Posts tagged with "food desert":

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Is Brooklyn Becoming Farm Country?

A massive new urban farming project in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was announced last week by New York City-based Bright Farms, a company dedicated to building hydroponic farms close to supermarkets. The Sunset Park project will be the largest rooftop farm in the city, and possibly the world. At 100,000 square feet, it could potentially yield 1 million pounds of produce a year and joins several other agricultural projects in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Grange, another rooftop farming operation located in Queens, is planning to open a 45,000 square foot urban farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and farm-developers Gotham Greens will be opening a new location in the borough as well. The three new Brooklyn farms join a host of existing and planned farms around the area. The farms in operation now are Brooklyn Grange's facility in Long Island City, Gotham Greens' existing Greenpoint location, and  Brightfarms' Long Island location in Huntington. Several other projects by these same three developers are in the works across Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Bright Farms' Sunset Park hydroponic project will use no dirt. This has advantages over traditional soil-based farming, as it prevents extra strain on the sewer system by harvesting rainwater, and also allows light weight rooftop greenhouses to be built without large-scale structural additions to buildings below. Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz is excited about the project, and is even supporting changes in zoning laws to promote this type of urban rooftop farming.  To make commercial ventures like these easier to develop, height and floor-area restrictions would exclude rooftop greenhouses.  Often, tailoring regulation is the best way to change the ways in which we live, and in this case, simply changing zoning law could provide a wave of fresh fruits and vegetables produced blocks from the grocery stores in which it will be sold. Brooklyn doesn't have much open space, but it does have plenty of flat rooftops. While some cities seeks to utilized vacant lots, New York is in a great position. Unlike vacant lots, rooftops could mean extra, 'bonus' production, since the roofs are already serving a purpose: shelter. The new legislation would essentially increase the usable "density" of the city through the increased economic performance of these buildings without altering existing structures, only adding to them.  This collapse of the rural and urban is exciting for a number of reasons.  Localized food delivery systems could eliminate "food deserts," neighborhoods where fresh food is unavailable. Salmar Properties, who purchased the building from the NYC Economic Development Corporation in May 2011 for $10 million, will be required to use the building for industrial purposes for 30 years.  Read more about the Sunset Park urban farm at The New York Times.
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On View> Moveable Feast at MCNY

Ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables is seen as a key factor in improving public health. In many low income communities grocery stores are scarce. The Bloomberg administration is addressing these "food deserts" with an innovative, small scale program called NYC Green Carts, issuing extra permits to fruit and vegetable vendors in targeted neighborhoods throughout the city. The program is the subject of a photography exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, organized with the Aperture Foundation. In Moveable Feast, photographers LaToya Ruby Frazier, Thomas Holton, Gabriele Stabile, Will Steacy, and Shen Wei document and interpret the program, using techniques ranging from still life to ethnography. The result more impressionistic than comprehensive, and viewers will need to read the wall texts in order to grasp the social impacts of the NYC Green Carts. Still, the exhibition brings attention to a laudable program, highlighting an instance when the Bloomberg administration is tackling a large scale problem in a humane, block by block way. The exhibition also includes historic images of street vendors taken from the Museum of the City of New York's collection.Moveable Feast is on view through August 22.
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QUICK CLICKS> Model Cities, Food Deserts, McMansion Decline, Green Infill

  Toy Cities. Our friends at Planetizen tell us that Avondale, AZ had urban planner James Rojas over for a playdate of sorts. Citizens who took part in this re-visioning session got to use pipecleaners, Legos, blocks, and other assorted toys to build their ideal version of the city. According to Rojas, this bottom-up community planning method breaks down barriers and allows people to exercise a degree of creativity not often found at the typical charrette. Food Oases. Streetsblog questions the much hyped notion of the "food desert":  is it media myth or reality?  It seems that urban areas aren't always as lacking in food stores as they seem, at least depending on your definition of supermarket. Even the USDA, who recently debuted their new food desert locator, might be a bit confused about what constitutes a food desert. (In fact, the web application says that a part of Dedham, MA is a food desert. Maybe they don't count the Star Market that's right near that Census tract...) Suburban Swan Song. Slate's architecture columnist Witold Rybczynski has penned an obit of sorts to that symbol of suburban sprawl, the McMansion. He posits that when the recession is over people will be in the mood to buy homes again, but that they may be hesitant to purchase a behemoth of a building that costs a lot to heat and cool. Green Alert. Inhabitat takes a look at the latest in the green roof trend in the form of sloping roofs on townhomes in the City of Brotherly Love. It seems that the historic Center City has a new (and almost LEED certified) infill development called Bancroft Green. The high-end homes here sport some nifty plant covered roofs as well as geothermal heating and herb gardens that capture storm runoff and spaces designed specifically for bicycle storage.