Categories
Farmland Legislation New York Policy Urban Agriculture

NYC Council’s Food Budget Priorities

On April 26, 2017, Mayor de Blasio submitted a proposed executive budget for Fiscal Year 2017 to the City Council. Following public hearings, the Council and the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget will negotiate a final budget, which the Council then votes on by June 5th.

The City Council recently published a response to the FY 2017 Preliminary Budget that contained the following five recommendations for budget reallocations that address the food system. Members of the public have an opportunity to weigh in on them in prior to the June 5th vote.

  1. Eliminate All School Lunch Fees

The Council proposes adding $8.75 million so that the Department of Education (DOE) can eliminate lunch fees in all schools for all students. The goal is to increase participation in school lunch and remove the stigma associated with the distinction between students who must pay and those who qualify for free lunch. In the 2015-2016 school year, DOE provided free lunch to all students in stand-alone middle schools as a test of the policy. The Council noted that this pilot of universal free lunch did not result in a loss of federal Title I funding, and that student participation increased by at least six percent.

  1. Create Food and Personal Hygiene Pantries at Community Schools

The Council recommends opening pantries to provide food and personal hygiene supplies (e.g., toothpaste and tooth brushes) to needy students in 10-15 schools located in low-income neighborhoods. The cost of construction and stocking the pantries is estimated at $35,000 per school.

  1. Invest in Regional Farmland Preservation

The Council proposed adding $5 million annually to protect regional farms in the Hudson Valley from being lost to real estate development. The goal of this proposal is to ensure the stability of the regional food supply and to to support the regional food economy.

  1. “Baseline” the Emergency Food Assistance Program Budget

The Council urged that a number of items funded by City Council additions to the budget in FY 2016 be converted to “baseline” funds that are included in the Mayor’s budget at the start of the budget process. One food-related item that the Council proposed including in the baseline budget is the Emergency Food Assistance Program, a $22,000,000 line item that supports soup kitchens and food pantries across the city.

  1. Increase Baseline Funding for GreenThumb

GreenThumb, a Parks Department program that supports the city’s community gardens, took over responsibility this year for 34 new gardens that were transferred from the Housing Preservation and Development Department. The Council urged the Mayor to include additional baseline funding of $750,000 in Fiscal 2017 to enable the Parks Department to double the existing GreenThumb staff by hiring six Outreach Coordinators and six field technical staff. These new staff would provide management support, educational programs, and troubleshooting for the GreenThumb gardens.

Categories
New York Planning Policy Urban Agriculture

Urban Agriculture for One New York

[Published on Huffington Post]

On December 12, 2014, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) issued a request for qualifications that offered-up more than 180 vacant city parcels to affordable housing developers. It turned out, however, that 20 weren’t really vacant – they were community gardens, 18 of which were actively growing food.

As this news circulated through the urban agriculture community, gardeners and their allies organized a City Hall protest and began lobbying elected officials to stave off the bulldozers. HPD then took a closer look and discovered that at least 50 gardens, not 20, were under HPD jurisdiction and thus were slated for eventual development.

A year of bureaucratic hand wringing and political backpedaling has ensued, along with staff meetings, site visits, and conversations with gardeners, advocates, and elected officials. The resulting compromise, announced by Mayor de Blasio on December 30, 2015, is that the city will spare 34 of the gardens on HPD land by transferring them to the Parks Department, while 14 active gardens on 9 development sites deemed essential for affordable housing will be lost as construction begins. To its credit, the de Blasio administration has committed to finding alternative sites and assistance for those gardens forced to relocate.

Some might chalk this incident up to an isolated staff-level snafu at HPD. After all, the Mayor cares deeply about quality of life in neighborhoods short on green space and fresh produce, as do the members of his administration. Housing commissioner Vicki Been has published groundbreaking research quantifying the economic benefits of gardens to low-income communities. Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver is leading a Community Parks Initiative that will restore and maintain parks and playgrounds in high-need communities throughout New York, improving open space neglected by previous administrations.

But these conflicts over the city’s gardens arise over and over, pointing not to a slip-up by a particular agency but rather to a more fundamental governance problem: there is no citywide policy that makes urban agriculture a permanentfeature of the cityscape, and no physical plan identifying where future agricultural development should go. Nor is there an overall budget for the urban agriculture system, with dollars instead coming from different sources and little coordination of spending. Urban agriculture remains a patchwork of city programs, making it easy for any individual agency to treat as expendable.

Parks often takes the lead because its GreenThumb program supports more than 600 gardens. But the Housing Authority manages an even larger program, with 670 gardens on NYCHA properties, including an 8,000 square foot rooftop hydroponic farm in the South Bronx, a one-acre farm in Red Hook, and several new large-scale farms planned in East Harlem, Brownsville, Canarsie, the South Bronx, and Staten Island. Some 300 public schools also have gardens, from vegetable patches to high-tech greenhouses. HPD’s flagship affordable housing project, Via Verde, features a community garden and the city’s first and only rooftop apple orchard. And the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) invested nearly $600,000 ($150,000 more than GreenThumb’s entire 2015 operating budget) in a one-acre rooftop farm and another $770,000 in smaller farms and gardens, all to prevent stormwater from inundating the sewers. An alphabet soup of other agencies provides material, land, and technical assistance.

Some argue that this administrative mish-mash encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, but that reflects an overly romantic view of the “guerilla gardening” movement of the 1970s, when urban agriculture blossomed from the grassroots. In those days, in the wake of the city’s fiscal crisis and decades of private disinvestment, community activists, particularly in low-income communities of color, turned rubble-strewn lots into safe, green spaces providing healthy produce, and City Hall was happy to oblige with supplies and technical assistance. But over the past 40 years, urban agriculture has grown from guerilla to mainstream, requiring much more coordination, support, and permanence.

The most compelling reason for a citywide urban agriculture policy and physical plan is to make the system more transparent, equitable and sustainable. Currently, there are no clear criteria for which gardens to save, for how long, through what mechanisms, or at what cost. These decisions are often ad hoc, based on which gardeners are most active and organized, politically connected, and able to provide their own labor and resources. These may sound like reasonable criteria, but they have the effect of disadvantaging communities that would gain the most from gardens and farms but in which poverty, language barriers, immigration status, and other challenges make sustaining a garden more difficult.

Inequities also occur due to the lack of funding priorities for garden and farm projects, which advantages highly networked organizations and individuals with contacts and skills to secure grants, investments, and in-kind resources. While there may be valid reasons for the city to invest in innovative but costly projects like rooftop greenhouses, there is no public process for determining whether alternative farm and garden priorities, including low-tech farms, would be more equitable, cost-effective, or beneficial to the larger urban agriculture system.

A physical plan for agriculture would ensure that farms and gardens are designed into new residential and commercial developments, and that their locations maximize their benefits: near schools and senior centers to link these institutions to gardening programs; integrated into buildings and neighborhoods that would benefit from access to fresh produce and green space; in communities where farm-based youth development, recreation, and job training programs would make a difference; and in places where overburdened stormwater infrastructure would benefit from turning pavement into permeable soil. A citywide policy would also help to break down bureaucratic siloes by integrating urban agriculture into the missions of agencies that do not now view food production as relevant to their mandates. This would mean HPD designing gardens into their housing projects, DEP prioritizing farms and gardens in its green infrastructure financing, and Sanitation linking urban farms to its food-waste composting programs.

Perhaps the best opportunity to start the urban agriculture planning process is with the very program that led to this yearlong garden controversy: the mayor’s signature affordable housing plan. HPD, City Planning, and other agencies have begun community planning and rezoning in neighborhoods targeted for new affordable housing. These plans and rezoning proposals are a unique opportunity to proactively integrate urban agriculture, along with other strategies to increase access to healthy food, like space for neighborhood grocers, food cooperatives, farm stands and public markets, into the communities being transformed.

Categories
Food Access Legislation New York Planning Policy SNAP Urban Agriculture

FoodWorks Legislative Package Scheduled for Vote

On Thursday, July 28, 2011, the New York City Council is expected to enact a package of legislation (Int. Nos. 615-A, 452-A, 248-A, and 338-A) that will advance significant parts of the Council’s groundbreaking Foodworks policy plan and thus move us closer to attaining a sustainable, fair, and healthy food system in New York City. 
Food System Metrics Bill (Int. No. 615-A)
The recently released update to PlaNYC acknowledged that “healthy, sustainable food systems are critical to the well-being of our communities and central to our ability to accommodate a growing population.” Yet administrative agencies have never systematically examined the food system, leaving large gaps in our understanding of where our food comes from and how it moves through the city to our tables and into the waste stream.  Int. No. 615-A begins to close that information gap by requiring the city to develop baseline information about our food system so that we can make intelligent, coordinated planning and policy decisions. And by making core information about our food system available publicly, ordinary citizens, business people, urban farmers, and advocates will be better able to participate in decision-making about food policy.
Specifically, the bill provides the following information:
  • Data on farms participating in the watershed agricultural program, enabling us to understand the kinds of agricultural activity underway in the Catskills, the extent to which NYC funds are being deployed to help farms in our watershed reduce their environmental impacts, the kind of food produced on those farms, and ultimately, whether and to what extent NYC should change or expand its watershed agricultural programs.
  • Information on the provenance of milk and other food products purchased by the city, improving our understanding of the food miles of city-purchased food and opportunities to re-localize food purchases, and therefore support regional farmers and distributors.
  • Information on community gardens that would enable the city council and the public to identify community boards that are underserved, and help to better deploy resources to assist gardeners with production tools and materials, technical assistance, and retail channels for produce, like farmstands and CSA distribution systems.
  • Data on food manufacturers receiving economic development assistance will show the extent to which our EDC and IDA are supporting food manufacturing in NYC and identify opportunities to enhance city support for food manufacturers.
  • The number of truck and rail trips to or through Hunts Point Market will enable the city to improve transportation options in a neighborhood overwhelmed by diesel exhaust.
  • Information on grocery store space per capita will enable city officials, the public, and food access advocates to have a clearer sense of which neighborhoods lack adequate food retail and how food retail access has changed year to year by neighborhood.
  • Data on the FRESH initiative will illustrate progress of the initiative to incentivize grocery store development and to support jobs in the food retail industry, and identify gaps in food access that remain. 
  • Information on the establishments participating in the healthy bodega initiative will illustrate the extent to which that program has been successful in meeting the healthy food access needs of neighborhoods under-served by full-service supermarkets.
  • Data on job training programs to help individuals seeking work in the food industry will help make these training programs more effective.
  • Tracking the total number of meals served by city agencies will illustrate the extent to which city-provided meals are meeting the nutritional needs of residents in different communities.
  • Data on the nutritional quality of city-provided meals will document the extent to which we are meeting the goal of having 100% of our meals meet basic nutrition standards.
  • Information on revenue earned from school vending machines will help school food advocates track the extent to which foods from vending machines compete with school meals, and show the extent to which schools are dependent on vending machine revenue.
  • Data on SNAP recipients will enable the Council and city agencies to determine whether current outreach efforts are adequate.
  • Information on nutrition education programs will help identify the most innovative, successful models of nutrition education, enabling agency officials to improve their educational outreach and, ultimately, improve the nutritional status of agency clients.
  • Tracking the number of salad bars in public schools and hospitals will enable the Council and advocates to track the city’s progress in providing adequate access to fresh fruits and vegetables in these institutions.
  • Quantifying the amount spent to purchase water other than tap water will point out waste and help agencies to figure out how to eliminate bottled water purchases.
  • Information about the green cart initiative will help in evaluating whether the green cart program is meeting the food access needs of the communities in which they are located, how to improve the program, and to what extent cart operators are accepting EBT payments.
  • Tracking the number of vendors at greenmarkets will enable the city to determine whether it is doing a sufficient job providing space for the direct marketing of fresh fruits and vegetables through the Greenmarket program, and whether the number of farmers selling at greenmarkets is increasing or decreasing.
There are gaps in some of the required data (e.g., the farmers market data only includes Greenmarkets, not independent farmers markets), and the legislation imposes few obligations on the part of the city to gather new data (e.g., on the geographic source of food) that does not already exist or that vendors do not currently provide.  In the coming years, the Council will need to ensure that the reporting agencies follow the spirit of this new law and make good faith efforts to obtain and provide this valuable information.
Local Food Procurement Bill (Int. No. 452-A)
This legislation is an important step towards using the city’s purchasing power to support regional farmers, processors, distributors and producers, including businesses located in New York City.  The bill requires the chief procurement officer to develop local food procurement guidelines for agencies, monitor agency implementation of the guidelines, and prepare an annual report for the Council on each agency’s efforts to buy New York (State and City) food.
An important feature of the legislation is a requirement that the city include in each solicitation for food purchases and food-related service contracts a request (unfortunately not a mandate) that each vendor supplying food do the following:
  • Review a list of New York State food products to determine if any are provided under the contract;
  • Report all the food procured under the contract by type with the dollar value of each type; and
  • Report
    • any New York State food procured under the contract, with the dollar value of each type procured,
    • any food from outside of New York State procured when it is also available in New York, together with the value of such purchases, and
    • any other out-of-state food purchases.
The obligations on the procuring agencies are minimal, since they are not authorized to pay a premium for local food and are only obligated to ask their vendors for information about provenance.  Nevertheless, having an annual report will provide information for the first time on whether and to what extent the city is able to encourage the purchase of local food. If the procurement guidelines do not, in fact, result in more local purchases, the Council and advocates will be armed with data to support changing the requirements. 
Database of Potential Urban Agriculture Sites (Int. No. 248-A)
Space is one of the biggest obstacles to the expansion of urban agriculture, especially in dense, economically vibrant cities like New York. Int. No. 248-A would create a powerful new tool for community groups and individuals to identify potential sites for new gardens and farms.  The legislation would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to keep and maintain a free, publicly accessible, searchable database of all city-owned and leased real property, including information regarding the location and current use of such property. This information is currently available in several databases, but not in one place, not online, and not for free.
It will cover the approximately 18,500 parcels that are owned or leased by the city, including schools, police stations, libraries, warehouses, highway maintenance yards, parking lots, piers, and vacant land. Users will be able to find out the location and dimensions of each site, along with many other details. DCAS also would have to indicate whether a particular property is suitable for urban agriculture, presumably requiring the agency to assess site conditions like access to sunlight, and helping to fulfill a commitment in PlaNYC to search for new sites for food production.
Unfortunately, a loophole in the bill specifies that data must be provided to “the extent such information is available” to DCAS, which removes any affirmative obligation on the part of DCAS to collect new information.   It will be up to the Council and advocates to ensure that the spirit of the law is followed, and if not, to tighten the requirements in the coming years.
Rooftop Greenhouse Bill (Int. No. 338)
New York is a leader in rooftop agriculture with commercial rooftop farms (e.g., Brooklyn Grange), greenhouses supplying retail food establishments (e.g., Eli Zabars) and restaurants growing food on their rooftop (e.g., Bell, Book and Candle).  This legislation will facilitate the installation of rooftop greenhouses by exempting them from height or bulk restrictions.  The bill amends the building code by adding greenhouses to a list of other rooftop structures (such as water tanks and air conditioning equipment) that do not count towards height and floor area ratio calculations.  Only greenhouses that are less than one-third of a roof’s area qualify for this exemption, however, so larger structures may still bump up against size limits.

Conclusion
In conclusion, it is clear that Int. Nos. 615-A, 452-A, 248-A will go a long way towards making food systems planning standard operating procedure in New York City.  Doing so will improve program effectiveness, fulfill several goals of PlaNYC, and provide a new level of transparency that will enable the Council to oversee agency performance and allow the public to participate in the development of food policy. 

PlaNYC noted that the “complicated and inter-related subsystems [that make up the food system] aren’t easily understood or influenced….” In part, this is because agencies have never before been required to aggregate, organize, and analyze data about the food system.  Enacting these three bills will change that, ensuring that agencies begin to gather information – and therefore play a role in influencing – New York City’s food system.

Categories
Legislation New York Policy Urban Agriculture Zoning

NYC legislation to exclude rooftop greenhouses from height and bulk restrictions

Legislation in the New York City Council (Int. No. 338) scheduled for a vote on Thursday, July 28, 2011, will facilitate the installation of rooftop greenhouses by exempting them from height or bulk restrictions.  The bill amends the building code by adding greenhouses to a list of other rooftop structures (such as water tanks and air conditioning equipment) that do not count towards height and floor area ratio calculations.  Only greenhouses that are less than one-third of the area of the roof qualify for this exemption, however, so larger structures may still bump up against size limits.

Categories
Legislation New York Planning Urban Agriculture

NYC Legislation Requires Public Database of Potential Urban Agriculture Sites


Space is one of the biggest obstacles to the expansion of urban agriculture, especially in dense, economically vibrant cities like NY. A new bill in the New York City Council, Int. No. 248-A, expected to pass the full Council on Thursday, July 28, 2011, would create a powerful new tool for community groups and individuals to identify potential sites for new gardens and farms. 
The new legislation would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to keep and maintain a free, publicly accessible, searchable database of all city-owned and leased real property, including information regarding the location and current use of such property. It will cover the approximately 18,500 parcels that are owned or leased by the city, including schools, police stations, libraries, warehouses, highway maintenance yards, parking lots, piers, Housing Authority buildings, and vacant land. Users will be able to find out the location and dimensions of each site, along with many other details.
This information is currently available in several databases, but not in one place, online, and not for free. For example, the city’s “Gazetteer,” which lists city-owned and leased properties, does not include the characteristics of the properties to determine whether any particular parcel is suitable for other uses. The Department of City Planning maintains a proprietary database that describes all properties in the five boroughs, but it is only available for purchase.
The new online database would enable ordinary citizens to access the detailed property information that is currently collected by the city, making grassroots urban agriculture planning possible. DCAS also would have to indicate whether a particular property is suitable for urban agriculture, requiring the agency to assess site conditions like access to sunlight, and helping to fulfill a commitment in PlaNYC to find new sites for food production.
Categories
Food Access New York Planning Policy Urban Agriculture

Menu of Food Initiatives in PlaNYC

New York City’s PlaNYC 2030, released in 2007, was roundly criticized by advocates of sustainable food systems because it was silent on food production, processing, distribution, or disposal.  Today, Mayor Bloomberg released an 

New York City’s PlaNYC 2030, released in 2007, was roundly criticized by advocates of sustainable food systems because it was silent on food production, processing, distribution, or disposal.  On April 21, 2011, Mayor Bloomberg released updated PlaNYC, which introduces the topic of food as a cross-cutting issue.  There are references to food throughout the document, particularly in discussions of what constitutes sustainable neighborhoods and in reference to specific initiatives like community- and school gardens and composting programs. 
For a complex issue like food, it is a bit surprising that only two of the plan’s 198 pages are actually devoted to food. By comparison, Minneapolis just completed a major urban agriculture plan that augments its comprehensive plan, and Chicago’s regional plan has an entire chapter devoted to food systems. The City Council’s own FoodWorks is a comprehensive 90-page policy plan.   
To those of us engaged in food policy, most of the initiatives in PlaNYC will sound familiar. And, unlike a proper food system plan, PlaNYC does not articulate a comprehensive vision of a sustainable food system. It does not explain how the discrete pieces fit together and how food relates to other agency plans, like the City’s Solid Waste Management Plan or DEP’s recently released Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan. And with the exception of the farms in our watershed, the food elements are entirely focused on the five boroughs, ignoring our role within the foodshed.
As a quick reference to the initiatives in PlaNYC that relate to the food system — and a checklist to review the city’s progress — I’ve compiled the following chart.
Issue
Agency
Commitment
Page
Deadline
Planning
Launch an online platform, “Change By Us,” to “empower New Yorker to self-organize around issues that matter to them” including gardens.
27
none
Planning
We are working to better understand how we can improve the distribution of food into and around the city. As a first step, we will work with the City Council to analyze our foodshed and evaluate the environmental effects of our food systems.
165
none
Foodshed
We will continue to support economic activity—like sustainable agriculture with partners including the Watershed Agricultural Council—that can be undertaken in a way that protects the city’s watershed.
79
none
Foodshed
We will also continue our partnership with the Watershed Agricultural Council to promote sustainable farming techniques that limit the amount of fertilizer and other waste products that run into our reservoirs.
81
none
Foodshed
DEP
Work with the State to secure the prohibition of hydrofracking within the city’s watersheds.
188
2013
Urban Agriculture
We will target high-impact projects in the neighborhoods with the greatest open space needs. These projects will include community gardens and urban agriculture opportunities, which enrich many of the city’s neighborhoods least served by parks.
35
none
Urban Agriculture
We are committed to promoting community gardens and other forms of urban agriculture. We recognize the important role they serve in building communities, supporting local cultural heritage, and bringing individuals together around the vital issue of access to healthy food.
37
none
Urban Agriculture
NYCHA
NYCHA will also expand its urban agriculture program, creating at least one urban farm.
37
none
Urban Agriculture
NYC BCP
We will design protective measures such as liners for state-of-the-art community gardens on remediated brownfield properties. We will work with GreenThumb and the New York Restoration Project to pilot a community garden on a remediated brownfield site.
57
none
Urban Agriculture
DPR
study to id potential urban agriculture or community garden sites on city-owned properties unsuitable for other development
182
2013
Urban Agriculture
NYCHA
plant 129 new community gardens on NYCHA sites
182
2013
Urban Agriculture
DPR
increase number of community volunteers registered with GreenThumb by 25%
182
2013
Urban Agriculture
DPR
expand support for community gardens into new underserved neighborhoods
182
2013
Urban Agriculture
Mayor’s Fund/ DOE
register 25 new school gardens with Grow to Learn NYC per year, and retain 75% of registered school gardens year to year
182
2013
Urban Agriculture
DCP/ DOB/ DPR
reduce impediments to agriculture in relevant laws and regulations
183
2013
Food Processing
We will graduate 25 new businesses from [E-Space] and an additional 40 at La Marqueta, so that food entrepreneurs can bring healthy food and economic development to neighborhoods throughout the city.
29
none
Distribution
Before we can increase the efficiency of our food- related freight movement and reduce its impacts on congestion, and improve residents’ access to food, we need to better understand what New Yorkers eat, where it comes from, how it gets to the city, and where it ultimately gets delivered.
97
none
Distribution
We will … work to shift inbound freight from trucks to rail and increase rail capacity into the city. The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, located at the FDC, presents an opportunity to expand the use of freight trains to supplement trucks for incoming shipments. As part of a potential redesign currently under negotiation, we will work to maximize inbound rail market share.
97
none
Food Access
We will also ensure that our housing and neighborhoods become more sustainable. Sustainability means more energy-efficient buildings, walkability, the availability of transportation choices, employment opportunities, and access to retail, including healthy food.
23
none
Food Access
We have begun and will complete a study in East New York, Brooklyn, where, working in close cooperation with the Community Board and other local stakeholders, including the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, we will generate recommendations for land use and zoning changes, and assess other opportunities for making the neighborhood greener. The study will also incorporate efforts to pro- mote public health through improved access to fresh food by seeking to utilize the City’s FRESH (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) pro- gram and build on the efforts of local groups such as East New York Farms.
27
none
Food Access
Opportunities exist to use existing food distribution infrastructure, like bodegas and food carts, and the City’s regulatory powers to increase access to healthy foods. In partnership with the City Council, we are developing and implementing programs to provide low-cost temporary solutions, while encouraging the development of more permanent markets.
28
none
Food Access
Through the Healthy Bodegas initiative, more than 1,000 bodegas have promoted the sale of fresh produce and low-fat dairy products, increasing sales of these products to local residents. The Green Carts program has issued almost 500 new permits to street vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables in underserved neighborhoods, quickly and effectively expanding retail options. By augmenting the federal food stamp program (SNAP) with “Health Bucks,” we are providing SNAP recipients with $2 in coupons for every $5 in SNAP spent at farmers markets. More than 110,000 Health Bucks were distributed in 2009, generating an additional $220,000 in sales of fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables.
28
none
Food Access
DCP
Identify additional amendments to zoning to facilitate grocery stores in communities with food access needs.
182
2013
Food Access
EDC
Facilitate 300 more food retail and production opportunities on City-owned spaces in underserved areas
182
2013
Food Access
DPR
Establish five additional farmers markets at community garden sites
182
2013
Residuals Management
We will launch the Greener, Greater Communities approach to help community- and neighborhood-based organizations develop and implement local initiatives. This includes projects to manage stormwater, improve energy efficiency, establish community composting resources, create new public space, and enhance the stewardship of parks.
27
none
Residuals Management
We will work with the city’s 24,000 restaurants and food-related businesses to identify and adopt practices that reduce waste.
138
none
Residuals Management
We will develop new recognition and award programs or build on existing models such as LEED and the Green Res- taurant Association to incentivize businesses and institutions to expand recycling and use recycled and recyclable materials.
139
none
Residuals Management
We will expand outreach and education efforts, benchmark and quantify current community- based composting efforts, and work with community and government partners to increase the number of available drop-off locations for food waste. In addition, we will launch a grant program for small-scale composting to encourage diversion of food waste.
140
none
Residuals Management
To capture the roughly 4% of residential waste made up of leaf and yard trimmings, we will rein- state leaf and yard waste collection for composting in the city. This will create a high-quality soil product for use by City agencies and non-profits in parks and natural resource programs.
140
none
Residuals Management
We will also expand composting of leaf and grass clippings generated by our City parks. Specifically, we will install one small-scale composting unit in each borough. We will also expand the use of mowing equipment that mulches leaves and other organic matter so that nutrients seep into the soil.
141
none
Residuals Management
The City piloted curbside collection for organics in the early 1990’s and found that while it did increase diversion rates in lower-density neighborhoods, it was not a cost-effective collection method. Since 20 years have passed, we will reexamine this issue and complete a new study to determine the feasibility of curbside organics recycling.
141
2012
Residuals Management
We will pursue the establishment of an on-site organics recovery facility at the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center.
141
none
Residuals Management
We will promote commercial organics recovery as part of our proposed business recognition and award program to encourage sustainable solid waste management practices.
142
none
Residuals Management
We will continue to evaluate pilots of new [dewatering] technologies and encourage businesses and institutions to adopt them as a means to increase diversion rates.
142
none
Residuals Management
We will pursue sustainable and economical opportunities to process and market sludge for beneficial reuse through pilot projects and partnerships with utilities and private investors
142
none
Residuals Management
DSNY/ OLTPS
Expand opportunities for communities to compost food waste
195
2013
Residuals Management
DSNY/ DPR
Expand leaf and yard waste composting
195
2013
Residuals Management
DCAS/ DEP
Encourage use of new technologies to increase recovery of commercial food waste
195
2013
Residuals Management
EDC/ DSNY/ OLTPS
Pursue on-site food recovery facility at the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center
195
2013
Residuals Management
DEP/ BIC/ DSNY
Encourage in-city opportunities to recover yellow grease and convert it to biofuel.
195
2013
Agency acronyms:
DEP: Department of Environmental Protection
NYCHA: NYC Housing Authority
NYC BCP: NYC Brownfield Cleanup Program
DPR: Department of Parks and Recreation
DOE: Department of Education
DCP: Department of City Planning
DOB: Department of Buildings
EDC: Economic Development Corporation
DSNY: Department of Sanitation NY
OLTPS: Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability
DCAS: Department of Citywide Administrative Services
BIC: Business Integrity Commission
Categories
Planning Policy Urban Agriculture

Boston issues RFP to create new farms in Dorchester

On July 12, 2011, the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development and Boston Redevelopment Authority issued an RFP seeking community groups to create organic farms on three city-owned sites in Dorchester.  Boston will issue five-year leases on the sites at the cost of $500/acre with the option to extend the leases for an additional ten years.
A major objective is to foster community development, so applicants must provide a plan for community participation and engagement in the farm operations and business activities, including how farm neighbors will be involved “in the decision making of the farm and its activities.”  In addition applicants must have a plan to provide “community benefits and outcomes sought by the community,” including but not limited to: making some of the produce available to local residents at an affordable price; providing job training and internships to local residents, particularly youth; making a portion of the produce available to local schools; donating a percentage of produce to food pantries; and making a portion of the produce available to local stores.
Categories
Legislation Planning Policy Urban Agriculture Zoning

Making Vancouver a Global Leader in Urban Food Systems: New Greenest City 2020 Action Plan

The Vancouver City Council is scheduled to vote tomorrow (Thursday, July 14, 2011) on the adoption of a comprehensive sustainability plan called the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan (GCAP). The plan runs the gamut of municipal sustainability issues, from energy to water, but one of its ten key goals is to make Vancouver “a global leader in urban food systems.” To achieve this goal, the plan outlines a series of short and long-term strategies, ranging from planting fruit trees on city property to developing infrastructure to aggregate, process and distribute regionally produced food.
The specific strategies in the document will be familiar to food system planners, and some may seem modest.  Yet three characteristics distinguish the GCAP from other municipal sustainability plans: (1) it will be ratified by the Vancouver City Council and become official city policy; (2) it calls for cross-agency cooperation, which is so often missing in city initiatives; and (3) it addresses both the regional foodshed as well as neighborhood needs.
A Proper Plan
The GCAP is being ratified as a formal plan by the City Council at the end of a multi-year planning process, so it will be a statement of official city policy and a roadmap for city agencies to follow.  The food section sets forth the broad aspiration to make Vancover a global leader in urban food systems, but also establishes a specific target of increasing city and neighborhood food assets by at least 50% from 2010 levels. And the plan designates a lead agency responsible for implementation (Social Policy) with support from two other key agencies, engineering and parks.
The GCAP has been several years in the making, allowing for public scrutiny and the formal adoption over time of goals, targets, and specific strategies. The plan was preceded by the work of an advisory food policy council and a food charter. In February 2010, the Council adopted the long term goals contained in GCAP and requested the action plan.  In January, 2011, the Council adopted 14 targets to achieve these goals as official Council policy (and requested staff to develop an additional target that would encourage businesses to adopt green practices).
Public participation is essential to the development of plans, both because people contribute valuable insights and because a participatory process allows for an airing of differences, building credibility in the process and generating support for the final product.  The GCAP solicited input in a variety of ways using conventional hearings and social media.  But the plan also included external advisory committees made up of key stakeholder organizations.  Often planners speak with experts as they are developing a plan or policy, but the advisory committee members appointed by staff to provide feedback on the GCAP were duly appointed and their names were public, adding transparency to the advising process.
One of the values of having the Council approve the GCAP is that once the Council adopts the plan, the goals, targets, and strategies will be identified as Council priorities. At that point it will be politically trickier for the Council to reject or de-fund programs and policies designed to attain the goals contained within GCAP.  It will also be easier for advocates to argue for program funding, new policies, and agency regulations that are consistent with and that carry out the intent of the plan. 
A Networked Plan
One of the reasons why food gets short shrift in most is that cities generally lack food departments (an idea that planning scholar Jerry Kaufman suggested a decade ago).  And while certain municipal agencies are charged with addressing specific aspects of the food system, those responsibilities are dispersed across multiple agencies that may not even talk to each other, let alone collaborate and cooperate. This can lead to a dearth of innovative cross-agency initiatives, agencies completely letting the ball drop, and inconsistent or incompatible policies or programs.
The GCAP discusses the need for coordination and accountability across administrative agencies to achieve the plan’s goals and outlines mechanisms to facilitate multi-agency participation.  The plan calls for the development of a coordinated food strategy that increases coordination between city departments, food policy council, community partners, and existing policy programs. It explicitly calls for linking together the work of various departments within an overarching municipal food action plan.
From Foodshed to Neighborhood
Unlike plans that focus exclusively on activities within municipal boundaries, the Vancouver plan is outwardly focused, acknowledging that benefits accrue to the City of Vancouver from a thriving regional foodshed that produces food using sustainable, fair methods. It calls on the city to advocate for maintaining food production capacity within the agricultural land reserve and other agricultural lands surrounding the city. It also calls on the city to promote a “food systems” approach to other levels of government, and for Vancouver to work with other large cities to develop key food system indicators to compare efforts.
To support the regional foodshed, the plan calls for the development of a procurement policy within the next three years that supports the purchase and use of local food in city-run facilities. Over the medium term, the plan calls for the creation of a central food hub to provide space for the aggregation, storage and distribution of food from local farms and the processing and development of local food products. And in an effort not to fall into the “local trap,” the plan defines local food as food that is sustainably produced and affordable using fair labor practices and sound production methods.
The GCAP recognizes the regional, national, and global dimensions to the food system, yet also focuses on neighborhood-level solutions that enhance resilience. The GCAP recommends support for neighborhood food networks or coalitions to increase community capacity at the neighborhood scale, along with the development of neighborhood food infrastructure, including food hubs (facilities to connect rural farmers to urban consumers), community kitchens, markets, gardens, and even community root cellars for food storage and community bread ovens. And, recognizing that small initiatives often have a hard time promoting their work and attracting financial support, the plan calls for the development of information-sharing systems to better integrate those working at the grassroots. 
If the GCAP is adopted, as expected, and is actually funded by the City Council over the next decade, Vancouver is likely to achieve its bold goal of being a food systems leader.
Categories
Farmland New York Planning Policy Uncategorized Urban Agriculture

New Generation of Farmers Emerges in Oregon

Prairie Crossing, Grayslake, IL

One of the challenges for mid-size farms, the so-called agriculture of the middle, is how to transition farmland to a new generation of farmers. It is heartening to see young people excited by food production, but we need to develop policies and programs to help them learn sustainable and profitable farming techniques, gain access to manageable parcels of farmland, and have a pathway to acquire larger farms if they wish to grow their operations.  See today’s NY Times article for inspiration:

 
New Generation of Farmers Emerges in Oregon
 
 
An interesting model for nurturing new farmers is Prairie Crossing, a farmland subdivision on a commuter line from Chicago that boasts 40 acres of organic farmland amidst single family homes, with “training parcels” for prospective new farmers. Another model is NYC’s New Farmer Development Project, which helps recent immigrants who have farming experience gain access to farmland in the New York metropolitan area as well as retail space at one of the city’s Greenmarkets.
Categories
Planning Urban Agriculture Zoning

Minneapolis Advances Urban Agriculture Planning

Minneapolis is on its way toward adopting a new comprehensive urban agriculture policy plan.  Last Tuesday, February 22, the Minneapolis City Planning Commission moved to recommend that the City Council adopt the proposed plan. The next step is for a subcommittee of the City  Council to discuss the plan on March 24th, and if voted out of committee to be considered by the entire Council.

Minneapolis’s plan contains the following recommendations for action on land use and zoning, the identification of new land for food production, community gardens, and economic development, as outlined in the Planning Commission’s staff report:
Zoning and Land Use
·  Define urban agriculture in the zoning code
·  Allow small-scale market gardens in most zones and on rooftops
·  Allow larger urban farms in commercial and industrial districts
·  Allow residents to have home-based food growing businesses
·  Allow home growers, community gardeners, and commercial gardeners to use trellises, hoop houses, raised beds and other techniques
·  Improve farmers market and community garden signage
·  Incorporate urban agriculture in small area plans and transportation plans
Land Availability
·  Review the City’s land inventory and consider selling or leasing more properties in underserved areas for urban agriculture
·  Alter land sale policies to encourage the sale of land for growing
Community Gardening
·  Reassess the available parcels to make sure they are desirable for gardening and serve more under-served areas
·  Consider selling some of the current community garden parcels to gardeners
Economic Development
·  Support the Homegrown Minneapolis Business Development Center
·  Conduct a market and economic impact analysis to better understand the future role and economic impacts of urban agriculture
Like most municipal plans, the Minneapolis urban agriculture plan has to be consistent with and supportive of the city’s comprehensive plan.  The plan identifies several specific goals of The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth that urban agriculture supports:
·  Promote nutrition strategies to ensure access to healthy foods for all residents
·  Educate residents and property owners about the benefits of recycling, and of properly composting and reusing yard wastes and organic plant-based food waste
·  Support the growth and development of local businesses
·  Support the creation and improvement of community gardens and food markets which sell locally and regionally grown foods
·  Where appropriate, support the planting of edible fruit and vegetable plants
·  Encourage the equitable spatial distribution of community gardens and food markets to provide all Minneapolis communities with access to healthy, locally grown food
·  Explore opportunities for partnerships linking farmers markets, community gardens and open space