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The Impact of Urban Farming in New York City


Imagine a rooftop garden lush with salad greens and fresh vegetables. Picture a quaint patio garden growing bay-leaf, lemon-verbena and lime-basil herbs. Urban farming is a sustainability movement that is giving new purpose to rooftops, patios and unused space. The beauty of urban farming is that it not only produces an abundance of organic, locally grown food, but also has a social, economic and communal impact.

Urban farming has the potential to become a global green evolution, improving the economy, sustainability and health of our urban communities. From North Minneapolis and Milwaukee to Cairo and Montreal, urban farms and gardens are sprouting up as a solution to maximize the use of natural resources such as solar energy, advocating healthy lifestyles and even teaching job skills.

It doesn't matter how large or small your rooftop farm or patio garden is, urbanized agriculture positively affects metropolitan areas with stimulated economic growth and better food quality. Urban farming can reduce food-related carbon emissions, including transportation (low food mileage) and production costs (packaging and storage). It can bolster economic growth by keeping the exchange of food localized and gentrifying depressed urban areas, and improve green and energy-efficient initiatives by "reducing harmful runoff, increasing shading and countering the unpleasant heat-island effect," according to National Geographic.

In New York City, urban farming is changing the way communities approach food production, sustainability and socialization:

The Brooklyn Grange Apiary

Farming in a concrete jungle is a seemingly abstract idea, yet transforming one of the world's largest cities into a sustainable metropolis is exactly what urbanites are aiming for one garden at a time. Urban farming is an agricultural revolution aiding the change of global urban landscapes, even in Brooklyn. From rooftop-grown organic herbs to brownstone backyard tomato plants, urban farming is creating green utopias in otherwise unused or abandoned metropolitan spaces.

With urban farming comes urban honey, and that's exactly what the Brooklyn Grange Apiary Project specializes in. The apiary, which is an extension of its flagship farm in Long Island City, will provide natural, distinctly flavored honey that will meet the city's local demand. To produce the honey, the apiary will open 30 beehives in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Hives will be installed to help pollinate crops and increase the productivity.

Riverpark Farm in Manhattan

Nestled in the Alexandria Center for Life Science in Manhattan, Riverpark Farm is a fresh-produce haven that grows every type of crop imaginable. The 15,000-square-foot farm features fresh Atomic red carrots, Shunkyo radishes, Red Russian Kale, New Orchid watermelons and more. Riverpark maximizes the farm space with "intercropping" and "advanced seeding," according to The sustainable and flexible space is specially designed for aeration, drainage, efficient soil replacement and easy plant mobility. Materials for the farm are brought in locally from growers and manufacturers.

The Riverpark farming urbanites harvest and grow crops in its unconventional space using ORE Design and Technology. ready-made, cubic-foot milk crates are double-stacked and serve as individual planters. Within the urban environment, produce is planted, harvested, picked and delivered right to the tables of the farm's special dining area as well as the Riverpark Restaurant. The restaurant's superior chef, Sisha Ortúzar, features American cuisine masterpieces inspired by the farm's seasonal ingredients, such as grilled chicken, farm lettuces and greens, and a summer-squash frittata. The farm's cornucopia of vegetables and greens are the heart of the restaurant's dynamic menu and make for culinary excellence.

Danielle Smile is a contributing journalist to Home and Community blogs, covering topics from design and environmental awareness to education, health, fitness and food. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter

Images via Alex Brown and spit, chat, chow