Community leaders and health-conscious citizens around the country are dreaming up new ways of bringing agriculture into the scope of the city. It’s now possible to not only sell and distribute at the city farmer’s market, but grow fresh food within the confines of an urban environment as well. Here are four U.S. cities with new agricultural developments that challenge us to think about ways urban farming could excel in Central and Upstate New York:
1. Jackson, Wyoming
Vertical Harvest of Jackson Hole is set to be a three-story, 13,500-square-foot hydroponic (doesn’t need soil) greenhouse in a city that is known for its subzero winter temperatures and life lived drastically below sea level. This facility will be able grow as much produce annually as five acres of agricultural land. The produce will be sold locally to grocery stores and restaurants and the operation of the facility will employ people with disabilities, a major sector of the Jackson economy with a low employment rate. Vertical Harvest just broke ground in December and is expected to be completed by 2016.
2. Louisville, Kentucky
The West Louisville Food Port is a 24-acres production and distribution hub for fresh food in the economically challenged West End of Louisville. It’s design includes an urban farm, market and food truck plaza, retail space, classrooms for teaching locals about sustainability and agriculture, a recycling facility and an edible garden. The project is being designed by a group of students at Harvard University and led by a partner at the Rotterdam-based Office of Metropolitan Architecture in New York. The facility is supposed to activate the surrounding neighborhoods and serve as a new model between the consumer and producer.
3. Wheat Ridge, Colorado
This Denver suburb just lifted its ban on small-scale urban agriculture in 2011. Wheat Ridge now allows residents to build and sustain mini-farms and food markets without obtaining a permit. The new zoning codes and city regulations allow the inhabitation of small animals such as bees, goats and chickens. Wheat Ridge has become something of an agricultural mecca as it has sought to return to its historic roots as a farming community.
4. Washington, D.C.
The District’s Mayor Muriel Brown just signed the “Urban Agricultural and Food Security Act of 2014” which promotes urban farming in the city’s underutilized areas. The bill includes the recruitment of urban farmers who will grow on dozens of vacant, city-owned parcels of land. The city will initially identify 25 lots of at least 2,500 square feet. This step signifies the fact that many people in the city are becoming increasingly interested in the progression of the urban farming movement. A new sustainable urban agriculture certificate program at The University of the District of Columbia saw near immediate enrollment when announced last year.
Maybe a cities in New York don’t need something as radical as Vertical Harvest or the Food Port or a new law allowing this kind of urban growth. Urban farming is a unique way to help get rid of food deserts and bring awareness about healthy food and sustainability to a concrete-clad city. So how can we challenge ourselves by incorporating urban agriculture into our specific city limits?
Syracuse’s biggest obstacle is the winter season snow. With this in mind, which of these above ideas might be best for a city like Syracuse?
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To learn more about urban farming in Syracuse, visit Syracuse Grows.