The city of New York is a land of many opportunities filled with extensive resources.
New York has numerous divisions of society, ranging from high-end to dirt-poor neighborhoods. The differences within each neighborhoods are vast and affect the communities inhabiting them. The low-end communities are plagued by poverty, making it difficult for the people living there to provide themselves with proper living styles. (“Food Deserts”) The working-class and poverty stricken communities often fall into food deserts, where they have little access to healthy food because of the restriction of grocery stores, and suffer from consequences such as poor diets and health. The issues these communities, such as the Bronx and Harlem, face are causing unsustainable development throughout the streets.
Now, you’d think installing a grocery store would solve all of these issues and all of the communities would be fixed, but it isn’t that easy to implement. Installing grocery stores doesn’t necessarily mean the citizens are going to purchase the healthiest foods available because the healthy food, fruits/vegetables, are way more expensive than a bag of chips. The introduction of urban agriculture would be a sustainable alternative to this dilemma. Urban agriculture has many benefits to communities that are connected to food deserts. Urban agriculture, or urban gardening, could be applied to the open lots and abandoned buildings. According to a source called “Picture the Homeless”, there are over 3,500 vacant buildings and 2,490 open lots. (Pinto, 1) Similar to NYC, LA has over 26 miles of vacant lots, enough to plant over 7,500,000 tomato plants.
(TedstalkDirector) These lots could serve people without shelter, but the costs would be high. Instead, they could be used to create gardens for growth of fruits and vegetables. A startup company similar to Farm Urban, a eco-friendly startup that uses aquaponics and hydroponics food production systems, could be administered with the abandoned buildings and lots to bring healthy alternatives to these areas. (TedxTalks) If they were to be used in the future, installing these systems in and around the food deserts could pose incredible benefits. Green Carts, an on-going system in NYC that brings affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to restricted areas. This system is a quick and easy alternative solution to the issues in the areas that are in need of a change. The solutions proposed could wreak many benefits for New York, increasing the sustainability of the city and inspire others. NYC has endless resources of food in their cities but don’t always provide for the areas that need it the most.
Urban agriculture is a suitable solution for the food deserts in areas affected. The deserts will allow people to grow their own food with minimal costs. They can use the food how they please, such as selling it at farm markets and local restaurants, or for their own good.
Selling the produce would bring in small margins of income to a family or a group of urban gardeners. Connecting with local restaurants benefits the community and the environment; by bringing and keeping money in the area and reducing ‘food miles’. (3DPonics, 1) Keeping the produce can help families bring meals to their tables and have a steady flow of food, known as food security. Farmers markets brings communities together by sharing common interests and gives the opportunity to exchange different types of with each other. The Green Cart system in NYC only sells fresh fruit and vegetables, often catering to the area they are serving.
(“Green Carts”) This system opens up jobs for people in need and helps bring only the freshest fruits and vegetables to communities that don’t have the chance to splurge on healthy options.