Ah, the holiday season. New York City turns into gear as millions of tourists crowd the streets for one of a kind assembly-line tourism. For some reason, we are all compelled to buy gifts for one another. There’s just nothing worse than receiving a gift from someone you had no intention of giving one to at all. And to not gift after someone’s gifted you? Well congratulations, you’ve just created a real life Seinfeld situation for yourself.

So avoid that, and just give something.

Back to the Roots Aquafarm

Maybe someone’s interested in growing their own food, or building their own aquaponics system at home. This is a perfect way to dip your toes in urban agriculture.

aquaponic system amazonPhoto Credit Amazon

EcoGrower Max

Similar concept, except the options to grow are much larger.  This goes to show you how simple, and how complicated growing our own food can be.

eco grower maxPhoto Credit Amazon

Heifer International

Great non-profit organization. Need to buy a gift for someone that you don’t like? Buy a poor family a flock of chickens, you’ll feel better about spending that money.

mcupload_5201c529ad7fb Photo Cedit Heiffer.org

Hells Kitchen Farm Project

Another really great non-profit. I am an advocate of donating money as a gift during the holiday. It takes a lot of pressure off of each other and sometimes reminds us that some people measure their wealth in goats. This project is similar, but works a little bit closer to home. Let’s work to build a better world.

hells kitchen farm project Photo credit hkfp.org

There are super cool super market ideas that have greenhouses built right on them. This futuristic concept would grow some of the produce sold at the store in an effort to bring local food to consumers. This aims to reduce he carbon footprint of our food, while producing more of it, grows sustainably.

Gotham Greens and Whole Foods have partnered up to build their first location in Brooklyn, NY. They have 20,000 square feet, with solar powers supplementing the electricity used to maintain the greenhouse year-round.

The project shows how produce can be grown with more efficient use of water, and nutrients than typical farming methods. He process looks a little like science fiction, but the future is coming.

If you want to know more about urban agriculture, and want to get your hands dirty check out Farm School NYC. (Just Food)

Want to experience a meal grown right upstairs on the roof of the restaurant? Head to Bell Book & Candle in Manhattan. (Bell Book & Candle)

Do you believe in locally sourced food? Do you live in a tiny NYC apartment with no realistic opportunities to grow your own food or chickens? Buy your produce from a local farmers market. Greenmarket started in 1976, now they operate 54 markets around NYC. (Greenmarket)

Ever been interested in gardening, try volunteering at a local community garden. There are countless little gardens all over the city, you just got to know where to look. Check out my virtual tour here, or you should check out Greenthumb community gardens.

Are you a New York Times subscriber? Are you interested in urban Agriculture? Well get excited because the NYTimes just opened up an Urban Agriculture topic on their website, it’s pretty cool. (NYT)

What started as an organic craze that doubled the price of humanely raised chicken has exploded in recent years as a push for farm-to-table cuisine even in the heart of a major city.  Now, it would seem that the idea of raising chickens in modern day New York City is being promote as idea for food sustainability, environmental benefits, food quality and education. But for some people, what started as a cool idea or a hobby and way to introduce fresh eggs into their diet, turned into a problem that was best dropped off at a nearby animal shelter.

“We had Rhode Island reds that produced an egg a day,” said Sean Foote 23, whose mom started raising chickens on their property outside Manchester, NH, “they were really tasty, we started with a small chicken cage, then finally upgraded to a coop. We had 15 chickens at the most, now we are down to six after dogs, fox, hawk, and fisher cat we suspect got after them. [My mom] has to let the chickens out daily to exercise, and we had to bring a heater in because it gets so cold.”

This doesn’t sound like the kind of effort New Yorkers are used to putting in for their food. It’s obvious why this trend hasn’t caught on big in our city while services like Menupages.com and Seamless have flourished.  I understand why people would want to raise a chicken for the eggs, I admire how people took the challenge doing it in New York City, but I think some things should be left out of amateurs hands.

Baruch’s ECO, Growing Louder

November 10, 2014

Denise lescano

Climate change is a serious concern for a lot of people. Urban agriculture is about growing food but also enforces the importance of green infrastructure in our continuously developing cities. At Baruch College, the Environmental Cooperation Organization agrees with the notion that climate change is a real threat, and they are dedicated to working for a way to get people to work to change. Denise Lescano, President of ECO at Baruch College sat down with me to explain some of what they do.

“We hold events informing students on environmental issues through general meetings, movie screenings, we also do things like volunteer, we’ve done coastal clean ups, we did a community clean up in Corona, Queens where we picked up garbage and planted spring bulbs. We also are planting spring bulbs and cleaning up Washington Square Park.”

She says that a lot of students might be concerned about ecosystems, about climate change, but they don’t necessarily know what they can do. The group’s efforts are focused on group awareness activities, community service and learning activities.

“We are building strong relationships with other clubs, so I feel like that’s a huge achievement, because I feel in the long run we need everyone.”

From the mid 1970’s through the 1990’s New York City’s lower east side became known for it’s small community gardens that could be found in the nooks and crannies of Alphabet City. During some of the bleakest times in the cities history, communities came together and built these gardens in vacant lots that were sometimes used to dump trash of all kind and were havens for drug abusers. I got my inspiration for creating this map from Grace Tankersley’s book, Community Gardens of the East Village: An Oral history & Guide to Community Gardens in New York City’s East Village. Thank you Grace for putting together such a rich history of the community gardens. See here for a map of community gardens in the east village and take a tour.

Farm skyline

Walking passed big warehouses, with double wide streets to accommodate delivery trucks, I was beginning to feel lost, and that Google Maps had failed me.  I was about to give up when I spotted chalkboard sight propping up a door that read something like ‘rooftop farm upstairs.’  I couldn’t have been more excited and I ran up the steps as fast as I could and before I got the chance to catch my breath I was met by Annie, the Eagle Street Farm manager.

The farm is collaboration between Brooklyn-based Broadway Stages, which has a history of reaching out to help the local community and green roofing company Goode Green.  According to a 2012 fact sheet, the roof can hold 1.5 inches of rain stopping storm runoff, and the captured water actually helps cool the building and results in lower cooling costs.

Ms. Novak understands that she is at the forefront of the modern movement with her concept of green roofing. “What’s unique about our space is that it’s a green roof, so it’s structured to have a fully landscaped membrane that is completely covered in soil, it is not a container garden. And the nice thing about that, that in addition to growing produce, which is great, it also captures storm water, which is a really big deal for New York because our population far exceeds our ability to operate our sewage system.”

During the growing season, Eagle St. grows a lot of food; they grow cucumbers, hot peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, spinach, radishes, kale, Swiss chard, carrots, peas, beans, herbs, and flowers, according to their 2012 Fact sheet.  Additionally the farm has also begun harvesting honey. The farm sells their produce from its site based Sunday open market.

Annie wants to use this farm as a model for how others should start thinking, … this idea that can be tied into an ecological solution for cities, and that’s important. That’s something that Portland does well, something Toronto does very well, it’s something Chicago does very well, it’s soething that’s happening in Paris, and happening for a very long time in berlin.  I think we get a lot of attention at this farm, because we have a really kick ass view, and I like to talk about it, other than that we aren’t doing anything super original. In fact, I would rather we were less original, because that would mean that more people were doing go0 d things.”cherry tomatoes

Local volunteers maintain the farm, and there is a weekly farmers market where people can go up and check out the scene.  It’s a large 6000 Square foot plot of farm, with a heart-stopping view of the New York Skyline. Visitors can buy produce such as cherry tomatoes grown right upstairs.

“So where you get this kind of thing, rooftop farming is so revolutionary, people have never actually seen stuff growing before, and to me that’s one of the more deeply horrifying things.” Said Ms. Novak, “Again, education is the key to making smart urban development happen, if you don’t know where a carrot comes from you probably don’t care at all about storm water runoff, you know?”