The NYCHA Red Hook West Urban Farm 6 Wolcott Street, Brooklyn thread collective A gaggle of green-thumbed Archtober enthusiasts joined thread collective’s Elliott Maltby and Gita Nandan to learn about the NYCHA Red Hook West Urban Farm. Situated in Brooklyn, the one acre plot has served as a model for other farms being developed on New York Housing Authority properties, including at Howard Houses in Brownsville and in Coney Island. While the lessons learned in the past three years have eased the way for these projects, each community has its own set of needs and will come up with unique solutions. In its pre-farm days, the site served as an open space that was largely unkempt, although a “tree zoo”—a small gated area with trees—had been put in place to make the lot more welcoming. While no planned walkways crossed the field, desire lines, eroded paths created by people moving along their daily lives, helped guide the design. Rather than planting rectangular beds parallel to the street, thread collective worked on a diagonal to recreate the paths that had developed naturally over time. Americorps team members, all of whom come from the community, talk with residents regularly—people are still learning about the farm every day. Green City Force and thread collective worked to keep the space accessible to all to encourage community ownership and involvement. When asked if they have ever had a problem with people coming in and picking vegetables for their own use, John Cannizzo of Green City Force explained that while he doesn’t count every tomato, the nobody takes advantage. And if someone really can’t put food on the table, he hopes that they will come and take what they need. None of the produce is sold. Instead, the weekly farmers market is run as an exchange program in which residents volunteer their time or trade compost for freshly-picked vegetables at a pound-for-pound rate. Cooking demonstrations inspire experimentation in the kitchen, and Americorps team members check in with residents to ensure that they are growing the produce that the community wants. We turned the tour into a double feature, heading next to the nearby Red Hook Community Farm. This three acre plot, which is run by Added Value with the support of Green City Force and a coterie of interns and volunteers, processes compost and runs a CSA and farmers’ market. Nefratia Coleman, a CSA intern whose interest in food began at the NYCHA Red Hook West Farm, took us through the process of composting. Neatly arranged piles maximize airflow and capture heat to decompose the product without attracting vermin or smelling up the farm, which is teeming with interns and volunteers throughout the year. The farm and CSA program took a huge hit in 2012 when Sandy ravaged the land; water from both the East River and the Gowanus Canal rendered that year’s crop unusable. The sanitation department cleaned it up, and the farm was replanted, this time a few feet above its original level. Corey, a staff member of Green City Force explained that the farm serves as a “vehicle to educate, empower, and train young people.” While the interns won’t necessary use their composting skills in future jobs, the leadership abilities they cultivate here will carry them forward in the future. Julia Cohen is the Archtober Coordinator at the Center for Architecture.
Posts tagged with "Urban Farming":
“Detroit is not having a renaissance,” philanthropist Gary Wasserman proclaimed in the Bushwick, Brooklyn studio space of painter Markus Linnenbruck, “It is an entirely new expression of urbanism.” With the sun pouring in through large, iron-frame windows, he introduced the concept for his new Detroit arts venue. Cities, he says, are “the 21st century frontier,” not the West or Space. “Detroit is not the only city to fail, but it is the biggest,” he said, noting that the city was once over 2 million people, but is now down to 600,000 or so. This has left massive amounts of transportation infrastructure, cultural infrastructure, and housing redundant and abandoned. In this landscape, the city needs more places to sustain urban activity. Wasserman wants to create “a destination providing something of interest that becomes another thread in the urban fabric,” he explained. Wasserman Projects will be located in an old 5,000 square-foot fire station in Detroit’s Eastern Market district and will open on September 25th during the Detroit Design Festival. The new arts hub is expected to spur artistic interaction and development. The space will grow to 9,000 square-feet in the coming months, and will eventually include a kunsthalle, chamber concert hall, a gallery, an artist’s residency, a studio space, and a permanent installation of The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, which is the work of Belgian artist Koen Vanmechlen. He breeds national symbolic chickens as a metaphor for human diversity. The opening exhibition will be a collection of paintings by Linnenbruck, shown in a pavilion designed by Miami architect Nick Gelpi. The pavilion is a large wooden structure that splits open to reveal a glossy, colorful interior painted by Linnenbruck. The two halves become an acoustic space for performance.
Atlanta has staked a commitment on urban agriculture. The city is poised to hire its first Urban Agriculture Director this fall. Conceived by the office of Mayor Kasim Reed, the position is part of a strategy to eliminate food deserts in south and west Atlanta by promoting agriculture within the city limits. Urban food deserts are determined by a neighborhood's poverty rate, median income, and distance to groceries selling fresh produce. The USDA maintains an interactive map of food deserts, including those in Atlanta, here. Atlanta's Agriculture Director will be an advocate, consultant, policy analyst, and community liaison between gardeners and farmers and the resources they need to establish viable plots. The director will also consult on brownfield remediation, zoning and code inquiries, and any other issues surrounding access to, and use of, land. Interested candidates have until September 15th to apply for the position.
Kris Steele’s “Edible Walkway” proposal to bring an urban orchard to Charlotte, NC was one of two recipients of the Keep Charlotte Beautiful (KCB) neighborhood beautification grants announced in May. Steele’s proposal was approved over 34 other proposals by KCB and received an endowment of $2,500 to get the plan moving. Steele’s project will tear down an old, rusty fence at Kingston Avenue and South Mint Street and replace it with a new fence and a variety of fruit-bearing trees and bushes. The project will be overseen by the Wilmore Neighborhood Association, the Calvary United Methodist Church, and Casteen Lawn and Tree. It has not yet been decided what types of trees and shrubberies will be planted along the walkway but there have been mentions of pear trees, apple trees, and peach trees among others. Planting is scheduled to begin sometime this upcoming autumn, with some trees possibly bearing fruit as soon as next spring. The urban orchard project is part of a growing trend in cities across North America to bring productive agriculture to sites in urban areas. Chicago, Edmonton, and Boston have recently begun projects of their own.
From junk metal and rubble to tomatoes and kale. That’s the plan for a vacant lot in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C. located just under six miles from the United States Capitol building. Over the next few months, the 2.3-acre site, which has been covered in trash for years, will be transformed into the world’s largest urban greenhouse. The National Journal reported that the project is getting some help from BrightFarms, a company that supports urban agriculture projects around the country. This latest project in D.C., though, will be much bigger than anything they've created before. When complete, the 100,000-square-foot greenhouse will produce one million pounds of produce a year. That major haul will be sold at 30 local grocery stores, which will boost fresh food options and cut down on the stores' carbon footprints. The space will also host educational programs to teach kids about urban farming, and is expected to create 20 to 25 permanent jobs. The project was first announced a year ago, but got a boost earlier this year when grocery store chain, Giant, signed on for the project. According to a press release, the greenhouse is being built "in partnership with the City’s Department of General Services and the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation in support of the Mayor’s Sustainable D.C. Plan, which aims to make DC the greenest, healthiest and most livable city in the nation." It's expected to take four to five months to build.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The United States will celebrate one of its most prized national treasures at the next World’s Fair: the food truck. In honor of the theme of the 2015 Milano Expo—“Feed the Planet, Energy for Life"—the American Pavilion, called American Food 2.0, includes street-level food trucks that will serve up some favorite American dishes. James Biber, the New York City–based architect of the pavilion, told Business Insider, it's not been decided which food trucks will be included at the site, but that there will be lobster rolls "for sure." But the pavilion design doesn't end with food trucks. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The pavilion’s most visually distinctive feature, is its hydroponic facade—or, a football-field-length,vertical farm that is planted with harvestable crops. "It is as though a typical horizontal field was rotated (think Inception with a farm field standing in for Paris) to become the side of a building," said Biber Architects in a statement. "It's not our proposal for serious urban or vertical farming, which is usually indoors, but a didactic display talking about the past, present, and future of the American farm, and the American diet." Behind the vertical farm is an airplane hangar-sized door, which opens the structure to the public. A "boardwalk" made of recycled lumber from American boardwalks takes viewers from the first floor to the second. Above that is a roof-top terrace, which is partially covered in a glass shade and photovoltaic panels. Biber told Architectural Record that the masterplan for the Expo, which was partially designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is "the most urban" he's ever seen. Lots at the site are only 20-feet-wide to create a more dense fabric. The Expo opens its doors to the public on May 1, 2015. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter]
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is pushing a plan to turn parcels of city-owned vacant land into urban farms and orchards. The HOME GR/OWN program has long been stalled, but received a boost from the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge. Many of the properties are in the city's troubled Lindsay Heights neighborhood, where a network of nonprofits already works to alleviate the effects of Milwaukee’s disinvestment and foreclosure crises. HOME GR/OWN will work in concert with Barrett’s Strong Neighborhoods Investment Plan, an $11.8 million program to perform a kind of triage on ailing housing stock. The city-funded initiative promotes marketing of salvageable homes and vacant lots, but it also bankrolls the destruction of 300 structures deemed beyond repair. The initiative follows similar programs across the country, including in Chicago, where the Green Healthy Neighborhoods plan captured imaginations in 2011 but has since failed to secure funding. Still, the program’s promise is welcome in a city with as many as 18,000 vacant properties. Its proponents say it may be a cost-effective way to address many intertwined problems at once—many have seized on urban agriculture's potential to create jobs in communities struggling with violence.
Chicago’s plan to revitalize troubled South Side neighborhoods with green infrastructure, urban farming and transit-friendly development is moving ahead. The city’s Plan Commission heard a presentation last week on the Green Healthy Neighborhoods program, which in 2011 announced its attention to lure investment to the Englewood, Woodlawn and Washington Park neighborhoods (read AN’s coverage here). While the urban agriculture component initially grabbed headlines—renderings show an old rail line repurposed as the “New Era Trail,” which would link urban farms and community gardens with a park-like promenade—the wide-ranging proposals also include developing retail clusters around transit nodes and street improvements for bikers and pedestrians. Funding is still up in the air, but the project will seek financing through the department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Initiative. You can see the full plan here.
With Detroit bankrupt and under the authority of a state-appointed emergency manager, all options for the city's future are on the table. But not all news out of the infamously depopulated city is about cutting back. A new park downtown broke ground this week, and plans surfaced for a massive urban forest on Detroit’s southeast side. Construction began this week on a downtown park, the future site of Mini Campus Martius. DTE Energy has cleared a parking lot and two small buildings on a roughly triangular patch of land near its “West Downtown” headquarters. Meanwhile, after five years of preparation, a plan to transform 140 acres of vacant land on the city’s southeast side into an urban forest got approval from the state and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. Hantz Farms, a venture of financier John Hantz, will buy the land for more than $500,000, clear 50 abandoned structures, maintain the property and plant 15,000 trees in the coming years. Clearing the land could cost another $600,000. That’s money the people behind Hantz Woodlands hope to recover in time. “This is designed to be a for-profit enterprise,” Hantz Farms’ President Mike Score told The Atlantic Cities. “I can assure you we have a business plan and we don’t have any anxiety about achieving our goals.” That plan begins with building trust among community members, before Hantz gets to planting apple orchards and shrubbery. Score said the transition from blight to burgeoning urban forest should take four years.
The city of Boston is laying the ground work to grow and simplify the process for urban farming throughout the city. Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) are introducing an amendment, Article 89, to the current zoning that would create opportunity for expanded urban agriculture activities such as rooftop farming and opening farm stands and markets. Beginning in May, the Mayor's office along with BRA launched a series of 11 neighborhood meetings to discuss Draft Article 89 with the public. This amendment change is part of the city's larger Pilot Urban Agriculture Rezoning Project that was initially started in 2010: A group of farming experts and advocates were selected to participate in the Mayor's Urban Agriculture Working Group to provide insight that helped inform a number of the recommendations included in Draft Article 89. This amendment tackles a range of urban agriculture issues from soil safety and rooftop and vertical agriculture to hydroponics and the care of animals and bees. Boston.com reported that the new zoning would allow for 1-acre ground-level farms in any neighborhood throughout the city, and then permit farms larger than one-acre in areas specifically zoned for industrial use. The amendment would also make it significantly easier for Bostonians to start a ground-level farm by requiring a special permit instead of mandating a public review process. According to the BRA's website, the Mayor's Office and collaborating partners are hoping that this ambitious initiative will "increase access to affordable and healthy food, particularly for underserved communities" and "promote economic opportunity and greater self-sufficiency for people in need, including increasing the capacity of Boston residents and business and grow and distribute local and healthy food."
The Bjarke Ingels Group, along with Tess, Transsolar, Base, Transitec, and Michel Forgue, have revealed their winning design for EuropaCity, a 200-acre urban cultural and commercial destination located between Paris and Roissy. Combining the forms of a dense European city with an open landscape, EuropaCity is set to be a retail, cultural, and leisure city of unprecedented scale. Modeled on the European urban experience and equipped with cutting edge green technologies, the development will serve as a retail and cultural hub for the region as well as a laboratory and showcase for sustainable design. The project will contain concert halls, spas, and retail oriented around an internal avenue and based on traditional European urban models, with integrated infrastructures for bicycles and electric-powered public transit. The entire project will be caped in a massive landscaped green roof, containing, of course, ski slopes, hiking trails, urban farming, rolling hills, sloping valleys, and unmatched views of the Paris skyline. The mega-development will be linked directly to the Paris Metro and the Charles de Gaul Airport. “EuropaCity will be an experimental hybrid between urbanism and landscape design,” said Bjark Ingels in a statement. “Center and periphery overlapped in simultaneous coexistence of a recreational open landscape of rolling hills superimposed on an urban neighborhood of walkable streets, plazas, and parks.” While EuropaCity will be fully powered through solar, biofuels, and geothermal, BIG hopes to reach for another level of sustainability with the project by crafting a high quality of public life within the area and providing solutions by which we can improve the quality of the urban environment.
Gotham Greens, the company that currently operates a 15,000-square-foot greenhouse on top of the Greenpoint Wood Exchange in Brooklyn—is bringing its green thumb to roofs across New York City with three massive new rooftop farms in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. Soon, the biggest of the three planned farms at 60,000 square feet—among the largest rooftop farms in the country—will be built atop an industrial facility in Jamaica, Queens. The New York Daily News reported that Gotham Greens received a $900,000 grant last year from the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) to cultivate the sprawling new hydroponic farm on a rooftop in Jamaica. The three urban farmers behind the venture anticipate an opening as soon as 2014. The company has several new projects germinating in Brooklyn and the Bronx as well. In Gowanus, Brooklyn, Gotham Greens have been selected to operate a 20,000 square foot greenhouse atop a new Whole Foods grocery store slated to open in the fall. According to Whole Foods, the new facility will be "the nation’s first commercial scale greenhouse farm integrated within a retail grocery space." Gotham Greens will grow produce to be sold in Whole Foods stores across New York City, a move that's expected to reduce emissions from transportation and provide the freshest produce possible. In the Bronx, the company has also set in motion plans to build another rooftop farm on top of the future Oak Point food distribution facility in Hunts Point with $400,000 in funding it received from the REDC initiative. In dense cities where buildings are plentiful and land is scarce, rooftop farming is growing in popularity. Such operations provide a number of community benefits from employment to access to fresh produce. And for landlords, it comes with its perks: it is revenue producing while also reducing a building's energy consumption and rain run off. Across New York City, a number of other independent urban farms have sprung from the roofs of buildings such as Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; the Brooklyn Grange in Long Island City and the Brooklyn Navy Yard (currently the city's largest at 65,000 square feet), and the Sky Vegetables-run farm on top of Arbor House in the South Bronx. According to the Daily News, current rooftop space in Queens could support up to 1,100 acres of rooftop farms, with Brooklyn and Manhattan coming in at 940 acres and 400 acres respectively.