow crops and careers on unused spaces in the heart of New York City.

Think of the broad potential. We can even establish high-yield farms on our many public housing developments, creating jobs in communities plagued with chronic unemployment, educating a new generation in healthy living, and providing access to fresh foods right at residents’ doorsteps.

The buds of this revolution are growing, but commercial and industrial scale urban farming is tangled in the weeds of bureaucratic uncertainty, making implementation that much more difficult. While scientists and agro-experts have done their jobs of innovating, government has not caught up.

Sophisticated vertical farming operations can be more efficient and profitable, but our zoning laws leave open many questions as to where these businesses can operate. For example, current regulations prohibit growing and selling produce on the same lot regardless of what the lot is zoned. In fact, the zoning text only mentions the word “agriculture” on a handful of its nearly 4,000 pages, thereby making this practice permissive but vague at best. This uncertainty stifles growth.

That is why we are proud to introduce City Council legislation that would rationalize this industry through the creation of a comprehensive urban agriculture plan in New York City. Our legislation would catalogue existing and potential growing spaces, classify and prioritize uses, identify potential land use policies that would favor expanding agricultural uses, as well as expand the availability of healthy food in low-income neighborhoods by integrating this practice across the city’s conservation and resiliency plans.

This plan is the seed to robust growth. Let’s cultivate a multi-million dollar industry here in New York City with a harvest of economic, environmental, and health benefits that we can all share.

Source: NY Daily News