Advocate for an Urban Agriculture Plan to Grow More Food and Jobs in NYC

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We need an urban agriculture plan, not a website, to grow more food and jobs in NYC. #UrbanAgPlan

A comprehensive urban agriculture plan is necessary for establishing an efficient citywide land use scheme for growing food. We need streamlined and effective regulation to expand and strengthen the City’s 900+ farms and gardens – the largest number of any U.S. city - but also better coordination integrating urban agriculture into existing plans, programs, and policy-making processes in city government, and for creating more transparent and participatory processes to enable gardeners and farmers to influence decision-making on urban agriculture. Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and Denver have plans that have encouraged innovative land and space use, spurred job creation, refined food policy, and supported mission-based gardeners to expand their efforts – why not New York?

We supported the original legislation, Intro #1661, proposed by the Brooklyn Borough President Adams and sponsored by Council Member Espinal on July 20, 2017, to expand and strengthen urban agriculture citywide with a comprehensive plan, ensuring access to fresh and local food for all New Yorkers, job creation, and environmental and social resiliency. On October 26, forty-six urban agriculture advocates, including the Design Trust for Public Space, testified in the Committee on Land Use to inform the legislation and, ultimately, the Plan. The revised Intro #1661-A is a completely different bill that we cannot support.

Now the New York City Council proposes to scrap the comprehensive urban agriculture plan in favor of websites to share information. Creating websites does not require legislation, and much of the data proposed to be included in the websites can already be found on existing platforms, such as NYC Park’s GreenThumb. Furthermore, websites will not address the more fundamental issues of resource gaps within urban agriculture or of the lack of coordination, integration, transparency, and equity in decision-making processes related to urban agriculture.

We urge City Council Members and the Mayor’s Office to reconsider and return to the goal of developing a comprehensive urban agriculture plan that will maximize the health, social, economic, and environmental benefits of farming and gardening for all New Yorkers. We only get one chance to do urban agriculture legislation right.

Join us to deliver this message to the Mayor’s Office and City Council Members before they vote on Monday, December 11, at 1:30 pm, by signing this petition. We also encourage you to talk to your Council Member in advance and attend the public session on December 11.

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The Design Trust for Public Space project on urban agriculture, Five Borough Farm, was a multi-phased project conducted in partnership with Added Value, NYC Parks, and Farming Concrete. Five Borough Farm offered a roadmap to farmers and gardeners, City officials, and stakeholders to understand and weigh the benefits of urban agriculture, and made a compelling case for closing resource gaps to grow urban agriculture throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

The first phase of the Five Borough Farm project resulted in policy recommendations, including for the creation of an urban agriculture plan, that would:

  • establish goals, objectives, and a citywide land use scheme for garden and farm development
  • integrate urban agriculture into existing plans, programs, and policy-making processes in city government
  • address disparities in access to funding, information, and other resources by creating more transparent and participatory processes to enable gardeners and farmers to influence policy and decision-making.

Our recommendations, released in 2012, align with the original legislation proposal Intro #1661 that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Rafael Espinal have introduced for developing an urban agriculture plan. However, systems of accountability are essential to maximizing the benefits of the Plan for all New Yorkers.

The Plan must apply not only to commercial urban agriculture, but also to community gardens, school gardens, permaculture gardens, vertical farms, and all other forms of gardening and farming practice.

We urge the New York City Council to incorporate the following three means to ensure accountability in the generation and execution of the Plan:

  1. a citywide task force—composed of City agencies, support organizations, and gardeners and farmers representing a variety of types—for reviewing the development and implementation of the Plan. This task force would build off of the Urban Agriculture Task Force with NYC Parks established through Five Borough Farm, and the roundtable convened by Brooklyn Borough President Adams in Spring 2016.
  2. open forums at many points in the Plan’s development process, including input-gathering in each borough at spring gardening and farming events, such as GrowTogether and Making Brooklyn Bloom.
  3. communication within the City and with gardening and farming support organization and advocate networks, including GreenThumb, NYCHA’s Garden and Greening Program, 596 Acres, and the New York City Community Garden Coalition.


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